Read It Forward

Debut novelist and self-proclaimed space nerd Andy Weir manages to make every moment of astronaut Mark Watney’s outer-space ordeal painstakingly realistic and believable.

For scifi fans, The Martian is an obvious choice: the kind of debut space fiction geeks will gobble up like candy. But even if you’re not a big science fiction reader, you should consider reading The Martian with your book group. It’s smart, provocative – with plenty of hot topics to discuss – and it’s just the kind of book to reboot your reading routine.

Have you ever read outside your comfort zone? If so, tell us about it! Was it inspiring or disastrous?

“Sure, you know all about getting into a rut at work, socially, and in your exercise regimen,” says Nicole Sprinkle. “But what about in your reading life?

Even pleasurable pastimes can become dull. While you probably stick with a favorite genre, author or style of writing – and with good reason, of course! – doing so sometimes that limits your perspective, your circle of knowledge, and even your imagination.”

RIFer Karen won a copy of Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready from us and wrote a review on her sister Kathy’s book blog, BermudaOnion.

“I really like his Spademan character even if he is a hitman,” she says. “He is flawed, but he does have his redeeming qualities. Told mainly through a series of dialogues the book is a fairly quick read.

It’s dystopian fiction that draws the reader’s thoughts to present day issues of religion, ethics and technology. If you’re not a fan of dystopian I think you’ll still enjoy this suspenseful novel.”

Does knowing that a book won a literary award make you more likely to read it? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

The winner of the 2014 Man Booker prize will be unveiled tonight (October 14, 2014) in a ceremony in Guildhall, London. We’re thrilled to share an excerpt from one of the finalists: J by Howard Jacobson.

J is a dystopia that invites comparison with George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.” –Sunday Times

How important is a book’s genre? If you’re not a big scifi reader, will you try a science fiction novel if it comes highly recommended? Why or why not? Let’s talk in the comments.

The Martian by Andy Weir has been called “scifi for people who don’t usually read scifi.”

The Associated Press says it well: “it’s a story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, non-fiction, or flat-out adventure [and] an authentic portrayal of the future of space travel.” Plus, the narrator is hilarious.

Suki Kim talks about her haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea’s ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il’s reign.

“Our rooms and offices were bugged,” Kim reveals. “Each building on campus was connected by an enclosed walkway with windows on either side, so everything everywhere was visible. We had to get permission for everything as though we were children. Thinking was dangerous, but there was also no time for thinking. It sometimes felt as though ‘I’ did not exist. This was a very foreign feeling—deeply claustrophobic and sometimes almost unbearable.”