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Book Club News

Our fall book club season is in full swing. We currently have discussions open for The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste and Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati. Later this week we'll be opening a new discussion of The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline, and then we'll close up the year with a discussion of Sorrow by Tiffanie DeBartolo in December.

If you've read any of these books, please do join us! If you have not I suggest the discussions are not the best place to start as they are full of plot spoilers; instead, stay on the general information pages where you'll find reviews, articles and more.

Also in this issue, for all of you who are finding 2020 a bit of a grind, we recommend uplifting books for book club discussion. We also offer effective ways to encourage quieter members of your group to speak up.

Very best,
Book Club
The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste
From the Book Jacket

Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, Elle, Time and more, The Shadow King is an "unforgettable epic from an immensely talented author who's unafraid to take risks" (Michael Schaub, NPR).

From the Discussion

"I loved the book because it took me to a point in history about which I knew nothing. I love reading untold stories of those who are forgotten or never known (I love Ruta Sepetys). The cadence of the writing is nothing short of exceptional - there's a reason this was short listed for the Booker prize. It's always fascinating to read a lyrical account of a brutal event or set of circumstances." - jenniferk

"I enjoyed the book's focus on the inner consciousness of characters who in a different kind of novel might be portrayed as either pure victims or villains. War experiences in popular English-language entertainment and a lot of books are presented in terms of the horrors of war, or a simplistic kind of heroism, but this one gives attention to immediate sensory experiences and interesting moral questions about not just war but its aftermath." - elisabethc

"I struggled with the book early on - mostly, I think, due to my own lack of background knowledge. However, once Hirut noticed the similarities between Minim and Selassie, I was completely sucked into the story and could not stop reading. I celebrated the power, courage and perseverance of Ethiopia's women. I found the description of war, particularly the way the Italians fought, to be horrific. However, I think it is important that we are aware that decorated generals and soldiers become that way most often by inflicting unspeakable horrors upon others." - acstrine
W.W. Norton & Company. Historical Fiction. 448 pages. Published Sep 1, 2020
Where The Light Enters
by Sara Donati
From the Book Jacket

From Sara Donati, the international bestselling author of The Gilded Hour comes an enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in nineteenth-century New York.

From the Discussion

"I love accurate historical fiction. Since there were so many characters and story lines, even though this was a long book I never was bored. Although this phase is terribly overused, it truly was a page turner." - shirleyl
"I recommended it to the retired women doctors that I know. I was surprised they knew to keep things antiseptic and sterile at that time. I was also surprised how respected they were since I have heard stories of the disrespect shown to women students and doctors in the 1970s and this was so much earlier. I highly recommend this book." - joycew
"I was excited to see Where the Light Enters as a selection since I really enjoyed the first book in the Waverly Place series, The Gilded Hour. It was helpful but not necessary to have that character knowledge before reading Where the Light Enters. I liked many of the same characteristics that were part of the first book. The time period is fascinating as are the characters: strong women working against convention to make their place in the world." - paulak

"I loved it so much I bought the book on Audible and the first book in the series as well in both Kindle and Audible. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing style, and her accuracy to history while writing fiction." - lloyden
Berkley Books. Historical Fiction. 672 pages. Published in paperback Aug 2020
Effective Ways to Encourage Quieter Members to Speak Up
Book clubs can be such a wonderful space for people to share their ideas; diverse viewpoints can lead to deeper and more valuable discussions that help us grow, both as individuals and as a society.

But what do you do when people don't speak up? How do you encourage quiet members to contribute?

To better understand what to do (if anything), it's important to look at the reasons why a book club member might be staying silent.
Uplifting Books for Discussion
We have heard from many people that they are finding it difficult to focus on books they would normally enjoy amid the ongoing pandemic and political and social upheaval.

You are not alone. It can be challenging to maintain focus on reading under ordinary circumstances with the frenetic pace of our daily lives, so it makes sense that it would feel downright impossible during an extraordinary time.

Remember to be kind and patient with yourself, and perhaps you and your book club will find inspiration in our "Uplifting Books" book club category (all with reading guides) which includes books that may contain dark themes and real-life issues, but do so while focusing on kinder human connections with a decent splashing of hope.
Current & Upcoming Book Club Discussions
Discussions are open to all, so please join us! If you would like to receive a notification when a particular discussion opens, you can sign up for a one-time notification. You can also find inspiration for your book club among our more than 150 past discussions.
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Resources for Book Clubs
BookBrowse offers a cornucopia of resources for book clubs including recommended books by genre, time period, setting and a wide range of themes; advice on starting and running a book club and much more!
Usually published once a month, Book Club News is one of BookBrowse's four free newsletters. We also publish BookBrowse Highlights every Thursday, Publishing This Week every Sunday; and Librarian News monthly.
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