|“It’s All About the Book”
More thoughts on reading from Kathy Schultenover, Parnassus Book Clubs Manager:
Think of a show you’ve “binge-watched.” My husband and I, for example, have been a long time coming down from watching Friday Night Lights. We finished the five-season series in under two months. Of course, book-lovers that we are, we found ourselves discussing the classic elements of fiction in the show as we viewed: setting, characters, plot, tone, and theme. They worked together to propel us forward, compelling us to keep watching.
Those elements are also what make a great novel and a satisfying discussion. After all, isn’t that exactly what we look for in a book club selection? We all want a book that feels like “binge reading” — that is, a book we can’t put down, that pulls us back in and makes us want to ignore everything else and keep reading. Here are some I’ve felt that way about recently:
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This is a novel of secrets that leaves the reader constantly guessing as to which of its multiple narrators is telling the truth, and which is lying. Over the years, several women have ended up dead in the river near a small British town. People have assumed suicide as the cause, but two new deaths have cast doubt on this old assumption, and fear now grips the area. It’s different from The Girl on the Train, but it nonetheless provides the similar suspense that Paula Hawkins delivers so well.
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
See my staff pick above. Called “a psychological thriller of the highest order,” this novel tells the story of a woman hunting down the father who raised her, after he escapes from prison. Using the survival skills he taught her as a youngster, she tracks him through the wilds of the Upper Michigan Peninsula, all the while trying to understand the bizarre life he forced on her and her mother. Will Helena be able to exact her revenge? Suspense!
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
Is Rachel, the mysterious recent widow of Philip Ashley’s beloved cousin, out to destroy Philip or to woo him and his fortune? Did the beloved cousin die of an illness or was his death really by nefarious means involving Rachel? These questions drive this tale of passion, love, and mystery set on a Cornwall estate, in a splendidly written gothic romance just as compelling as DuMaurier’s Rebecca.
The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
The glitter and glitz of the 1950s Houston oil-and-money set provide the backdrop to this story of female friendship. Two girls from prominent families grow up inseparable, yet as they reach their teenage years the relationship changes in ways one friend does not foresee. A secret drives the narrative, and the period details are just right, really making you feel as if you’re there.
Give any of these “binge reads” a try, and I think you’ll be eager to discuss them with your book club!