November Book Club Update!

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We’ve got two new book clubs on the line-up and plenty of great books coming to all our others for November! Read on for all the great selections our booksellers have made and grab your copies in time for those meetings!

First up is one of the newbies! New bookseller Chris will be hosting Subject to Change: A reading list of Coming-Of-Age Stories and anything that fits or fights the category. Meeting once a month to discuss this literature of becoming. The first meeting will be Thursday, November 1st, with The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee!

From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace, Nobel laureate and two-time Booker Prize winner J.M. Coetzee returns with a haunting and surprising novel about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels. Separated from his mother as a passenger on a boat bound for a new land, David is a boy who is quite literally adrift. The piece of paper explaining his situation is lost, but a fellow passenger, Simón, vows to look after the boy. When the boat docks, David and Simón are issued new names, new birthdays, and virtually a whole new life. Strangers in a strange land, knowing nothing of their surroundings, nor the language or customs, they are determined to find David's mother. Though the boy has no memory of her, Simón is certain he will recognize her at first sight. "But after we find her," David asks, "what are we here for?" An eerie allegorical tale told largely through dialogue, The Childhood of Jesus is a literary feat-a novel of ideas that is also a tender, compelling narrative. Coetzee's many fans will celebrate his return while new readers will find The Childhood of Jesus an intriguing introduction to the work of a true master.

Can’t make it to the first meeting? Grab a copy of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and join Subject to Change for their next book club discussion on Thursday, December 6th! Email chris@citylitbooks.com with any questions about this club.

This month the Graphic Content book club, our reading group exclusively for graphic novels, is reading I, Parrot by Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle! Graphic Content will meet on Tuesday, November 6th.

Typing up positive-thought messages for a self-help guru isn't exactly Daphne's idea of dream job. But to regain custody of her nine-year-old son, she's willing to try. A few weeks later, when that same self-help guru asks her to take care of 100 endangered parrots, Daphne is willing to try that too. What ensues is a hilarious, heartbreaking tragicomedy involving the love of her life, the landlady from hell, three house painters, a flock of passenger pigeons and a super-sized bag of mite-killing powder. With text by acclaimed author Deb Olin Unferth and stunning illustrations by artist Elizabeth Haidle, I, Parrot is not only a poignant, literary graphic novel, but also a portrait of woman who will do anything--no matter how ridiculous or revolutionary--to care for her child and find a to triumph in world where idealists and misfits rarely win.

Next up for Graphic Content: everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun on Monday, December 3rd.

This month’s Wilde Readers book club selection has come highly recommended from a number of trusted sources, so be here Tuesday, November 13th to chat about Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl  by Andrea Lawlor.

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flãneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco--a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor's debut novel offers a speculative history of early '90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

For December, Wilde Readers will be reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and meeting to discuss on Tuesday, December 11th. Email matt@citylitbooks.com with any club questions.

Back with another novel destined for classic status, the Instant Classics book club is reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Join Instant Classics for a discussion on Wednesday, November 14th.

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals--while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel "the unbearable lightness of being." A major achievement from one of the world's truly great writers, Milan Kundera's magnificent novel of passion and politics, infidelity and ideas, encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, illuminating all aspects of human existence.

Next month the Instant Classics book club will be reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and discussing the book on Wednesday, December 12. Email clare@citylitbooks.com for questions about Instant Classics.

Diving into another fresh English translation, the Found in Translation book club will be meeting to discuss The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from Serbo-Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth, on Thursday, November 15th.

The Museum of Unconditional Surrender--by the renowned Yugoslavian writer Dubravka Ugresic--begins in the Berlin Zoo, with the contents of Roland the Walrus's stomach displayed beside his pool (Roland died in August, 1961). These objects--a cigarette lighter, lollipop sticks, a beer-bottle opener, etc.--like the fictional pieces of the novel itself, are seemingly random at first, but eventually coalesce, meaningfully and poetically. Written in a variety of literary forms, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender captures the shattered world of a life in exile. Some chapters re-create the daily journal of the narrator's lonely and alienated mother, who shops at the improvised flea-markets in town and longs for her children; another is a dream-like narrative in which a circle of women friends are visited by an angel. There are reflections and accounts of the Holocaust and the Yugoslav Civil War; portraits of European artists; a recipe for Caraway Soup; a moving story of a romantic encounter the narrator has in Lisbon; descriptions of family photographs; memories of the small town in which Ugresic was raised. Addressing the themes of art and history, aging and loss, The Museum is a haunting and an extremely original novel. In the words of the Times Literary Supplement, "it is vivid in its denunciation of destructive forces and in its evocation of what is at stake."

Want a head start on next month’s book? Grab your copy of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch for the Found in Translation meeting on Thursday, December 20th. Email audie@citylitbooks.com for more info about this book club.

To celebrate the current season, W.W.B., our reading group that celebrates women authors, is reading Autumn by Ali Smith. Join W.W.B. for their discussion on Monday, November 19th.

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.

After that, W.W.B. will be reading History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund and meeting on Monday, December 17th to discuss. For questions, send an email to allison@citylitbooks.com

Though they’ve changed their regularly scheduled meeting time for the season, In Brief, the club that meets to discuss a work of short stories or personal essays from writers both new and established, is still on! With a new title by the author released recently, In Brief is checking out a previous collection of stories by Haruki Murakami: After the Quake!

The six stories in Haruki Murakami's mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami's characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package--and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in" After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.

In Brief will meet again on Monday, December 10th to discuss Tenth of December by George Saunders. …see what we did there?

This month the Weird & Wonderful book club takes on a “luminary of the science-fiction genre,” James Tiptree, Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever collects eighteen brilliant short stories from James Tiptree, Jr. This updated edition is the quintessential Tiptree collection and contains revisions from the author's original notes. Tiptree's fiction reflects the darkly complex world its author inhabited: exploring the alien among us; the unreliability of perception; love, sex, and death; and humanity's place in a vast, cold universe.

Since this is a rather large collection, we’ll be focusing the book club’s discussion on the following stories: The Screwfly Solution, Houston, Houston, Do You Read?, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hillside, and The Women Men Don't See.

Tune in next month for the Weird & Wonderful meeting on Tuesday, December 18th: The Vegetarian by Han Kang!

And last, but certainly not least, our other new book club: Celestial Hobo! Celestial Hobo is poetry for people who don’t usually read it. (Poetry-readers welcome, too! Teach us some stuff that we don’t know.) and will be hosted by Cody on the first Wednesday of each month. Catch the first meeting on Wednesday, December 5th with a discussion of Eye Level: Poems by Jenny Xie.

Jenny Xie's award-winning debut, Eye Level, takes us far and near, to Phnom Penh, Corfu, Hanoi, New York, and elsewhere, as we travel closer and closer to the acutely felt solitude that centers this searching, moving collection. Animated by a restless inner questioning, these poems meditate on the forces that moor the self and set it in motion, from immigration to travel to estranging losses and departures. The sensual worlds here--colors, smells, tastes, and changing landscapes--bring to life questions about the self as seer and the self as seen. As Xie writes, "Me? I'm just here in my traveler's clothes, trying on each passing town for size." Her taut, elusive poems exult in a life simultaneously crowded and quiet, caught in between things and places, and never quite entirely at home. Xie is a poet of extraordinary perception--both to the tangible world and to "all that is untouchable as far as the eye can reach."

For questions about this new book club, email cody@citylitbooks.com.

Remember – no need to sign up for our book clubs, just read up and come ready to discuss. Don’t forget that all our book club selections are 10% off in store! Feel free to email your favorite booksellers with questions about these book clubs, or with recommendations for books to discuss in the future. And don’t forget our book club partnership! If you’re already part of a book club or want to get one started, email matt@citylitbooks.com to find out about getting discounted books and meeting here at City Lit! Happy reading!