Another season, another Booklover’s Throwdown. Can I just say how much I love this not-a-bookclub? Part bragging rights about what books you’ve made it through, part exposure to books you might never have picked up otherwise (cough*cough*Truman), this bookclub is worth its weight in gold.
We chatted about how to use Goodreads stars responsibly, which Gillian Flynn book is actually the best, and why adults should read as many YA books as they want. Plus, there was wine and new neighbors! Seriously…the best.
So with my Moleskine full of great book recommendations, I bring you another edition of my Throwdown recap. Hope you take these recommendations seriously…they were all made with love and great reflection!
Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos
With just about the beachiest cover imaginable, this story of a crumbling marriage is compelling with strong undercurrents of black humour. It was described as the best book possible for one of those hot Chicago lazy summer days.
Speak by Louisa Hall
Perhaps a contender for the strangest book recommended at the Throwdown, Speak follows a number of real and fictitious characters over the course of time. It deals with the idea of how we communicate in a world that is increasingly digitized and silent. Highly praised, and highly recommended.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
I can’t leave my house without hearing about this book. Actually, scratch that… I read an article about it while I was in my house. Stradal’s debut novel has the buzzers buzzing, and with great cause. This novel is a charming, heartfelt novel that will make you laugh, cry, and raid your fridge all in one stupendous hour.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Recently listed as a nominee for Man Booker 2015, this tome is a rough but rewarding ride. I mean, c’mon. It’s score on Goodreads is an astronomical 4.24 right now. The story of four friends as they struggle to create their own lives and disentangle their own traumas in the 21st century. RoscoeBooks Bookseller does a pretty great job summing it up here.
God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Atkinson’s follow-up to her crowd-favorite, Life after Life, has had some mixed reviews. The booklover here said that it’s well-written, engaging, and well-thought-out enough for anyone who enjoyed the first.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Movie Stars, a loveable Italian assistant, and the Italian coast. A love story put on hold for decades. The underbelly of the movie studio world. A character loosely based on Elizabeth Taylor. You’re welcome.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
This was described as a “perfectly constructed novel,” and our booklovers know what they’re talking about. Two Russian boys are given the seemingly impossible task of finding a dozen eggs or risk death. What follows is a gorgeous coming of age tale set against the haunting backdrop of WWII.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Set in the near-distant future in the grips of a potentially catastrophic global epidemic, Mandel’s novel was described as similar to Stephen King’s iconic The Stand in theme, but completely original in tone.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
If you’re already tired of hearing how great All The Light is, give this great YA option a try! Two young women recount their friendship and military service during the 1940s with one held in captivity. A riveting read that you won’t be able to put down.
I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Another bookseller favorite: this YA novel is the touching portrait of twins grown apart. As both struggle with their sexuality and larger identity, the reader is taken on a harrowing journey to discover what drew these twins apart so long ago.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susanna Cahalan
Oh what a difference a month makes. Cahalan’s gripping memoir about her struggles with a secret brain tumour are a fascinating portrait of an undiagnosed illness, and the depth of the human heart (or brain).
Truman by David McCullough
Perhaps the best part of the evening was when a booklover opened her backpack and pulled out Truman, slapping it heartily on the chair besides her. Gauntlet thrown. For all your Harry S. Truman needs, McCullough’s your guy.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This book has surprised a lot of non-sci-fi readers. It’s more the story of a man in difficult circumstances than a sci-fi epic. The movie is set to star Matt Damon, so either way, it should be interesting!
The Girl with All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
This is probably the other contender for strangest book of the evening. This booklover recommended this book as a heartwarming story IF AND ONLY IF you go into it knowing that it’s about child cannibals. With that caveat, who could resist!
Uncle Janice by Matt Burgess
This one was mine so I’ll be short and sweet. This book has gotten no play, but it’s an awesome depiction of a female narc officer just a few weeks short of getting detective. Long-winded stories, drugs and alcohol, and a dysfunctional justice system keep this novel moving at breakneck speed. I loved it.
So You’ve been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Another of mine. This was my first Jon Ronson, but I’m officially a convert. Funny, caustic, and at time disturbingly real, this is an important book written with a hilarious wit. I think every single person would enjoy this book. Seriously.
Church of Marvels by Lesly Parry
I’ve already talked about how much I loved this read, but who believes me anyways! This book was recommended by another booklover who highly recommends you don’t read ANYTHING before plunging into it. The surprises along the way will be worth the wait.
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
This “goes down like a chocolate milkshake,” an image that I want in all my reading experiences. Not Chick Lit, not a rom-com. Just really, really, really good.
Among the 10,000 Things by Julia Pierpont
More dysfunctional families, but this one deserves a second look. Pierpont has played with form in a way you might love or hate. Either way, watching this well-crafted family deal in the wake of infidelity will keep you reading with your heart in your throat.
We the Animals by Justin Torres
A debut novel of amazingly accomplished literary nerve, Torres’ coming-of-age story of three brothers growing up in New York is fast-paced with the beautiful guts of childhood. It was described as the ultimate palet-cleanser for some of that not-so-great-new-fiction you read. Plus, at 128 pages, you can breeze through this when you’re taking a crying break from A Little Life.
Throw in a few more discussions about Harper Lee, sexy lit, and devastating spoilers, and you can pretend that you were there!