Monday, March 6, 2023

What R U Reading? Book Club Bests

 I’ve been in a book club that has met for once a month since my daughter was born. She is now nineteen. It’s mostly educators and mostly English teachers. It grew out of a way to stay in touch when we followed new paths, different schools or retirement. Currently we have a retired science and retired English teacher, a retired tax preparer, a computer science teacher, a school counselor, an athletic trainer and two English teachers. Book Club pushes us to read against ourselves and read books we normally wouldn’t pick up. Currently I indulge in urban fantasy mystery series, but I apparently have the distinction of choosing the long books, my science friend, nonfiction etc. Three books that we read this year are hits and I recommend them if you are getting ready for spring break reads.

My pick this fall was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. You will have to stick with it initially because it’s a little confusing at first due to the multiplicity of stories that weave together. It’s historical fiction, Greek mythology, science fiction and contemporary fiction and well worth your time. It’s a story of libraries and makes you think hard about civilization. 

My next suggestion is When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. It’s another genre bender as it’s written as part scientific journal and historical fiction with an element of magical realism.  I can’t say much, but it’s a good companion novel with my final recommendation, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, a book that I resisted for awhile. 

Book Club forced me to read Lessons in Chemistry. I assumed it was some kind of love story and it is, but it’s much bigger than that. It’s a love story and a reminder of what life was like for women in the past. It lead to a much larger discussion about our mothers and grandmothers and although I’ve been reading and taking books with this group of women for a long time, I learn so much more every time we meet.

What reading do you recommend? 


  1. So fun to see your recommendations! I've read the first two and started the last one but haven't finished it yet (it was due back at the library and I haven't gotten it out again yet). I really liked When Women Were Dragons. Cloud Cuckoo Land was more of a slog for me--I was tempted to abandon it when I hadn't finished it by the book club meeting, but the other people in my group encouraged me to keep going, and I'm glad I did. The ending made a big difference in how I liked the work as a whole. What my book club read recently that I absolutely loved was The Firekeeper's Daughter. I loved the complexity of the characters and Indigenous community that it portrayed.

  2. Your book club sounds great. Thanks for these recommendations. I've been in a book club for years too. We recently read Pachinko which I really liked. We also read The Plot, and I'm now reading The Latecomer. I recommend them both. I might have to try Lessons in Chemistry since it keeps coming up as a book to read.

  3. I can't ever turn down a chance to read book recommendations and your post didn't disappoint! I've heard lots about Cloud Cuckoo Land--adding it to my TBR list! Your book club sounds amazing--I'd love to hear more about the books you've shared over the years!

  4. I went to a book club for runners tonight! People who aren't English teachers talk about books differently... it made me miss the book club with you. The book was great though - Spirit Run by Noe Alvarez 😊 (Erin D.)

  5. I enjoyed all of these but I sure loved Lessons in Chemistry— glad we got to chat a bit about it this week! And the whole idea of draggoning from When Women… so, so good! Keep the recs coming, Beth!


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