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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Passing Along A Book Club Discovery

Although I've always been an insatiable reader, before stopping full time work in 2010, I'd never belonged to a book club. But beginning that same year - which coincided with moving to a new home and looking for ways to connect with new people - I joined my first club. Over the ensuing ten years, I've been in and out of about twenty clubs as well as starting my own in early 2017. My involvement in these clubs has ranged from one meeting - a quick exit there because of an obnoxious moderator - to several years. I've even returned to a couple that - for one reason or another - I'd left previously.

And though I've never done a tally, I would estimate more than 75% of the book club selections were books I'd never have picked on my own. If you've belonged to one or more book clubs, how does that compare to your experience? Of that group of books I wouldn't have picked, I'd guess about half were written by authors I've subsequently looked forward to returning to. How does that compare to your experience? I count Lily King as one of my book club discoveries.

King's 2020 book - Writers and Lovers - is a book even the most casual reader will breeze through. That is not damning praise. Through the voice of Casey Peabody - a thirty-one-year old writer whose life appears to be slowly unraveling - King artfully tells a story that will seem painfully familiar to anyone who wondered - as I did - if they were going to make it through their young adult years.

"There's  a particular feeling in your body when something goes right after a long time of things going wrong." Until I read that sentence, it's possible I didn't fully appreciate how meeting my wife when I was twenty-eight years old felt exactly that way. "It's a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone." Precisely. "Like many parents, my father wanted to give me what he didn't get, then he wanted me to get what he couldn't reach." I've read books twice as long as Writers and Lovers that grappled with the legacy that parents - for better or worse - leave their children. Some of those books did not have one sentence as wise as that one.

BTW, if you decide to read Writers and Lovers - and you love it as I did - be sure to go back one book in King's catalog and read Euphoria. Darker but equally skillful. King is a keeper and for that I have one of my book clubs to thank.


  1. I have read both books by Lily King. I loved Euphoria - a favorite. I recently read Writers and Lovers for a book club and wasn't that keen on it. It just didn't connect well with me... BTW, you got the title wrong twice after getting it right the first time. Is that Freudian? I thought you never read books with "wives" in the title...LOL!

    1. Thanks for your comment and for catching that mistake, which I will fix immediately! I knew Euphoria was a favorite of yours; recall I used it for my own club after you recommended it to me. Sorry to hear Writers and Lovers didn't click with you as much as it did with me. And you are so right about that "Wives" slip - must have been Freudian. Ha!