Book Club: Year One

Telegraph Avenue, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Farewell to Arms, Wolf Hall, Call for the Dead, Pride & Prejudice/Pride, Prejudice & Zombies, Wine and War, and Long Walk to Freedom

It has been quite the year for the Blue Ribbon International Book Club of Friends.

We wanted to keep in touch from Morocco and Seattle, Spain and New York, and maybe they wanted the excuse and permission to read something that wasn’t coming from a textbook or The Economist, so we made a book club.

I enjoyed all of the books, even the one no one else seemed to like and the one no one finished and the one even I didn’t like–yes, I enjoyed reading Hemingway. But my favorite book of our freshman year was The Handmaid’s Tale.

I somehow missed Atwood during my development into a young feminist, which I didn’t even realize until a good friend was referencing her and complaining that her mother must think she only reads Atwood, because those are the books she keeps gifting her.

I loved the dystopian setting, all the more so because we could seriously discuss the similarities we see in the world around us–maybe in slightly cynical, alarmist fashion. I loved the female narrator, written so believably because she was written by a woman. I didn’t love the ending, which I won’t spoil here, but that bit happened so quickly, it’s almost possible to forget it.

What I loved the most, I think, were the themes of reproductive justice and personal sovereignty in the story, and the conversations they inspired. These can be tricky issues, deeply personal and laden with opportunities for offense or misunderstanding. But I remember a lot of respect and sincerity, which of course reflects more on my fellow book club members than the book itself.

That’s my pick for favorite book of the book club year–those of you who’ve read any on our list, would you make a different choice? Head on over to my co-founder Bryan’s blog to see his pick.

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