#NYRBBookClub 2021 Titles
One of the things I look forward to every month of this year is our #NYRBBookClub discussion over at Litsy – founded by Scott @vivastory. It also justifies my ever-growing collection of NYRB titles, although I must confess to having a love-hate relationship with some of them. Each member of the book club is entitled to nominate three NYRB titles that all members will get to choose from.
At a glance, here are the books I have read and discussed with our vibrant reading community this year – with book club members who are as erudite as they are respectful, thoughtful as much as insightful.
(01) The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (Amazon | Book Depository)
(02) A Month In The Country by J. L. Carr (Amazon | Book Depository)
(03) The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington (Amazon | Book Depository)
(04) Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi (Amazon | Book Depository)
(05) During The Reign Of The Queen Of Persia by Joan Chase (Amazon | Book Depository)
(06) Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (Amazon | Book Depository)
(07) The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley (Amazon | Book Depository)
(08) Free Day by Ines Cagnati (Amazon | Book Depository)
(09) The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya translated by Jamey Gambrell (Amazon | Book Depository)
(10) The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns (Amazon | Book Depository)
(11) School For Love by Olivia Manning (Amazon | Book Depository)
(12) The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût and translated by Hans Koning (Amazon | Book Depository)
If I were to base it on my Goodreads stats, I only rated two out of the 12 titles here a 5-star rating:
I was taken by the subtlety in Tove Jansson’s writing in The True Deceiver. There was such remarkable restraint but also a quiet sense of foreboding that deep snow and the chill of winter bring – not to mention betrayal, well-meaning-intentions-turned-sour, and deep-seated righteousness that justifies all types of behaviour.
The Go-Between was a riveting, coming-of-age novel that highlights the intricacies of social class interactions in the UK (quite fascinating, really). There is also the palpable sense of entitlement and over-arching trauma that causes (in)voluntary memory loss, and the redemptive nature of convenient forgetting. While it has a pretty typical premise: rich girl/poor boy trope – the narrative managed to capture a distinct sense of place/time and full-bodied characterization that makes it unforgettable.
These five books received a 4-star rating:
Except for School Of Love, all the other four novels feature female protagonists: from hearing-impaired, irreverent elderly women in The Hearing Trumpet to ugly, unmarried girls who are unwanted even by their own parents in Skylark. There is also the impoverished immigrant outsider young girl in Free Day to a young woman ensnared by the patriarchy and literally forced to take flight from her oppressive state of being that had been so normalized leaving her no other option but float out of her own existence in the eerily disturbing The Vet’s Daughter.
While the other novels did not leave that much of an impression on me – and I slogged along like the dutiful book club member that I am – I would have to say that my understanding of the narratives was deepened by our discussions on Litsy. Rather than merely hear echoes of similar sentiments, I am led to a variety of ideas and thoughts I would not have even considered. The thoughtful discussion questions and contextual information provided about setting or the author provoked a rich and dynamic exchange of ideas that made me rethink some of my assumptions about author’s intent and characters’ motivations.
I am glad that we are continuing with the #NYRBBookClub on Litsy in 2022. I am sure it would give me an opportunity to discover previously-unknown-to-me authors and that the discussions will no doubt be as enriching and vibrant.
How about you? Any book groups that you enjoyed this year? Any favourite NYRB titles that we should consider discussing for our book club?
December 27, 2021 at 08:03AM Myra Garces-Bacsal