12. April 2015 · 31 comments · Categories: Life, Reading · Tags:

random books

This year my book club decided to choose our books a different way than we have in the past. Each month a different member gets to pick the book with no arguments or vetoing. There are only two rules: it must be 400 or less pages and available at several different libraries in the area. The unspoken rules: nothing too dark, violent, sexy or sweary. The first three months of the year we read non-fiction and this month we’ll discuss Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

May is my month. And I am having a tough time deciding what we should read. I’ve decided on then quickly discarded about five titles now and am starting to panic. Our meeting isn’t until next week so I have a bit of time to make up my mind, but I’d really love some suggestions. Have you read anything lately that fits our criteria and would be great for a discussion group? Of course, you wouldn’t know about library availability but discounting that do you have any brilliant recommendations? I want to choose a novel and something somewhat shortish. Classic or contemporary. Male or female author. Literary or genre fiction. I just need ideas!

Thanks in advance!


  1. I was going to say Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog, a time-travel novel that has elements of Gaudy Night, but my hardcover is just over 400 pages. If there are enough copies in the library system, I’d recommend Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s Secret Daughter, or Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season. And there is the cosy series set in a library, the “Cat in the Stacks” mysteries, by Miranda James. The first is Murder Past Due.

    Your blog looks so great! I really need to spruce up my design.

    • Great suggestions, Lisa! To Say Nothing of the Dog particularly intrigues me (we have gone over 400 pages a couple of times).

      I need to stop fiddling with the design, but I’m glad you like it. I’ll keep it for a while, I think.

  2. “The Solitary Summer” by Elizabeth von Arnim. Around 200 pages, a pleasant yet thoughtful read worthy of kicking off anyone’s summer reading list. A meditation on life and nature with humorous and intelligent characters. This would make great book club discussion.

    • I read The Solitary Summer back in the fall and absolutely loved it! I think it would make for a great discussion so I will consider it – especially as it is free on Amazon. Thanks!

  3. I think “The Solitary Summer” is free on Amazon.

  4. diana McDougall

    The soul of kindness by Elizabeth Taylor…..one of those lovely deceptive pieces of writing..seems simple but so much below the surface

    • I love Elizabeth Taylor…if only her books were available at our local libraries. Some members are willing to purchase books, though, so she will go on the ‘possibles’ list. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. A book I had meant to read for years and finally recently did – and loved – was the short ‘A Month in the Country’ (J. L. Carr): topical with all the WW1 stuff going on too.

  6. Anything by Tove Jansson – are short stories allowed?

  7. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I just read The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, her tale on the myth of the Odyssey. It is VERY short (my ebook was about 150 pages) and I’m sure would spark some lively discussion, especially if there’s anyone who knows their classics in the group.

    I see some Jane Gardam on your shelf there…I would also recommend The Hollow Land, which might be a little hard to find in some libraries but just got republished by Europa. It’s a lovely collection of linked stories about two families in Cumbria. It’s been labeled a children’s book but it really can be read at any age.

    • I love these – I never would have thought of either of them. My library surprisingly carries lots of Europa editions so that might be possible. Thank you!

  8. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    Sorry, I meant “her take” not “her tale” (though it is that too).

  9. Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron popped into mind. It’s a newer publication with a vintage feel; the author admires Elizabeth Taylor’s writing. I bought it on a whim and absolutely loved it! The other author I was thinking about is Penelope Lively…her books tend to be slim, the reviews are positive, and libraries usually stock her work.

    God luck with the choosing process and I’m going to check back to see what others suggest…purely for selfish reasons.

    • Coral Glynn sounds fantastic – I might have to read that for myself.
      I think Penelope Lively would be wonderful and I wouldn’t have thought of her. Thanks so much!

  10. I’ll suggest the first book that comes to mind, which happens to be the one I just finished last night–Little Century by Anne Keesey. It tells the story of an 18 year old girl who moves to the Oregon frontier in 1900 to take up a homestead after her mother dies. I really enjoyed it and thought the writing was lovely. It reads like a classic (almost like it could be something by Willa Cather), but it just came out within the past couple of years so it should hopefully be available at the library.

  11. I’m reading Vanessa and Her Sister now and liking it quite a bit! It’s rather slow-moving, in case that’s not your reading club’s thing. Or you could always go with something by Emily St. John Mandel! Station Eleven is the big recent one, but I quite liked her earlier book The Singer’s Gun, and I hear good things about The Lola Quartet too. Or I cherished Nick Hornby’s newest book, Funny Girl. It’s long, but a quick read — most of it’s dialogue, so it zips right by despite a long page count.

    • Newer books are tough because it might be hard to get them from the library (checked out, lots of holds, etc) but I do think Vanessa and Her Sister would be wonderful. I loved Station Eleven and would love to discuss that one, too. Very good ideas – thank you!

  12. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro? It’s not my favourite book of the year, but it certainly got me thinking, I think it would be good for discussion. I’m fairly certain it’s shorter than 400 pages.

    • Alice, we discussed this one last year and I have to say it was a good discussion though most of us disliked the book. But, yes, it does get you thinking!

  13. How about Edith Wharton or Dorothy Whipple? I don’t know how available they might be at the library but Awesome Books usually can usually supply copies for £2.69 with free shipping.

    • Both fabulous authors! We have a couple of book club members who refuse to purchase books so choosing something not available in the library causes controversy. But Edith Wharton is readily available – Dorothy Whipple isn’t, unfortunately. I think The House of Mirth would be so interesting to discuss. Thank you!

  14. I suggest “The Scent of Water” or “The Rosemary Tree” by Elizabeth Goudge, or “Listening Valley”, or “The Young Clementina” by D.E. Stevenson : )

  15. My book club loved “Vanessa and Her Sister.” If you can provide them with information on the Bloomsbury Group, that will make the discussion even better. Have a great meeting!

  16. Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women? Jim The Boy by Tony Early is one I really enjoyed. Also, our book club read Silas Marner and it was well liked. Oh, and Death Comes For The Archbishop or A Lost Lady, both by Willa Cather. I try to push those on everyone I know! 😉

    • Kathy, I love both those Willa Cather novels, especially Death Comes for the Archbishop. I think I will definitely choose one of her novels at some point Your other suggestions are also great – I have so much to consider now!

  17. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. Shortish, literary, highly readable, dystopian. One of my favourite books this year!

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