I joined my book club, The Literary Gems sometime in early 2015. We were strangers who met on the streets of Facebook. Three years later, we have read and discussed loads of books over a few glasses of wine.
We have attended members’ weddings, baby showers, fought, disagreed and shared a lot of laughs. Our lowest moment as a book club was when we tragically lost one of our members, Vivian who died in a road accident in March, 2016.
One of the best things about being in a book club is that you get to discover books that you would probably never have read on your own. I have enjoyed so many of my book club picks.
I have also had moments of rebellion when I refused to read certain books. Recently, the club read Anna Karenina and nope, I didn’t even open the book because I just knew that it wasn’t for me. I would have struggled to read it. In the end, out of 20 members, I think only 2 managed to get to read it.
Here are some of my favorite book club reads:
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is one of my favorite books of all time. Aminata Diallo’s story demands to be read. Hers is a story about strength, perseverance and of course, suffering. Aminata is a protagonist that you can’t just read about and forget. Seriously, you are missing out by not reading this amazing book.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See – If you enjoy diverse reads then this one should be on your TBR. The writing is beautiful and the imagery so vivid that it took me on a trip to China where I met the tea loving Akha people and learned about their culture. I can still visualize the forests and mountains of Yunnan.
The book club ended discussing this book forever on Watsapp. The conversations about tea went on for a month after the review. At some point, members decided to purchase some of the tea discussed in the book. Three months later, members were still on the tea conversation. I am not so crazy about tea but then again, here I am right now, telling you about it. This book was something else!
Arthur Golden in Memoirs of a Geisha creates an entertaining plot full of twists. Some readers describe the book as a fairy tale, the beautiful princess is Sayuri, Nobu-San is the ogre, Hatsmumo is the evil witch and of course every fairytale has a prince, Chairman. Oh and by the way, there is an evil step-mother in the tale. However, you choose to describe it, Memoirs of a Geisha is a fascinating read. It’s the kind of book whose memory will continue lingering long after you turn the last page.
After reading this book, I watched the movie adaptation and guys; the cinematography was out of this world! Of course, there are things that I didn’t like in the movie but it’s still one of my favorite movie adaptations.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta is a coming of age story of a young girl at a time of war. To better understand the story, keep in mind that Nigeria is very religious and conservative. In addition, the book is set in the 1970s where homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by imprisonment or death. There is a lot of conflict between characters. There is also a lot of self-conflict as Ijeoma tries to find herself in a society that rejects her. Her struggles were heartbreaking. The book is very well-written and I think that Chinelo was successful in achieving her goal of giving the marginalized LGBTQ community in Nigeria a voice.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman is a story about Ove, a man going through a hard time that makes him seem cranky until you get to know him. I dare you to read this story and not warm up to him. Honestly, Ove is one of the most endearing characters that I have met in a book. I loved reading about him and getting to know his complex but wonderful personality. I also enjoyed getting to know everyone who came into his life. This was such a heartwarming story that I definitely recommend to everyone.
Ps: In December, I got a puppy who I named Ove.
11/22/63 by Stephen King – I loved the ending of the book. I think at some point in life we all tend to wonder about would happen if we could go back into the past and change something especially the mistakes that we might have made. Read 11/22/63 and find out what our main character, Jack Epping/ George Amberson discovered about changing history.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – I just have to mention the ending. I never saw it coming until it was happening. It left me with a headache. I don’t think any other book has ever given me a headache. This book certainly broke my heart.
Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez is not just a story about love. Love is one of the main themes but there is more to the tale than just two people falling in love. There are other themes that come up such as jealousy, infidelity and obsession. There are also heavy themes of sexual abuse and slavery. On the other hand, Marquez tackles other issues such as old age with a touch of humor. There is a lot that I can say about the book.
A Fine Balance by Rohinston Mistry is the kind of book that I recommend to everyone. It is very well written; the prose is poignant, flawless, compelling. It is just beautiful. The characterization is great. The characters are so well developed that it is hard to forget them. However, it is only fair that I warn you that this book is heart wrenching. It will mess with your emotions and it may make you cry. It angered me. Life can be unfair and humans can be heartless. However, the question of a fine balance was thought provoking. How do you stay sane in a crazy, cold world when life is continuously throwing punches at you?
Blindness by Jose Saramago is very well written. I found myself getting attached to the characters despite never knowing their names (what is in a name anyway?) I was completely immersed in the world created by Saramago. At times, I wondered what it would be like to suddenly lose the ability to see. Can you imagine that? One minute you are reading your beloved ARCs and then suddenly, you only see white? This book will give you an in-depth look into blindness and what it means to get lost into such a world.
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma is dark, tragic but deeply moving. West Africa has given the world so many wonderful writers such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Ngozi. Chigozie Obioma joined this league with this brilliant debut novel. If you also like mystery, mythological narration then this is the book for you.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is not the easiest reads. It will require your concentration as a reader. However, once you get through the first 50 pages or so then you will find yourself enjoying the writing even more. It’s a difficult story with heavy themes but at the same time, it’s a story about a man trying to survive an ugly ordeal and fight his own demons.
My book club is currently reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This is a book that I read in 2016. I loved it then and can’t wait to rediscover it.
Are you in a book club? Which are some of your favorite book club reads? And have you read any of the books on my list?