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Good news for readers of classics! The Davis-Kidd Classics Club will reform in the fall here at Parnassus Books! We will meet several times over the next year to talk about important, older books (generally published before 1960) that we either missed or want to revisit. Watch for upcoming dates and book selections!
"It's all about the book."
Last Sunday night at a dinner party, a friend asked me, "So, how many books do you read in a week?" It's a good question, given the job I have, and one I get often. And my answer is always the same: Usually one or two a month. Not surprising if you know what a slow reader I am. What a hardship it has always been for me -- as an English major, an English teacher, a book club leader and bookseller. Nearly all of my life I've been taking my time with the books I read ... not the best when there are deadlines to meet, books piling up and discussions to plan. As much as I try to speed up, inevitably I underline, go back and re-read cleverly worded sentences and paragraphs, stop and think about what I've just read, make margin notes, write questions about the text. It's all part of the reading process for me, and adds to the enjoyment of my reading experience. It occurred to me that I read as I eat: Slowly with small portions at a time. I like to dine, not just eat. I like to savor my food -- and my books!
Two books I have savored this month:
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
This is a lush, full story told in a very unusual way. But I found myself captivated by the telling and by the story of a multi-generational family in the Virgin Islands as it transitions from Danish rule to American rule in the years of 1916 to the 1970s. Forget rules of what should be "correct writing." This novel breaks those rules, with a spellbinding effect on the reader. Uniquely told using some island dialect and language, and incorporating island history and the author's own family lore, it follows the Bradshaw family through sixty years of family dynamics, births, deaths, love affairs, loyalties and betrayals, with a compelling story and shades of magic realism.
Read-alikes: Wide Sargasso Sea, the novels of Andrea Levy
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Anything but unusual in the telling, this novel is told in a plain, straightforward, more conventional style, but with just as much power over the reader. In 1961, death becomes a factor in the lives of thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, his siblings, his Methodist minister father and his disaffected mother, as well as the townspeople of small-town New Bremen, Minnesota. This is a literary mystery, a coming-of-age tale, a story of family relationships and faith tested by the events of one summer that changes their lives forever.
Read-alikes: To Kill a Mockingbird, the novels of Kent Haruf
Both of these will make great choices for your book club. Happy reading ... and talking!
Parnassus Book Club Selections
August - The Dinner, by Herman Koch
September - Regeneration, by Pat Barker
Parnassus book club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read the book and join the discussion!
Kathy Schultenover, Book Club Coordinator