Yep, you read that right. Selectionssss. As in plural.
Remember how I said I would pick only one other book for the End-of-Year Selection? Well, I maybe kinda just a tiny bit unintentionally lied. You see, I already knew I wanted to pick a monthly book starting in 2019. I also knew that I wanted to get together with my girls to talk about books on the podcast on a more regular basis.
I knew we would struggle to record every single week, but felt confident we could make it happen once a month. And if we could make it happen once a month, then I could certainly deal with reading one book a month for my very own cause. I initially decided to do quarterly book picks because I didn’t want to be overwhelming, but then I realized that if I’m going to do this thing then I need to do it all the way. There’s not a lot of momentum in quarterly book clubs (this is not a scientific statement, so I don’t know, maybe there are really successful quarterly book clubs out there somewhere…), but I am on a mission with this thing now. Once I decided to start growing the project I didn’t see any sense in holding off my plans for three more months.
So, without further ado, even though you already saw them in the picture, here are my selections for the end of the year:
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Earlier this month, I received feedback about In Cold Blood being chosen as the first book for the SCR Book Club. Some thought it was a little dark, which was actually a concern of mine when I first decided on it. While I’m not the type of person to shy away from dark literature in my own private reading selections, I acknowledge that for a group of people to be reading heavy subjects like In Cold Blood collectively can be exclusionary. True crime isn’t everyone’s thing. And though I know I’m not going to pick the perfect book for everyone every time, I hear you out there, and I decided to go with something warmer for October.
I first read a passage from Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club when I was in college for an English class, and have wanted to read the book in full ever since. I actually bought it while I was still in school at USC and it has sat on my bookshelf, unread, this entire time. Since I’d already expressed wanting to go with a diverse female author for the next book, I thought Amy Tan would be a great choice.
In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined…
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Olive! Another book of mine that has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. Doesn’t this book just look like the epitome of fall? It’s the kind of golden yellow you’ll see on your trees by the time South Carolina actually decides to have a fall. I chose this book because, based on the back cover, Olive seemed to be a very frustrating but lovable female character (something I can always get down with). It’s short and sweet, but filled to the brim with charm. Or so I’ve read… Anyway, it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, so there.
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition – its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
I won’t lie to you guys. I 100% chose this book because of its title and it’ll be the last month of the year, do I really need to go on explaining? I thought it was hilarious, but then I’m a nerd, so maybe I’m the only one here who thinks it’s funny. Anyway, I’ve also probably had this book as long as the others, which probably answers your question: yes, every book I chose was from my own bookshelf, get off it. Look… I was trying to put my bookshelf to some use. I knew I had a bunch of acclaimed paperbacks from years ago, so I wanted to utilize what I already had. The end. (Get it???)
This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about – until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
If these selections aren’t what you were hoping for then know that I’ve already selected more recent titles for January and February based on the polls I did on both Facebook and Instagram last week. I’m debating on whether or not I should go ahead and select books for the entire year so I can list them all at the beginning of January or if I should only plan for several months at a time to give some room for any debut/2019 publications. Because hardcovers can be pricey, I thought it might be better to choose books that are older but still popular.
But you tell me what you would prefer. If nothing else, I could plan on choosing two or three recent titles that may still be in hardback and choose paperbacks for the rest of the year. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to put in your two cents or you can find SCR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to give me your thoughts. Don’t forget, there are both Facebook and Goodreads groups you can be a part of to make your voice heard on these matters or anything else that strikes your fancy. (And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!)
If you do plan on reading along for the next few months, please take a moment to invite a friend, give a shoutout, and share a picture of your current read (or one of the book club picks!) to be featured on the social media accounts. Thank you once again for being a part of this little community. I truly hope it continues to grow, because books are my life, and nothing makes me happier than sprinkling that literary joy around.
Have a Happy Hump Day! And, of course, happy reading to you all.