Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

A Game of Literary Kill, Marry, Shag

I feel like I’ve been preparing for this blog post almost my entire reading life, since the moment I cracked the spine on Little House on The Prairie and contemplated the romantic attributes of Alonzo. (I’d marry him – in case you were wondering…)

Let’s start with one of my most recent reading obsessions; Game of Thrones. This is tricky since half the characters I’ve loved have ended up dead – so have many of the characters I’d kill. And Khal Drago – who I’d shag. But luckily there are seven hundred more character to choose from.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Enter to Win Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella returns with another laugh-out-loud Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adventure: a hilarious road trip through the American West to Las Vegas.

Becky is on a major rescue mission! Her father has vanished from Los Angeles on a mysterious quest with her best friend’s husband. Becky’s mum is hysterical; her best friend, Suze, is desperate. Worse, Becky must tolerate an enemy along for the ride, who she’s convinced is up to no good. Determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has disappeared, help Suze, contain Alicia, and reunite her fractured family, Becky knows she must marshal all her trademark ingenuity. The result: her most outrageous and daring plan yet!

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Biography Giveaway: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

From the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot, an insightful and unconventional account of George Washington’s trusted officer and friend, that swashbuckling teenage French aristocrat the Marquis de Lafayette.

Chronicling General Lafayette’s years in Washington’s army, Vowell reflects on the ideals of the American Revolution versus the reality of the Revolutionary War. Riding shotgun with Lafayette, Vowell swerves from the high-minded debates of Independence Hall to the frozen wasteland of Valley Forge, from bloody battlefields to the Palace of Versailles, bumping into John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Lord Cornwallis, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette and various kings, Quakers and redcoats along the way.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

When It Comes To Books, Not All Loves Last Forever

Reading a book is like a love affair: there are the first, coy glances; there’s the breathless excitement; there’s the stage at which you become totally inseparable; there’s the heartache when you part. Some books will be steady, reliable, long-term loves; Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter will be there for you all your life. But then—there are the whirlwind romances. These are the books you find at exactly the right time in your life. These are the books you fall madly, deeply in love with. These are the books that change you, that hurt you, that inspire you. But when you go back to read them a year later, you’re left cold.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

How Long Would You Rather Wait Between Books?

There are few experiences more agonizing for readers than finishing a book in just a few days, only to realize that you have to wait a year for the sequel. And that’s if you’re lucky!

For some, that wait is simply too high a price to pay. Instead, they find themselves drawn to works with shorter installments released more frequently. But the experience of reading a story in chunks differs so vastly from the reward of waiting and waiting for a big book. One is like the calm, sure security of having what you want; the other is like a spontaneous, passionate love affair. Where do you fall on the spectrum, and does that preference change over time?

One of my favorite parts of my childhood (starting around 1996, when I was eight years old) was going grocery shopping with my dad on Saturdays. One Saturday every month, I saved that week’s $5 allowance to visit the B. Dalton or Waldenbooks on our route and buy the latest Animorphs book. Five bucks a pop, maybe two hundred pages, and I was usually finished with it by the time I went to school on Monday morning. The continuous cycle of waiting, buying, and reading became a ritual that would last for the next five years. (This was early days of the Internet, so within two weeks of the next month’s release, Scholastic would have updated their website with the tantalizing jacket copy about the Animorphs’ next adventure.) When the series finally bowed in 2001, I felt like there was a small, aching hole in my reading life.

Contrast that with a very different book ritual occurring around the same time: the release of a new Harry Potter book every few years. As any Millennial will tell you, this was an event: Fans dressed up for midnight release parties, which involved a lot of distracted trivia as you counted down the minutes, then mobbing the poor bookseller for your copy, then immediately plopping down on the ground and tearing into the new book.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Enter to Win the New Poetry Collection from Mary Oliver

“If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger,” Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in her stunning new collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems. Here, great happiness abounds.

Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes again to the territory within our own hearts; to the wild and to the quiet. In these poems, she describes—with joy—the strangeness and wonder of human connection.

As in Blue Horses, Dog Songs, and A Thousand Mornings, with FelicityOliver honors love, life, and beauty.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Literary Fiction Giveaway: Enter to Win The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.

Excerpt Good for Book Clubs

Pop Goes the Weasel: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller

The fog crept in from the sea, suffocating the city. It descended like an invading army, consuming landmarks, choking out the moonlight, rendering Southampton a strange and unnerving place.

Empress Road industrial estate was quiet as the grave. The body shops had shut for the day, the mechanics and supermarket workers had departed and the streetwalkers were now making their presence felt. Dressed in short skirts and bra tops, they pulled hard on their cigarettes, gleaning what little warmth they could to ward off the bone-chilling cold. Pacing up and down, they worked hard to sell their sex, but in the gloom they appeared more like skeletal wraiths than objects of desire.

The man drove slowly, his eyes raking the line of half-naked junkies. He sized them up—a sharp snap of recognition occasionally punching through—then dismissed them. They weren’t what he was looking for. Tonight he was looking for something special.

Hope jostled with fear and frustration. He had thought of nothing else for days. He was so close now, but what if it was all a lie? An urban myth? He slammed the steering wheel hard. She had to be here.

Nothing. Nothing. Noth—

There she was. Standing alone, leaning against the graffiti-embossed wall. The man felt a sudden surge of excitement. There was something different about this one. She wasn’t checking her nails or smoking or gossiping. She was simply waiting. Waiting for something to happen.

He pulled his car off the road, parking out of sight by a chain-link fence. He had to be careful, mustn’t leave anything to chance. He scanned the streetscape for signs of life, but the fog had cut them off completely. It was as if they were the only two people left in the world.

He marched across the road toward her, then checked himself, slowing his pace. He mustn’t rush this—this was something to be savored and enjoyed. The anticipation was sometimes more enjoyable than the act—experience had taught him that. He must linger over this one. In the days ahead, he would want to replay these memories as accurately as he could.