Adventures in Book Club - Finding the book everyone wants to read

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Our in-person book club met last night and our usual process of trying to find the book which everyone can agree on took its usual time reaching consensus. Each time, books are passed around, comments are made, thumbs are down, thumbs are up, mehs and okays are tossed about…

Last night I brought an overwhelming number of books to circulate. I even whittled that staggering number down by two, taking them out before I even left the house. (hey, it was a start!) When it came time to choose our next read, another four didn’t even make it out of the book bag because the ones already circulating was overwhelming enough.

In an attempt to perhaps shake up our reading a little, I brought a dystopian novel. This is not my personal go-to genre at all, ever, but this particular one was written by Hillary Jordan, author of the book-club loved Mudbound. I knew When She Woke was a completely different effort from Jordan’s Mudbound, but I thought we might give it a try. (Have you watched the movie adaptation of Mudbound by the way? It is fantastic!) Ultimately, When She Woke was an idea that thrilled two of our members, but divided the others.

The books pictured below were the ones passed around for our first consideration. Missing from this picture is Bonfire by Krysten Ritter but its book cover is shown next to the book stack picture. Bonfire was also in this first consideration pile, but ended up going home with one of our members to be read immediately, so it couldn’t be used in the pictures taken this morning. (Sorry if they seem a little dull and orangey – the morning sun was not up yet and the ugly wall colour in our kitchen doesn’t lend a photogenic quality to the books!)


When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan, You Belong to Me, by Colin Harrison, The Black Painting, by Neil Olson, Where the Line Bleeds, by Jesmyn Ward and Bonfire, by Krysten Ritter were all given due consideration. The ones receiving the most favour were The Black Painting, You Belong to Me and When She Woke.

Our host’s husband arrived home and the three front-runners were passed to him to decide for us. (That sounds kind of nose-wrinkling doesn’t it? haha not that we were looking for a man’s opinion on what we should be reading, just that we didn’t want to be the ones left to take any blame if it didn’t work out! 😉 ) Anyway, he picked When She Woke, which illicited cheers from two but had No Way! coming from the other two – there was no way they were going to read a sci-fi kind of book, no dystopia, no thanks, no way. We attempted to persuade saying we should try something different, but they were firm in their denial. So the two remaining in the running were passed to our host’s son who just happened to walk into the room. 🙂 He chose The Black Painting.

So, The Black Painting it is! (Reviews aren’t dynamic for it on Goodreads, and that’s a bit of a bummer because our book club Really Needs a zinger of a book right now. The many past months of reading have been pretty dull and uninteresting, with the last four to five books fizzling out and losing their air like a balloon all around the room for us all. We long for one of those Cutting for Stone moments! (It has been 8 years since we read Cutting for Stone. That’s a very long time to be waiting for that touchdown, homerun kind of book we’re all desperate to read.) Not that we haven’t personally been reading excellent books in all those years, it just seems that in our book club selections, we haven’t had a book that made us all jump for joy the way Cutting for Stone did. Mind you, we have read books such as Reconstructing Amelia, Big Little Lies, and Imagine Me Gone – but not only did they not illicit as much excitement and adoration by all, it’s been a long, dry many months (and months) between those books and for a book like Cutting for Stone is what I’m trying to say overall.)

These were the other books that never made it out of my book bag:

Lost for Words, by Stephanie Butland, My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, A Song for Issy Bradley, by Carys Bray and Valmiki’s Daughter, by Shani Mootoo. They were very different from the ones that did make it out of the book bag! I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing this stack back to book club to circulate because I think there’s some in there that will be well received and hopefully one of them is the great book we’re searching for! One other I’m pretty sure I’ll bring for the next meeting in March is going to be Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao. It comes out in March and I think this is one that will definitely appeal to the book club ladies! (I hope?!)

Do you belong to an in-person book club? How do you choose your books? Is it an eclectic reading bunch? Have you had any excellent reads lately? Care to make any suggestions?