Book Clubs :: Short List, 2020-2021

Short List for 2020-2021

Our short list is here! Voting is over, and our SOC Book Club has selected its 2020-2021 reading slate.

Short List for 2020-2021

Two things are different about this group of books from past years. First, our voting has never been so decisive. Nine of these books made it in on the first round of voting with at least 6 votes (out of 11). The run-off was between two books that each received five votes in the first round. I think the solidarity is awesome. 

Second, a significant percentage of these will be re-reads for me. I hadn’t stopped to consider how many of the books on the long list I had already read, but it was considerable – 13 of the 24. I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but I do know we’ve got some great selections that will make for engaging discussion. It is inevitable that I’ll have read a couple from our list but this time, I’ve read 7 of the 10.

On to the list!

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout – Our club so loved Olive Kitteridge that we decided to include this one without waiting for the vote. We’re going to reread Olive Kitteridge and add a second meeting to the end of May so that we’ll be primed and ready in June to discuss Olive’s return. 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – A year or so ago I started making a concerted effort to read more books published before I was in high school. This book was pitched last year and even though it wasn’t chosen then, because (published in 1940’s) it met my criteria for earlier works, I read it last summer. It is a very different from most books we read in tone but with pretty modern themes, so I’m looking forward to the discussion.

Native Son by Richard Wright – I read this in college, and I’m looking forward to my older-self’s thoughts. Another book from the 1940’s, this is Wright’s first novel and the book most feel put him on the map. I’m so glad to be in a book club full of smart women who would choose a title like this.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson – A few years ago we read another of Larson’s other historical nonfiction novels Dead Wake, and it is among the top 10 highest rated for our club. And, many of us have read and enjoyed The Devil in the White City. This latest arrival is subtitled “A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.” For history buffs (and many in our group are) what’s not to love?

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – This is another that I read a year or so ago. It lived up to all the positive publicity that preceded my picking it up. It is an intriguing family saga with much to talk about. Plus, I learned a ton about the racial prejudice that exists between the Chinese and the Japanese that I had never thought about before. A promising discussion.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Y’all have heard me rave about Amor Towles here and here and here, so I’m thankful that one of the sistas recommended Rules of Civility. And while I love Gentleman in Moscow just as much, I do think Rules of Civility is a bit more accessible.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – One of the few books on this list that I haven’t read, I’m very much looking forward to this one. My husband’s family is from Norway. We’ve been planning a trip there for later this year (postponed now because, you know, the “c” word) and in planning for the trip, have done as much research as I can about the country. This book is inspired by true events in 1617 when an epic storm wipes out most of the men of a fishing community and the 1621 witch trials that followed. 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – I love personification done well, and in this novel by Patchett, the house feels very much like a character. The audio version is narrated by Tom Hanks, so originally, I listened to this book. I plan to physically read it this time, and I’m looking forward to how the different experience impacts my reading.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne – I reviewed the ARC here so I’ll let these comments be brief. This was one of the books that I put forward, and I can’t wait to discuss it.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – This one is getting a lot of good publicity, supported by the couple of our members who have read it. While I don’t typically give a lot of credence to A-listers with book clubs, I do think Oprah’s tend to be more reliable, and this is an Oprah’s Book Club Pick. So, we’ll have to wait almost a year, but we’ll find out if our club agrees.

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