Another year on the books! This month marks two years since we first started The Bookly Club. Thank you to all of you who have joined us here. This year we enjoyed reading a diverse group of books, which we mostly liked. Here’s our year (2016) in review:
March: Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church
In 2001 a group of reporters for The Boston Globe started a series of reports on the Catholic Church’s management of sexual abuse. This group of journalists methodically and publicly uncovered the church’s decades-long neglect, denial and deliberate coverup of sexual abuse committed by numerous Boston area priests.
Our thoughts …
“The crimes committed by the abusers are only equalled (if not surpassed) by the Church’s complete and abject failure to protect its children from repeated, horrific, sexual abuse. As grotesque as its subject matter may be, this book is important to read.”
April: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
Novak’s book is a series of fictional short stories born from his creative imagination. Just a few of the short stories include: a boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes; a woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins; and a new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options.
Our thoughts …
“I was consistently and repeatedly impressed with how intelligently written all of B.J. Novak’s stories were. They are all based in that intellectual, thought-provoking humor that manages to still be just a little silly and a little absurd. I really enjoyed it. It’s also an incredibly fast read.”
May & June: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Set in the early 1990’s, this book tells the story of Charlie, who narrates through a series of letters written to an anonymous recipient as he treks through his freshman year of high school. The book’s powerful representation of a niche time in life has gained the book (and film) a cult following.
“Full of all the angst and humiliation that comes with adolescence, this short and sweet book packs a punch that will leave you feeling all the feels.”
July: On The Run
This book is author Alice Goffman’s ethnographic account of the six years she spent living in West Philadelphia observing the impact of mass incarceration and policing on low-income, urban, African-American communities.
“The book read a bit like separate articles without a magic thread piecing it all together. That in combination with the heavy topic made it difficult to tear apart. I will say that with all the sorrow and tragedy that has befallen this planet in the past few months, I wish for us all to find a little more understanding and a little less fear. Perhaps its publications like Goffman’s that can help in that movement.”
August: We Are Called to Rise
It tells the story of Avis, Bashkim, Luis, and Roberta. Four very different people living very different lives in Las Vegas. These lives—a young immigrant boy, a middle-aged housewife, a military veteran, and a social worker—all converge into one uplifting story.
“I liked the book but I didn’t love it, and I think I was expecting to love it. There were just a few things in the way of me falling in love with it: the story was interesting, but a little predictable, and the characters were well-written but I didn’t feel like all of their stories were fully told.”
September: To Kill a Mockingbird
It was published in 1960 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. This book has become a leading American classic, receiving numerous awards. The story it tells is based on an event that Harper Lee observed in her hometown in 1936. Overall it deals with public attitudes toward race issues in the 1930’s.
“The book, so beautifully written, allowed the imagery of a child’s vantage upon a sleepy town to jump out. I felt like the humidity of Maycomb was all encompassing. While the pace is slow, it was the poetic text that drew me into the book.”
This thriller of a novel, put simply, is about a small family who travels to the Rocky Mountains for vacation when tragedy finds them. The son and daughter take an early morning trek through the local trails, but only the son returns. This story has so many layers that it reads like a classic, page-turning, beautifully complicated, mystery favorite.
“I love when a writer can tell you so much in just a few words. And that’s what it was like reading Descent. Johnston constructed so much emotion and suspense with just a few well-chosen words. And speaking of suspense, the story itself was like the best law and order SVU episode you’ve ever seen.”
November: Flowers in the Attic
The first in the popular Dollanganger series, this disturbing tale tells the story of the Dollanganger kids. Hidden in the attic because of a family fortune, Chris, Cathy, and the twins are prepared to stay in the creepy alcove for a few days. But soon those days turn into years, and they are forced to adapt to this new life, isolated and with very little to survive.
“Ok so I’m disturbed. Which is, I guess, the point of this book. But if the only point of the book is to disturb people, then I guess it is a success. I’m not sure that tawdry is a driving force enough for me in my reads.”
December & January: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
For 2,000 years, cadavers have been involved in some of science’s greatest advancements and weirdest experiments. “Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.”
“Roach’s writing is engaging, the topic is (admittedly) interesting, and I even found myself chuckling more than just a bit – she seems to have a delightfully dry, witty sense of humor and it comes across clearly in her writing. I truly do understand the value in using human cadavers to study most of the things Roach wrote about, and it really is fascinating what important information and learning can come from the science of the dead.”
February: Pride and Prejudice
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s five unmarried daughters find themselves in uncharted waters when two eligible bachelors move into their town. And of course, misunderstandings, gossip of all kinds, missed opportunities, and many romances ensue. It’s one of the most popular books in English literature with over 20 million copies sold.
“I expected to enjoy it, but given the language, the time period and already-seen-the-movie plot line I thought it’d be more of a labor to get through. It wasn’t. Even though I knew how the story played out I found myself looking forward to picking it back up at the end of the day. I’d been charmed by each and every character and their quick wits. I eagerly stepped into the world.”