Our very first year as a book club has concluded! We started this book club as a way for my sisters, mom and I to stay connected even with the distance between us through our mutual love of books. We live in Rochester (NY), Pittsburgh (PA), and Philadelphia (PA), all of which are about 5-6 hours from each other in a triangle. We don’t get to see each other more than a few times a year, but video calling once a month has made the distance a bit easier this year. We spent time discussing each book, but inevitably our conversations would veer to other things and the kids pop on screen. It was a nice way to catch up each month beyond phone calls.
From a reading perspective, this book club helped me to read books I would not normally read. It also helped me finally read some books I have been wanting to read. Our book selections were fairly diverse in character experiences and locales around the world. Through our selections we visited Sweden, Appalachia, provincial England, Russia, pioneer Alaska, the wild west of America, Japan, and Nigeria. Our main characters ranged from teenagers to old curmudgeonly men. We also had the chance to see through the eyes of characters who come from cultures vastly different than our own. In essence, this year was everything I’d hoped from a book club.
That being said, not every book was a hit. Only one person in our book club read every single book–our mom. I skipped Middlemarch, but read all of the others. I just couldn’t get into that classic. I even tried cheating by watching the BBC miniseries version and kept falling asleep. Just not my jam. Anyway, each of us ranked our reads for this year and we only agree on one thing, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett was our favorite book club read of the year. The pick that received the lowest overall ranking, by far, was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Here is a look at our rankings in order of their average rank. I have also linked my reviews for each of the books (except Middlemarch) in case you want to check any out.
|Commonwealth – Ann Patchett||1||1||1||1||1|
|Winter Garden – Kristin Hannah||3||5||2||3||2|
|To the Bright Edge of the World – Eowyn Ivey||2||4||3||6||3|
|The Summer Before the War – Helen Simonson||7||3||4||4||4|
|A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman||4||9||9||5||5|
|Middlemarch – George Eliot||9||2||5||11||5|
|Women of the Silk – Gail Tsukiyama||5||6||8||10||7|
|Americanah – Chimanada Ngozi Adiche||10||11||7||2||9|
|Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon||6||7||10||7||9|
|News of the World – Paulette Jiles||8||8||6||9||10|
|Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance||11||10||11||8||11|
Stay tuned for the upcoming post which will unveil our 2018 Family Book Club Picks!