Reading list for an imaginary book club

Melissa Wiley has imagined her ideal fare for a book club, and I am inspired to do the same. Of course, I would never host a book club, as I am far too shy, and suffer a chronic incurable case of foot-in-mouth disease, which renders me incapable of saying anything intelligent when in adult company. But in my dreams, this would be my reading list - those books which I would love to discuss with others. (For an list of more intelligent material, read Melissa's post.)

1. Robert Frost, Collected Poems. I love Robert's poems, they resonate with my deepest soul. I also love the intellectual exercise of analysing and discussing them. I've taught about several of his pieces, and left many students shaking their heads with wonder at his "trickiness" - but to discuss them with people who are on the same level of understanding is delicious.

2. The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. These books are delightful, witty, and wonderfully constructed. Eugenides is my favourite literary character ever. I don't know I'd have much to say about the books beyond witless gushing, but I'd love to listen to other people unravel their intricacies and articulate the power of their simplicities.

3. Grimms Fairy Tales. There's so much psychological and cultural richness in these old stories, I could happily discuss them for years.

4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have various theories about this book and would love to work them through with other people, and to hear their theories, and to see if altogether I could improve my understanding of what Jane wants her readers to feel with the novel. She's either being very clever indeed or very dull. Of course it's the former, and I love to explore the possibilities of that.

5. Stolen by Lucy Christopher. I'm not sure I can explain why I'd like to discuss this in a book club. I'm not even sure I can explain why I liked it. When I first read it, I opined that the story was rather insubstantial - but years have passed and still it lingers in my memory, chilling me with its eeriness, and that makes it a definite success after all.

6. Hegemony or Survival by Noam Chomsky. Several years ago I scoured bookshops all through the city until I found this, bought it with much joy, and then read only half. It's the sort of book which can't really be read without discussion, unless you want to come close to exploding with emotion and opinion. I must have spent at least two weeks walking about with a scowl on my face and muttering America at random aggravated moments, much to the alarm of my family, who don't really have much interest in politics. I followed up Chomsky with a series of books about Guantanamo Bay which depressed me so profoundly I gave up on political analysis (and much of humankind) for years. I'd still love to discuss it all with smart and reasonable people, though.

I'm trying to think of more books, but my mind keeps getting diverted by thoughts of other discussions I'd love to have, such as what truly happened with Mary Stuart in Scotland, and if there really is a Loch Ness Monster, and what causes all the disappearances in American National Parks, and why was Emily Dickinson a recluse, and what would Russia look like today if the imperial system hadn't failed, and why does the story of Jesus echo so many other religions, philosophies, and plays from that era, and what were Anne Boleyn's real motivations, and which pedagogical theories are the best, and what can we learn from the scientific arguments against macro-evolution, and ... and ... oh, everything!


What books would you have in your ideal book club?





12 comments:

  1. Interesting list.

    It's strange, but I posted a book list out of the blue tonight.

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  2. I would like to be in your book club.:-) I just finished a book that I loved, that I think you might like as well, called The Snow Child.

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    1. By Eowyn Ivey? Not only have I read it and love it - enough to have actually bought it - but I've met the author and she signed my copy :-) I considered adding it to my book club list, but it's one of those stories I like to hold close and quiet to my private heart. I think discussing it too much would disturb its spirit.

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    2. Yes, that's the one! I finished it about a week ago, and I'm still thinking about it often. It's one of those stories that will stay with me.

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  3. I would like to be in your book club.:-) I just finished a book that I loved, that I think you might like as well, called The Snow Child.

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  4. Excellent list! Stolen -- what a great call. I was so gripped by that book. Would like to read it again, actually. And Mansfield Park, sign me up. Dawn, I almost added The Snow Child to my list as a book I haven't read yet but have been meaning too--it's in my library pile at the moment--but then I went with Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch instead.

    Sarah, I've had the Megan Whalen Turner books in my queue for way too long!

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  5. Mansfield Park is on my TBR list. I saw the 1999 movie version and loved the dark humor. Surely the book is different from the movie (as they always are), but at the beginning of the movie they say it's based off Mansfield park *and* Jane Austen's journals and letters, which I find intriguing.

    I'm off to check out Melissa's list...

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  6. Oh Sarah. I think it's too bad we live on opposite sides of the world. Should we ever meet in person you will find me deploringly awkward and terrible at conversation and apparently witless, as I seem to only be articulate on a keyboard. We can have tea and pass notes across to each other. :)

    New titles on this list for me! I will check them out. Except Chomsky...I don't need any more reasons to feel upset with the world. :) One book I've always wanted to discuss (as if I could ever formulate sentences around such a stirring subject) is Silence, by Shusako Endo.

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    1. I love that idea! And at the end of the get-together we could smile at each other and give assurances that no one said anything embarrassing or offensive, everyone was charming and interesting, and there is no need hatsover to go away and hide under a blanket and cry, eat chocolate, and swear to never bother the world again. :-)

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    2. Also, Silence looks like a wonderful book.

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  7. I have only been to one real life book club, and when I realised everyone else was expecting to discuss the latest Mills and Boon, I fled as quickly as deemed politely possible.
    I would love to discuss any and all books with you, but more than anything I would love to join your diverting list of discussions ... my mind is humming already in imaginary anticipation :-)

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