Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Andromeda: September planning for October book clubs

The other night I pitched the idea to my book club: Could we read an Alaska book for our next meeting, in October? They didn't yet know, and perhaps some of our readers don't either, but October will usher in our very first Alaska Book Week, a time to celebrate books by Alaskans or about Alaska. (Deb and other volunteers will be sharing much more soon, but I wanted my own book club to get a quick heads-up.)

If you're like me, your own bookshelves sag under the weight of books dutifully and optimistically purchased but not yet read. I used to feel guilt about this, but now, I insist upon a more positive outlook. Books-- as critic Michael Dirda reminded us in a lecture last Sunday at Loussac library-- are first and foremost, a pleasure. Yes, we are changed by them. But even more, we are entertained and sustained by them. Having stacks and stacks of unread books is like having food in the larder for a long winter. We should be glad to have untapped bounty so close at hand.

On my own shelves, I have many not-yet-read books by Alaska authors. I suggested a few to my club. They made their own pitches in response. We settled upon a nonfiction classic that will soon be made into a movie: Firecracker Boys by Dan O'Neill. At least two women in our group had already read it, but they loved it so much they want to read it again. Many more of us had meant to read it.

Other favorites or TBRs that were named: Don Rearden's The Raven's Gift (a haunting tale fitting for Halloween month), Seth Kantner's Ordinary Wolves, Lynn Schooler's The Blue Bear or his newer memoir, Walking Home. My own additional recommendations would take pages and include the names of nearly every author who has guest-posted or been interviewed at this site.

But my list is less interesting than your list, so I'd like to ask: any other Alaska books that you'd recommend for a book club to read this October? (Yes, it's perfectly fine to name your own and provide a short summary.) Does your own book club plan to read an Alaska book? If you're not the clubby type, would you like to commit here to reading an Alaska book in mid-October? Share your thoughts, post this to Facebook, chat up Alaska Book Week by email, or support the effort in any other way that comes to mind.

3 comments:

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

And my own post-posting comment: a huge thanks to Lynn Lovegreen, who is doing so much for AK Book Week. (I'm just a sidelines reader/book lover, so I don't know the whole scoop on every volunteer helping, but I know there are busy helpers aplenty.)

Thomas Pease said...

Okay, so did anyone else notice how Andromeda, in that delightfully understated way of hers, failed to mention her book, The Spanish Bow, as a title to consider for AK Book Week? I haven't read it, but it's tops on my to-read list. Another Alaskan author recommendation is Fifty Degrees Below Zero by Charles Brower. This work documents Brower's life in and around Barrow at the turn of last century. It records Inupiaq culture, Alaskan history and the environment during a time that's all but gone. Brower's book is one of the best I've read on Alaska. And of course, Seth Kantner's Ordinary Wolves commands equally high praise.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Thank you, Thomas!