Thursday, November 1, 2007

TT - 13 Book Club Books



This week I've listed 13 books my book club has read in recent years. There have actually been many more than 13, but these are a sampling of the ones that generated the best discussions, for those of you looking for ideas. We almost never all agree on how we feel about a given book, but these are some that actually kept us on topic - talking about the book itself rather than about our kids, jobs, vacations, daily travails and other assorted topics that usually fill up the evening. Links lead to online reviews and/or discussion guides.

1. The History of Love - Nicole Krauss - touching, creative, poignant, a wonderful book club book


2. Atonement - Ian MacEwan - I hated the first third, tolerated the second, and loved the last. Even now I can't decide how I'd sum up my feelings about this book. Read it and decide for yourself.

3. Reading Lolita In Tehran - Azar Nafisi - a fascinating insight into the life of a woman, and an intellectual university professor at that, under the Ayatollah's regime

4. The Emporer of Scent - Chandler Burr. I'm including this one in the interests of fairness. I can honestly say that I hated, truly hated, every single word on every page of this miserable non-fiction account of biophysicist Luca Turin's claims of a revolutionary new understanding of the science of scent. Turin was such an ass that I found no justifiable reason for slogging through pages and pages of indecipherable science to find out whether he ever gained the recognition he claimed that the establishment was keeping from him. I was so put off by the book itself that I couldn't have cared less, not about the individuals involved, the process, nor the scientific discoveries. That said, many others in the book club found it absolutely fascinating. Perhaps I'm just more of a boor than they are, but I did not find it to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever, let alone to be "fascinating". Still, it garnered several hours of intense discussion as we vociferously argued it's pros and cons, so I suppose as a book club choice it was a success. I still hated it though.

5. Anil’s Ghost - Michael Ondaatje - a gripping tale set amidst the horrors of civil war in Sri Lanka

6. The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster - personally, I found this horribly depressing, but an excellent read

7. The Secret Life Of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd. This one was lovely. I don't think anyone actually disliked it, a rarity in our group.

8. Eleven Minutes - Paulo Coelho - I have to say, I've disliked everything I've ever read by Coelho, but I was in the minority on this one

9. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood. I was in the minority again on this one. I considered it one of the best books I'd read that year, but several others hated it.

10. Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri - truly excellent, and since it's a collection of short stories there was plenty of fodder for the discussion

11. The Namesake - another one by Jhumpa Lahiri, a full-length novel this time, and equally good

12. She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb. Very disturbing, and very thought-provoking.

13. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides. Wonderful. Really wonderful.



48 comments:

Nap Warden said...

The Secret Life of Bees, great read! Happy TT!

WorksForMom said...

Wow, what a great list and I love the name of your blog too (OH SO clever)!

Joyismygoal said...

liked this one "The secret life of Bees

My Fav from our book club this year was To Kill a Mockingbird

Jo said...

GOOD GRIEF.....Atonement is just about one of the best books ever written. Can we still be friends ROFL? Have you seen the film? This year's best, even with the dreadful Kiera K.

Mother of Hana said...

OMG, I'm so embarassed, some of those books on your list had been on my have-to-read list for ages but I haven't read any up 'til now.

Thanks for reminding me...

Nicholas said...

I keep seeing Middlesex on TT book lists. Maybe I should join the gang and read it.

Courtney said...

I have a few of those in my to-be-read pile. I think I'll see if some of the others are available on paperbackswap.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Whoa. Your club is heavy-duty. We read ... fluff by comparison. And we all hated, to a person, History of Love. (and the leader couldn't finish it. Uhh... that'd be me.)

Secret Life of Bees was good, but it disappointed me. We didn't read it as a group, but we did The Mermaid Chair. I thought it was a better book. (the idea was fresher)

happy TT, babe! I'll have some chocolate in your honor tonight since you're not in a Trick or Treat Zone.

Sunshine said...

If you've never read "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb, add to your list immediately!!

I liked "Bees" a lot also and Middlesex is on my list.

susiej said...

I'm with Nap Warden -- secret life of bees. u

Lori said...

Nope, I havent read any of them. I will have to check them out:) Happy TT.

Ornery's Wife said...

Haven't ever read any of these, but I admire people who can make it through that type of book. I am with Susan Helene; I read fluff in comparison!
Happy TT!
TM

pussreboots said...

I've only read three of your thirteen: The History of Love, Oryx and Crake, and Middlesex. The first two I LOVED. The last one bored me. Happy TT.

Raggedy said...

Great list and thanks for the reviews..
Terrific Thursday Thirteen!
My TT is posted.
Have a wonderful day!
Happy TT'ing!
*^_^
(=':'=)
(")_ (")Š
Raggedy

Lara Angelina said...

I have "She's Come Undone" on my nightstand but haven't started it yet -- and I liked "The Secret Life of Bees" -- she also wrote "The Mermaid Chair" which was good. I always have too much to read and too little time!
Great TT!

Nancy said...

The only one I read on your list is "She's Come Undone"

And now that Sunshine said "I Know This Much Is True" is a must read, I must!

Cordia Amant said...

I haven't read any on the list, but that just means there's more for me to read.

Open Grove Claudia said...

The Secret Life of Bees encouraged us to finally get our own beehives. This is a great list of books - I'll definitely check out the book about Sri Lanka as I went to university with a guy from there.

Happy TT.

Phyllis Sommer said...

great list! i'll have to start on some of these...but not the ones you panned:-)

margalit said...

Some of my favorite books are on your list. A hint about Ian McEwan. His early books are WONDERFUL. His later books, not so much. I've read everything he's ever written, but my all time favorite is A Child In Time. It's seriously the saddest book I've ever read. EVER.

Lori said...

I wish I had more time to read. I have got to check some of these out:)

Yen said...

Such great list! I got that number one for my Mom earlier this year:)

Mine is up here;
Thursday Thirteen
Happy TT and Happy Halloween!

damozel said...

That's an excellent reading list---one of the best I've seen. That's the sort of book club I'd like. Most of the ones around here read bubble gum stuff (so there's really nothing to discuss).

cj said...

The only one I've read is Middlesex and I completely agree. It's absolutely wonderful.

Great list. My direct link is:

http://cjreading.blogspot.com/2007/11/thursday-thirteen-12.html

Xakara said...

Thanks for this list, it's given me yet another opinion on She's Come Undone and Middlesex. I want to get them but I've wanted to separate hype from true opinion.

Now I know I'll pick them up next time the budget allows.

Do you feel you get everything out of being in a bookclub that you'd hoped?

~X

Janet said...

I loved Middlesex! A great, interesting read. Enjoyed your list!

baby~amore' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baby~amore' said...

I have thought of joining a book club but I don't have enough time to finish the four or so books I have recently started ...

I might to bookmark this list for inspiration.

scooper said...

I've only read Anil's Ghost. It was a nice book. Happy TT!

Head Gaggler said...

Great list. I wish I had more time to read.

erin said...

I LOVE The Secret Life of Bees, and I agree that She's Come Undone is disturbing, but it is so fascinating. Happy TT! Mine is 13 quotes from The Office!

http://stephenanderin.blogspot.com

J. Lynne said...

Oryx & Crake sounds intriguing. I wonder if my audio book club has it. I'm looking for something good for the commute after I finish Salem's Lot.

KC said...

great list
Happy t13

Nap Warden said...

Oops, I commented twice...sorry!

Kellan said...

This was a great list of books - I've read several of them. See ya.

Holly said...

I haven't read it as a book, but have listened to the audiobook, "The Secret Life of Bees". I'm a huge reader so I'm going to check out a few of the books you listed. "She's Come Undone" sounds like something I'd be interested in. (don't want to say enjoy as it sounds heavy). GREAT list - thank you!

geek-betty said...

Wow, I've read over half of those!

Sparky Duck said...

wow, this sounds like one smart book club

Marie said...

I started a book club when I lived in Florida, and they're having a hard time carrying on without me and my never ending lists of good books. They've resorted to Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom, it's really gotten that bad. I will have to pass this list on to them.

ellen b said...

happy tt to you...
I'm going to go back and click on #13...

MetaMommy said...

Great list...I'll keep it in mind for my bookclub's future reads.
We all liked the Secret Life of Bees so much that we read the Mermaid Chair, which was disappointing. Our last meeting, we were torn between the Namesake and Middlesex, but we decided on the latter. So far, it's a great read. Perhaps we'll get to the Namesake next time.

Darcy said...

GREAT LIST! Miss ya buddy....

Heather said...

I enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees, Middlesex, and She's Come Undone. I really want to read Reading Lolita. I loved Lolita.

julia said...

I admire your inclusion of books that generated a lot of discussion but which you didn't personally like. Touche!

cajunvegan said...

How is it that a self-professed banned book reader doesn't have time to read a book? I have a few of these in my "unread" collection.

My 13 Workplace Stress Busters are posted. Happy TT!

Lea said...

Hi Robin... I've been catching up on your blog... thank you so for Blogging Star award, you are one of my stars!

October 15th feels like lifetimes ago... and now I'm home touching down for just a few days and then off to Kansas for a conference!

I am excited for you about your upcoming trip and look forward to more of the gifts of your words that wash ashore from your island... XO

Pieces of Me said...

So many people commented about the Secret Life of Bees, which I loved. But at the same time, I love Juhumpa Lahiri - I preferred though her short stories - maybe it's because the genre works better there in her writing - don't know. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.Have a lovely trip.

~Virginia~ said...

I just purchased The Secret Life of Bees! It's next on my to-be-read stack! :) I agree on She's Come Undone. I plan to read Middlesex, but haven't bought it yet.