Tag Archives: Book Clubs

Review: The Swimmers

The Swimmers

The Swimmers
By Julie Otsuka
Knopf, 9780593321331, February 2022, 192pp.

The Short of It:

This slim novel packs a punch.

The Rest of It:

When the story opens, we meet the swimmers. A group of people who frequent the community pool for laps, sometimes social interaction, but mostly as a form of therapy. The busyness of their lives comes to a halt once they submerge themselves in the water. All the noise of the world is drowned out and they are left with their thoughts as trivial as some of them may be.

As their routines unfold daily, Otsuka takes note of each detail. Almost in a checklist format. We learn about the rules of the pool and how some of the swimmers follow them religiously, and some not so much but never enough to lose their pool privileges because it’s clear that each of them value that time in the water.

The second half of the story focuses on a startling flaw that appears in the form of a crack, along the bottom of the pool. What does it mean? Is it just cosmetic? Will it grow larger? Does it represent a larger issue that could jeopardize their cherished swim time? As with most changes in routine, the appearance of this crack does not go over well.

In fact, we see how it affects these swimmers, specifically Alice who is suffering from dementia. Her time in the pool, and the regular interaction with the other swimmers is what holds her memory together but as soon as that is disrupted, her memory begins to slip away even more quickly. Her daughter relays to the reader her mother’s time in the Japanese internment camp and how bits of those memories float around untethered only to disappear all together.

The Swimmers is a little sad but also wonderful. Otsuka brings importance to every minute detail.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Book That Matters Most

The Book That Matters Most

The Book That Matters Most
By Ann Hood
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393354096, August 2017, 384pp.

The Short of It:

Surprisingly enjoyable.

The Rest of It:

After Ava’s marriage falls apart, she finds herself desperate for companionship. So desperate, that at the suggestion of a close friend, she joins her book club. The club’s reading theme for the year is “the book that matters most”.  The participants select books like The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird but Ava selects a book from her childhood that many are not familiar with.

As Ava navigates life and tries to figure out where to go next, her daughter Maggie spends her days in Paris as a kept woman and spirals downward into the dark sea of addiction.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when this book was selected for my book club. Honestly, I felt like it would be too fluffy and dare I say it, too romantic and sappy but it was none of those things. The Book That Matters Most deals with some pretty deep topics. I found myself eagerly flipping the pages and because it centers around a book club, there is plenty of bookish talk which I always enjoy.

This book has been around for a little while but I don’t recall ever seeing it before it was selected for my club. I’m glad I read it. I felt like the daughter’s story was more developed than Ava’s but overall it was an enjoyable, page-turning read.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.