I miss The Gray House book club. I miss seeing new comments by those who participated in the book club. Reading together with other reader friends is a unique experience.
For the experience to be worth it, I believe I need a good readers tribe, (that, I have), and a book that is more than just a good book, but that transcends and it becomes a great experience.
When I invited you, readers, to join me to read The Gray House, I took a chance, since I had not read the book myself. But I watched that memorable BBC documentary, and there was the promise of something formidable. The book was well beyond my expectations. I consider The Gray House the best book of 2017, -even though we still have a few more months to end the year, and a title high in my all time favorites.
So, what’s this post about? It’s about possibilities. It’s about writing and thinking about books to come, -something that gets me going, excites me, and also relaxes me. I guess you can also consider it a strategic post. I want to see how many of you would be interested in a book club this summer. I’m asking for your reading blood ahead of time, I want to beat everybody else, and make you commit now. The way things are for many of us, time has taken impossible speed, and if I don’t do this now, summer will come and you will all be in different reading waters.
However, I’m not asking you to commit to the unknown. After one inspired Goodreads afternoon, in which I read reviews and reviews of reviews, of books I’ve read and books unknown, I went from I forgot which book, to an unknown title by Ishiguro. I thought, (and I confess to have bragged about it), that I had read all of Ishiguro’s work. That afternoon I realized I have not. I’m missing a novella (A Pale View of Hills), some of his short tales, and what’s best, a lengthy and very well regarded book by him entitled The Unconsoled.
To give you an idea, these are Kazuo Ishiguro’s stats at Goodreads,
The Unconsoled is not as read (if we read the ratings), as his Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, or his latest, The Buried Giant. Don’t be fooled, oh, you reader, by the lack of reviews. I know many of you don’t like to read reviews, least spoilers, so I promise not to go there. All I want to say is that this book has a lot of 5 and 4 stars, or 1 and 2 stars. It’s what I once heard described as a ‘marmite’ type of book. Either you love it, or you don’t.
Reasons why I think this is possibly a great candidate for a book club book:
- It’s a longish kind of book, 535 pages. (Long books afford us universes to inhabit for quite some time.)
- It’s a non plot driven book. The type of book about nothing and about everything. Because, what’s life but full of nothingness, randomness, and profound meaning?
- Reviewers who love Ishiguro, praise this as his best book. They say he is most himself here. And what makes Ishiguro Ishiguro? His obsession with memory, his predilection for unreliable characters, and his ways of making you feel you know yet you don’t know what you are reading about. Definitely, a book that benefits from commenting it with others.
- Reviewers also comment how important it is to read this book slowly. If I don’t read it with others, I may feel tempted to a) put it away. Or, if I finish it, I feel forever frustrated by my inability to talk about it along the way or after the last page.
- Warning. It has the potential to make us uncomfortable. In a good way. Books that are so invested in the feelings, that are so much in the head of the characters, and that get in our heads as readers, have the potential to drive us mad. Only in that madness have I ever encountered the most poetic and piercing literature in my journey as a reader.
That’s possibility #1, my strongest recommendation. However, I have two other possible titles I’d like for you to vote on at the comments, or anyway you can contact me. They are Wind Up Bird Chronicles, by Murakami,
And The Trial, by Kafka
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is on the longish side, at 607 pages, and The Trial is only 255 pages, but I bet they are an intense 255 pages.
I have only read 1Q84, 6 years ago, and something in it put me off. I couldn’t stop reading, (I had to know what happened, how it ended), but I don’t know what it is with it, but I did not fall in love with Murakami. Recent friends reading The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, have led me to believe I’d love it. It is another book that they say stays with you forever.
As for The Trial, what can I say? It is, (or was), the favorite book of Katie, whom I got to know through the Gray House book club. I’d love to read Kafka with friends too. There’s also the option of reading The Trial in the Thanksgiving-Christmas break, -since it’s 255 pages-, and choosing Ishiguro or Murakami for the summer book club.
If you want to vote for any of these books, let me know which one and when, and I’ll prepare a blog schedule to follow up with the conversation.