Book Club, anyone?

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.

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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.

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To give you an idea, these are Kazuo Ishiguro’s stats at Goodreads,

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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.

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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,murakami

And The Trial, by Kafkakafkapics

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.

 

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33 thoughts on “Book Club, anyone?

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  1. I’ve already read all 3 (Kafka in the Russian translation, though – and Murakami in both Russian and English), but would lurk happily on the discussion of any one of them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I listen to you because you are biased toward translation, lol. So I’m putting down your vote for Murakami.

        I’ve heard praises of the book by my Spanish reading friends at Goodreads. I’m assuming, but it’s a safe guess to think the Spanish translation is well done.

        Sherry votes for The Unconsoled.

        Let’s see what others interested say. (I will end up reading the other two not picked anyway.)

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      1. The English translator is Jay Rubin; there aren’t enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe his skills. The Russian one, in contrast, a bit taken by the idea that he can “feel” Murakami’s true intentions, and takes significant liberties with the text – the result is much more him and much less Murakami. To do that and still remain true to the book is a tough act to pull off, and he doesn’t have a good enough command of Russian to do it. English, without question.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I really want to try to join! I wanted to do the Gray House but the timing just wasn’t right. But with plenty of advance time to plan for it I think I can make this one work! Thanks for doing this Silvia!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Lisa, it would be so wonderful to have you join, I hope you can make provision for it, and read along. I hope we’ll all benefit from it, and have fun.

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  3. I’m just happy that we are waiting for summer for any significant commitment. You pick it, and I’ll read it, Silvia. Maybe I’m slightly biased towards Ishiguro?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another vote for Ishiguro. I hope he doesn’t let us down. Cheers to the summer. I know it sounds crazy to be talking about summer now, but hey, I need a long term goal to keep me going.

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  4. I’m in, Silvia! 😀 You are good at challenging what’s left of my brain cells. 😉 I haven’t read any of these authors at all! Ha. Although I know I have Buried Giants on my shelf. Thanks for missing us (I’ve missed and been worried about you too!) and I loved how you worded that you wanted our “reading blood”! 😀 Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I suck at read-alongs but after reading The Buried Giant I’m ready to read another Ishiguro. So The Unconsoled it is. Your read-along of The Gray House looked great. I lurked a bit to get a feel of the discussion quality. I look forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, Fariba! What an honor, having you in our book discussions.

        You say you are not great at read-alongs, but I know I’m going to love your participation.

        And since you want to read The Trial, I’m up for it. Why don’t we start it in October. I will work on a 3 discussion posts, Monday the 16th, the 23rd, and 30th! (That will help me wait until the summer to tackle Ishiguro’s novel.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not too familiar with these books but my horizons could be broadened 🙂 I’m a maybe for the summer since that seems doable if I plan in advance! I’m hoping to pick on big book each year and next year I’d love to read Les Miserables. Maybe I’ll finish it by the summer if I start in January!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Silvia! Just wanted to pop over and say hi. How are you doing? Hope things are going well! I think it’s so wonderful that you’ve been doing a book club! I love book discussions; but I admit, I’m not the best at actually commenting. Ha! I am actually reading quite a few books right now (I tend to read more than one at a time…LOL) but I might see if I can squeeze in The Trial in October. I’ve not heard of any of the other books you’ve mentioned. I’ll have to look into them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Karen! Nice to see you. We are doing alright. What about you?

      I’m glad to hear you may join for the reading of The Trial. It’ll be wonderful to have you read along. (I too am always reading several books at once, ha ha ha.)

      Thanks for commenting.

      Like

      1. I’m not making any promises. LOL But I would *like* to try to read it with you all. One of our local bookstores has a lot of classics in paperback for $5. I’m going to stop by there in the next few days and see if The Trial is one of these that are on sale. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I know I’m late to the party but over the last three days I’ve read The Gray House and I had questions logically I ended up at your blog discussions. Invaluable by the way. I am now pleading with everyone I know to read the book. However I have one question that maybe you answered but I missed. How did Elk die? I feel like I’m missing something obvious but nevertheless it’s leaving me restless in the not knowing. I’m going to keep following your blog as I think we are similarly minded. Thanks much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, another fan! Welcome. I don’t think we are told how Elk died. Maybe master Yuri can come to our rescue and she’d light on this.
      One day I will re-read this AMAZING book with all of you who wish to join. It was my favorite reading from 2017.

      Like

    2. Elk was killed in the big knife fight that happened on the graduation night of the book’s “seniors” (the Skull-Moor “war”). Ralph is thinking about it in his first chapter (beginning of book 2, p. 225 of the print edition, “That vortex had claimed Elk as well…”); as he conjectures, this wasn’t because Elk was specifically targeted – I always imagine something along the lines of Mercutio trying to intervene between Romeo and Tybalt.
      Blind might have witnessed it (to the extent he can witness anything), by the way – we know he was not locked up that night, and he seems to know for sure that the specific kitchen knife he’s kept was the murder weapon.

      And a huge welcome to the House!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you, thank you! I was feeling so unsatisfied. Going the way of Mercutio. What a way with words. I should think that’s as good a ways to go as any for one who so loves his charges. His demise seemed to taunt me from Blind’s reminiscences and from Ralph’s conjecture. I will be able to sleep tonight now that my curiosity has been sated. I plan to start rereading tonight, as I know I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m sure it will be much like Tolkien’s saga and require many more until I feel I have a firmer grasp. I would be thrilled to participate in your rereading here when you revisit that mercurial house.

    Liked by 1 person

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