Dear Book Club,
As Thanksgiving approaches, we feel grateful to have met you. It's hard to believe that a year ago this book club was just a pipe dream, and that the enthusiastic response led us to start Dotters Books. We literally would not exist without you--your support and participation this year has filled our hearts with joy, and our minds with good books and great conversations.
Part of what makes book club fun is reading books we might not choose for ourselves. But that's harder to do on your own, and there are so many options that it can sometimes be overwhelming to pick your next read. To make the process easier for you, we've put together a reading guide based on the books we read together this year.
But we have one favor to ask you: don't write off the recommendations for the books you did not like. Give them a chance. Keep an open mind. You never know where you might find your next favorite book.
Little Fires Everywhere follows two families as they intersect in Shaker Heights, Ohio -- a small-ish town where everything is well-planned. Mia Warren and her daughter are newcomers, and as they become entwined with the Richardson family, themes and conversations surrounding privilege, class, race, and family arise. Written from an omniscient perspective, readers get a satisfying glimpse into each character's life.
Like The Empathy Exams, Melissa Febos' book Abandon Me intertwines personal narrative with psychology and mythology to conquer larger questions about art, identity, love and loss. These are not essays, nor are they a memoir; Abandon Me is written as memoirs (plural), small vignettes circling around the same few events, trying to make sense of them.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is admittedly funnier than Fates and Furies, but it is an equally complicated portrait of a woman struggling to balance her family and her career, all filtered through the eyes of her fifteen-year old daughter, Bee.
With The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson blends genres to tell her own story of queer family-making. Audre Lorde calls Zami a biomythography, blending history, biography, and myth to explore female relationships of all kinds: mothers, lovers, friends.
The Lowland is an exquisitely written portrait of a family, epic in both scale and setting. Lahiri takes her readers from India to New England, through three generations, her characters always working to find their place between tradition and modernity.
During our book club discussion for Citizen, Ta-Nehisi Coates' book came up as a similar title. Everyone should read Between the World and Me. Everyone. As Toni Morrison says, “This is required reading.”
An Available Man deals with the topic of loss in a graceful, tender, and often humorous way. M Train is memoir, and the difference in genre matters here, as Smith does not often veer into the humorous. Her focus is on moving forward while also looking back, finding beauty in loss and temporality.
Gold Fame Citrus follows a couple as they become involved with a community that emerged in the desert of the American Southwest after what can only be described as a global warming nightmare: no water. Beautiful and terrifying.
A large scale book with lots of characters, Here I Am features a Jewish-American family, the Blochs. While this is a book mostly full of men, Safran Foer masterfully translates his main questions - what does it mean to be Jewish? to be an intellectual? to be a father? to be a husband? - into a text that resonates with a person who doesn’t fit neatly into one or any of those groups.
It might seem cheap to recommend one writer twice, but there's something incomparable about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's fiction. The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of short stories that precedes Americanah, and the stories circle around the same themes and situations that Adichie expands upon in her novel. This was the first of Adichie's books to shift focus from Nigeria onto the United States, providing an incisive look into cultural and societal collisions.