Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Club Friday: My Real-Life Book Club

Wow, I haven’t linked up for Book Club Friday in ages. 

Confession: I’ve only read four books in 2013. I’m not doing so hot in my goal of reading one book a week (I read fifty-one books last year—missed my goal by one!). I blame moving into a new apartment and working two jobs. Plus I’ve prioritized sleep—I usually get at least seven and a half hours a night, and I aim for eight and a half hours.

But one reading goal I have met this year is keeping up with the book club I co-founded in New York. I picked the first book (Midnight inthe Garden of Good and Evil) more than a year ago, and I met with three of my friends at Starbucks right before I moved to Toronto. My friend Aria* picked the second book (The Tiger’s Wife), and we intended to meet online to discuss the book… But it just happened finally in January. Becky* picked the third book (Zeitoun), and we finally found a free date to discuss it last Saturday. Kendra* just picked our fourth book (The Remains of the Day), which I will probably buy or check out from the library a few days before our meeting, start reading the night before we meet, and conclude an hour before I join our Google Hangout. Because I’m cool like that.

So today, as I so often do, I will be reviewing TWO books. Aka the two books I read for my real-life turned online book club. Aren’t y’all lucky?


From Amazon: In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

This is not the kind of book I would have picked out to read, but I am SO glad Aria chose it. My friend thought it started out a little slow, but I was immediately entranced within a few pages. After just a few chapters, I had a million questions, and I was desperate to find the answer to them all.

Téa Obreht writes her story between realism and fantasy, historical narrative and fairy tale. She weaves effortlessly between different time periods, between varying points-of-view, between vague geographical locations.

The plot is so intertwined, and all the small flashbacks add up to big connections. I can’t say more without really spoiling the plot. Just trust me when I say this book was brilliant!


From Amazon: The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Again, I never would have chosen to read this book on my own, and it turned out to be just as compelling as The Tiger’s Wife! I knew nothing about this book or Dave Eggers (the author) before I started reading it. I had checked out a digital copy through my local library, so I didn’t even read the summary on the back of the book before I started reading it. The book is so well-written that for the first few chapters, I thought it was a novel, not a true account.

One aspect of the book my friends and I all liked is the information on Islam. I really enjoyed reading Kathy Zeitoun’s conversion story, of how she discovered Islam. Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s backstory is cool too, with stories about his family back in Syria.

The major impression I had after reading this book is how privileged I am, how distorted the media is, and how scary our government is. I was still fairly sheltered when Katrina happened, and reading this one book has really opened my eyes to how little I still know about the experiences of religious minorities and people of color.

If you are looking to leave your reading comfort zone, both The Tiger’s Wife and Zeitoun are amazing choices.

What books have YOU read this year?

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