Another month, another book (or 8) to check off your reading list! Once again, our book club lineup is a great mix of choices for just about any summer reading you might want; from light-hearted and humorous to dark and chilling, a dip into the “classics,” with some modern twists, a little nostalgia for bygone summers, and musings from a few of our favorite writers – just the way we like it. You know it’s a good mix of books when the City Lit staff can’t get any other reading done on account of being roped into each other’s book club picks. It’s always exciting for us to find a new book outside of our regular reading habits, so we hope you’ll try something new this month and drop in on one of our book club meetings!
Time for another well-loved book on its way to classic status! This month’s selection for the Instant Classics book club is a winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson!
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
Be here Monday, August 8th at 6:30 pm to chat with Maddie and the Instant Classics book club, or join us next month for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!
Nothing beats the way summer feels when you’re a kid, but this month the Graphic Content book club is trying to recapture the feeling of those easy days in the sun. Check out this graphic novel about crossing from childhood to adolescence: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki!
Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It's her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It's a summer of secrets and heartache, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
Join Jordan and the Graphic Content book club on Monday, August 13th at 6:30 pm! Next month we’ll be reading Why Art? by Eleanor Davis!
It’s back to the ‘classics’ for the Wilde Readers book club this month. We’re reading The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal!
A literary cause célèbre when first published more than fifty years ago, Gore Vidal's now-classic The City and the Pillar stands as a landmark novel of the gay experience. Jim, a handsome, all-American athlete, has always been shy around girls. But when he and his best friend, Bob, partake in "awful kid stuff," the experience forms Jim's ideal of spiritual completion. Defying his parents' expectations, Jim strikes out on his own, hoping to find Bob and rekindle their amorous friendship. Along the way he struggles with what he feels is his unique bond with Bob and with his persistent attraction to other men. Upon finally encountering Bob years later, the force of his hopes for a life together leads to a devastating climax. The first novel of its kind to appear on the American literary landscape, The City and the Pillar remains a forthright and uncompromising portrayal of sexual relationships between men.
Wilde Readers will meet on Tuesday, August 14th at 6:30 pm! In September, we’ll meet to talk about the recent Pulitzer Prize winner Less by Andrew Sean Greer!
Next up for the Found in Translation book club is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson!
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us. We are in an elegant hôtel particulier in the center of Paris. Renée, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants--her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth. Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her.
Hang out with Audie and the Found in Translation book club on Thursday, August 16th! Little Beast by Julie Demers, translated by Rhonda Mullins, is up next!
Our newest book club is back for its second meeting! This month W.W.B. will meet to discuss How Should a Person Be? By Sheila Heti!
Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create in a raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millennium. By turns loved and reviled upon its U.S. publication, Sheila Heti's "breakthrough novel" (Chris Kraus, Los Angeles Review of Books) is an unabashedly honest and hilarious tour through the unknowable pieces of one woman's heart and mind. Part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part vivid exploration of the artistic and sexual impulse, How Should a Person Be? earned Heti comparisons to Henry Miller, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, and Flaubert, while shocking and exciting readers with its raw, urgent depiction of female friendship and of the shape of our lives now. Irreverent, brilliant, and completely original, Heti challenges, questions, frustrates, and entertains in equal measure. With urgency and candor she asks: What is the most noble way to love? What kind of person should you be?
Join Allison and the W.W.B. book club on Monday, August 20th at 6:30 pm! Next month, come by for one of Allison’s favorites: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson!
It’s weird! It’s wonderful! It’s our monthly celebration of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange – the Weird & Wonderful book club! This month we’re reading The Devourers by Indra Das!
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man's unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger's behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins. From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman--and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok's interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent. Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.
Hang out with the Weird & Wonderful book club Wednesday, August 22nd! Come back next month for There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya!
This month our club for non-fiction and current events, the Tell Me How It Ends book club, is reading a shop favorite, Eula Biss and On Immunity!
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear-fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world. In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected-our bodies and our fates.
Tell Me How It Ends will meet Monday, August 27th at 6:30 pm, and next month we’ll be reading They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib!
With David Sedaris’ latest (and maybe best) book out this summer, we’re taking it back to one of his earlier collections! This month the In Brief book club is reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris!
From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.
Meet with Matty and the In Brief book club on Tuesday, August 28th at 6:30 pm! For September, grab a copy of Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore!
And don’t forget the ongoing Lit & Luz Book Club with MAKE Literary Productions! There are three chances to meet in the month of August for a discussion about Julian Herbert’s Tomb Song!
August 8, 2018 – Read/Write Library, 914 N. California
August 15, 2018 – Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60654
August 22, 2018 – ACRE, 1345 W. 19th Street
Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next. Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction. Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert's English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.
We’ve got the book here, pick it up and head to any of this month’s meetings before meeting author at the Lit & Luz Festival in October!
Remember – no sign up necessary for our book clubs! Just grab a copy of the book, get it here for a discount, and drop in for the meeting! Happy reading!