2012 Book Club Reading List (and some for 2013)

Norwegian Wood

You might recall this post, where I asked your opinion on which books to pitch at my book club’s yearly selection meeting. The book that I most wanted to read, was also the book that I feared would get overlooked because of its content, its overly depressing nature… the fact that it’s about yet another school shooting. Well, I was right. It didn’t go over well. There were some who wanted to read it, but when it came down to it, We Need to Talk About Kevin was voted out. I think I stared off in space in disbelief.  Oh, that was the wine.

My second pitch was The Sense of an Ending, but another member pitched it right before me. That left me with Lamb, which would have been a fabulous choice for discussion, but as soon as I mentioned that it involved an older man and a young girl, I saw the eyes looks elsewhere. Good lord! I just about lost it. Not because I was mad. Certainly not, but because it seems as if anything somewhat controversial gets shot down.

In my head, I was dying. I had about five other books in front of me so in a last ditch effort to get a book chosen, I pitched Norwegian Wood and it made it in. Now THAT surprised me. I haven’t read NW myself but if it’s like Murakami’s other books these folks are in for a wild ride. Plus, it’s sexually charged. Well, that’s what folks tell me.

We picked twelve books but we had books for this year already chosen so there is some overlap into 2013. Here is the list:

2012 Book Club Reading List

Jan – The Lost City of Z by David Grann [review] (chosen last year)

Feb – The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee (chosen last year)

Mar – The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds (my pick from last year)

Apr – The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

May – The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Durrow

Jun – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (my 4th time reading it)

Jul – The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Aug – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Sep – The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Oct – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Nov – The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Dec – The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

2013 Book Club Reading List (to be continued)

Jan – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Feb – The Submission by Amy Waldman

Mar – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell (my 4th time reading it)

At first, I felt so-so about the list. I went home and tried to decipher my chicken scratch (apparently, the chicken was on crack) and it just looked okay to me. Now that I have the official list, I am liking it more. It’s varied and balanced from what I can tell and should, for the most part, generate plenty of discussion.

Now, if I could just pull myself out of the reading rut I’ve found myself in, I’d be thrilled to pieces!

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59 Responses

  1. I’ve read 1984 and Huck Finn a number of times like you. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, The Submission, The Lost City of Z, and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky are all on my tbr list…though I still have yet to read the Murakami short stories I had to return to the library because they had holds. I will have to take that out again.

    I have read Lotus Eaters, which was good…there will definitely be a great deal of discussion with that one as it is told from a photojournalist POV rather than a soldier during the Vietnam War. I hope you enjoy your reads.

    I’m looking forward to my book club reads, though some of them are outside my comfort zone for sure.

    • I think reading should make you a little bit uncomfortable. That’s a strange statement to hear but that’s how we grow as readers. I often seek out books that stretch me in ways that I never imagined.

  2. The only ones I’ve read are 1984 and Huckleberry Finn. My book club doesn’t like controversial books either and I think they’re the best books to discuss.

    • They have a tendency to call the heavier books depressing. I do come across stories that are truly depressing, ones that have to do with poverty or abuse against children, etc. But to me, deep does not necessarily equate to depressing. If I read nothing by happy books I’d probably think something in my own life is lacking because let’s face it, no one’s life is perfect.

  3. I hope you love The Lotus Eaters as much as I did! Sad that they knock down all the controversial books. You’d think those would spark the most discussion!

    I just joined the book club Serena organized, and we chose our books through August. I liked how we had everyone bring 2 books and we all voted for one of them, then just drew for who would get what month. Let’s hope this club works out. ;)

    • I saw the list that Serena posted. Looks like you guys have some great books as well. I hope this group works out for you. She expressed how difficult it’s been to get one together that sticks.

  4. The chicken on crack made me laugh!

  5. How funny that you ended up with NW with all those others being shot down. NW would scare me but maybe that’s because I haven’t read a Murakami yet. Well, I really look forward to hearing about the discussion for The Girl Whi Fell From the Sky in May and the the Submission next year, LOL!

    • I really want to see the movie version of Norwegian Wood but I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD so I can read the book first.

  6. I think it’s a very impressive list. My bookclub is all about: is it short enough?!!!

    • Short books are often sought by the group but if the book is supposed to be really good, like Invisible Bridge (850+ pages), then we’ll give it a go, but cushion it with two shorter books before and after.

  7. This is a good list. I loved The Rules of Civility but I love just about anything set in NYC since my family is from there. I can connect to the descriptions of the streets, live in the early 1900’s (from stories.. of course).

    I think I will add your choice to my list. I haven’t read anything by this author. It would be a good challenge. DId you know I have read at least one book from your book clubs list the past few years? I love getting to read something I wasn’t aware of.

    Did you read A very long engagement? I don’t remember reading your review. Did you like it? Did your BC discuss it?

    The Buddha in the Attic and The Submission are also on my TBR list.

    • You have a good memory! My club did read Very Long Engagement but for whatever reason,. I never read it. I think the meeting conflicted with open house or something at the school so I just never got to it. The club liked it though.

    • I agree The Rules of Civility was one of my favorite books of the last year. I loved the writing style and characters.

  8. Norwegian Wood looks good! I will wait to see your review and then maybe add it to my wish list.
    I read The Lost City of Z, I thought it was good and very interesting, but also kinda slow in parts. But definitely worth the read!

    • Lost City of Z WAS slow in parts. I actually didn’t like it all that much until we discussed it. Only then did I gain a full appreciation for it.

  9. It is too bad your book club shies away from the more “difficult” reads but it looks like you have an interesting mix of books for the next year. I really do need to read “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, hopefully right after the TBR Dare.

    • I am going to read Kevin the first week of April with a couple of other bloggers. No formal read along, just reading it together so we can chat about it. You want to join in…let me know.

  10. The buddha in the attic was our January 2012 read. I’ll be interested to know what you think. I will be putting up my review of it soon. Also, I wanted to tell you – I put Norwegian Wood on my mental list of books to look out for. Last night I was seeing a friend off at the train station and noticed a well known book store that usually stocks English books had reopened nearby. Of course I went in to inspect, and what should I find but Norwegian Wood with a 25% off sticker on it. It is now sitting on my shelf winking at me. Thanks for the heads up about this one!

  11. There are some great titles on there! You will love Lotus Eaters, and FYI, she called into our book club. She was absolutely WONDERFUL to talk to.

    • Good to know. We had an author visit once and when she started to read her erotic fiction, we couldn’t keep a straight face. I am not sure we will ever have an author visit or call for that reason. I just about lost it and had to leave the room. I am one of those that cannot stop laughing once I start.

  12. We are about to embark on making up our list for next year ( we go from Sept. to May… though I think we’ll do the summer this year!) and it’s one of my favorite parts of book club. I don’t even recognize many of the books on your list! My book club would look at me with very blank eyes too I think! But it’s always my goal to load the list with at least a few books I haven’t read already. We’ll see how that goes.

  13. What a fantastic list! You have so many on there that I’ve been wanting to read.

  14. It looks like you are in for an adventurous reading year!!!

  15. I do so wish that they had chosen Kevin, because there is just so much to talk about with that book, but I can see they are a mite conservative and that book ruffles many feathers. I think it looks like an interesting list, and a few of the books on it are new to me. Looks like you have read a few of them as well, so it will probably be cool to reread and get different perspectives on some of them. I do hope that you post about some of them here, and post the club’s reactions to them after the meeting!

    • I post reviews for all books read, so if I read it, it will be reviewed. I don’t always remember to note their reactions but I will try to remember to do that. Especially the ones that spark a lot of discussion.

  16. I’m always surprised when book clubs shoot down controversial books because I think they make for great discussions. You have quite a few books on this list that I have on my reading list this year. I hope you all enjoy them. I’ll be watching for your reviews.

  17. What an interesting list! I’ve read several, and even among those I was less crazy about, I think they will all lead to interesting discussion! Happy reading!

    • Thanks! I will probably end up liking some of these, although it’s not a requirement for me. As long as we have a good discussion, I’m good.

  18. Ti,
    An impressive choice of books! Like a few others, I have read a couple and never heard of some others. I will be looking forward to reading your reviews. I will, of course be in touch after my BG discusses Norwegian Wood next month!

    • Great! I look forward to hearing from you. It will give me a good idea on what to expect from my group when they read it.

  19. I’ve never belonged to a book club – they sound interesting, although I’d think a more controversial novel would bring about more discussion. Out of your list I’ve only read 1984 and Huckleberry Finn. Will be interesting to hear about the other reads!

    • Wah?? You’ve never belonged to a book club? Mine has been going for almost 15 years now. I thought it was 14 but I am being told it’s 15. WOW. I enjoy it although we have had our own ups and downs.

      • I know, sheltered life or what, right? Maybe now that I’m in a bigger city, I’ll be able to find one and give it a try. I like the wine aspect of it :)

  20. I’m impressed you choose books so far in advance. We operate strictly on a month to month basis now. Used to select 3 at a time, but when we got to the last one, it seemed nobody wanted to read it anymore. Even ended up changing books a couple of times!

    Your list looks great! I loved The Sense of an Ending. Didn’t care much for Huck Finn when I was in school, but it would be interesting to read from an adult perspective. I somehow managed to avoid 1984 in high school… not sure how that happened.

    • When we first started, we picked ahead by 3 months but we spent so much time at the meetings trying to come up with books that it took all of our discussion time to do it. This works so much better for us. If there are bright, shiny books that come up, we read them on the side with others, if they want to.

  21. It is a shame they didn’t go for Kevin because it is such a good book and there would be SO much to talk about. And why shy away from controversial? That makes for lively discussion. Too bad you are reading some books for the 4th time! Still, there are some good ones on there. And NW is going to be a little more out there than they think! HAHA.

  22. This was the first year my book club picked books in advance and we got about 6 mo in and people started hyperventilating so I am very impressed that you guys can do this!

  23. This looks like a pretty interesting list, although there are a few I might not enjoy.

    As for reading ruts, we all have those. For me, generally reading something light and fun helps me ease back in. You’ve been reading some heavy tombs since 1Q84, maybe time for something fun or a memoir.

  24. Glad to see Norwegian Wood finally made it into your list! Should be an exciting year for your club,.

  25. The fact that your book club shies away from controversial reads is disappointing, but I do give you guys points for selecting some lengthier reads. I find many clubs refuse to read books over 300pgs in length which always baffles me.

  26. Book club book choices can definitely be a bummer. I’m struggling with Vilette by Charlotte Bronte right now for book club. I hate it and don’t think I’ll finish it, which makes me feel bad, because I don’t like to quit things in the middle (that and I end up hating/not finishing about half of the books our club chooses). I feel kind of obligated to keep reading it though, because we read a sci-fi choice last month that was my pick (Ender’s Game) and most of those gals aren’t usually into sci-fi but they humored me.

    I’ve only read a few on the list (like the classics, 1984, etc.) I loved The Lotus Eaters and will be curious to see what you think of that one.

    • Ender’s Game is on my list of “to-reads” ever since I read The Lost Boys. Good for you for getting them to read it. It’s sci-fi but it’s a “put sci-fi on the map” type of book.

  27. Norwegian Wood is on my ereader, waiting for me….Nice list of books!

  28. I thought The Lotus Eaters was just flippin’ fantastic…very emotional read!

  29. Thank you for posting your book club pix. The book club I belong stay in their own boring comfort zone. Dullzville! Can’t stand it either. It always seems to be geared to women’s fiction, not chick-lit, but women fiction, after awhile it is the same thing, friendships, and marriage, family. After awhile I want to read something different.

    This month, we are finally reading something different, Killing Lincoln. Non-fiction.

    Furthermore, if you put the book on the table, you have to read it. How dumb. Who wants to read the book twice.

    We did for a couple of years pick books for the entire year, but doesn’t work for us. Instead, we do every three months.

    We are up to pick books again, I am hoping for Faith by Jennifer Haigh. But, it is too controversial, we will have to see what happens.

  30. Thanks for your post. Your book club sounds like our. The same old dull books. Let’s get out of women’s fiction. It is always the same, family, marriage, girlfriends, not some interesting controversial topic.

    Hoping to recommend Faith by Jennifer Haigh for our book club.

  31. The list is pretty good actually. There are a couple I don’t care to read and a few I haven’t heard, but overall, it does look good and diverse. That said, I am upset that anything with a controversial theme was shot down. Stuff does happen right – better to be aware of it than live in cocoons. Oh well, to each his own I guess. People probably look for different things in their books.

  32. What a list! I do feel bad for you to have to read 1984 again–after analyzing that book to death in high school, I vowed never to read it again! :) Looking forward to reading Kevin with you this spring–it does look dark but for some reason I have had it on my to read list for quite some time.
    *smiles*

  33. That really is a varied list and looks like it should generate plenty of discussion. Although I’m not sure I could force myself to read a book for the 4th time!

  34. Did you finish The Sense of an Ending? I just finished it and am still no sure how I feel about it. The whole time I felt like I was walking on a moving train and didn’t quite have my footing, there were so many revelations! I think I would have liked it more if the unreliable narrator element had not been so heralded on the book cover. I was expecting something like Remains of the Day or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

    • I haven’t read Sense yet. I have been so busy with work that my book club list got pushed to the side. I have to start it up again. I know lots of people said they weren’t too sure about the ending.

  35. In my opinion, being in a book club with a group of different people gives you the opportunity to read something you wouldn’t necessary pick. We have been meeting for 5 yrs now and we have given our highest ratings to:
    One thousand white women by Jim Fergus
    Year of wonder by Geraldine March
    We read We Need to talk about Kevin, I personally disliked this book very much.

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