It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Dickens infamous intro pretty much sums up this past year with our Book Club. While we were sheltering in place, social distancing and meeting via zoom, we were also reading a collection that received the highest scores we’ve ever had in one year. (In 2015-16 we had seven; most often we have 3-4.)
Many of these were re-reads for me, which I’m perfectly OK with if they are quality books. I had not read Native Son since college, and The Dutch House I listened to originally, so this time I read it. And, reading the two Olive’s straight through provided a new and rewarding experience (yes – do it!). I think I could read Rules of Civility every year and not tire from Towles language. And A Ladder to the Sky is so nuanced, that it needs a second reading.
If you’re looking for more details about each book, I gave a few thoughts when I introduced them last year.
|Olive, Kitteridge||Elizabeth Strout||4.75||High – 5||Low – 4|
|Olive, Again||Elizabeth Strout||4.73||High – 5||Low – 4.5|
|Native Son||Dodie Smith||4.33||High – 5||Low – 4 (one DNF)|
|I Capture the Castle||Richard Wright||3.48||High – 3.75||Low – 3|
|The Splendid and the Vile||Erik Larson||4.35||High – 5||Low – 3.75|
|Pachinko||Min Jin Lee||4.15||High – 4.25||Low – 3.75|
|The Mercies||Millwood Hargrave||3.78||High – 4.25||Low – 3|
|Rules of Civility||Amor Towles||4.68||High – 5||Low – 4|
|A Ladder to the Sky||John Boyne||4.73||High – 5||Low – 4.5|
|The Dutch House||Ann Patchett||3.81||High – 4.25||Low – 3.25|
|American Dirt||Jeanine Cummins||4.15||High – 5||Low – 3.5|
With eight of these books scoring a 4+ rating (and five of those above a 4.5!), it speaks well of the books’ preferences but also how well they lend themselves to discussion. Even the three that scored in the high 3’s had robust discussions. So, if your book club is looking for suggestions, you can’t go wrong with any on this list.
For a little more on how we score books, see my previous post on the topic.
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