by T. Mack
I work in an office. Sister Geek, Taylor, works in the office across the hall from mine. In another office on another hall works a friend of ours named Sierra (name changed for her protection). Some mornings, Sierra comes over toting her mason jar filled with warm coffee and almond milk to say, “Good morning!” and chat a while about life, love, the importance of a fashionable day planner, the current f*@%3d up political climate of these United States, and the pursuit of happiness in the field of conservation (in which we all work).
Last week, on one such morning, our talk turned to books, as it often does. In the course of our discussion, each of us received a recommendation (or two) for books to read. By the next day, we had all acquired the books that had been recommended to us, either by our own means or because the friend who recommended them had brought them to us from her personal collection. And just like that, we inadvertently created The Accidental & Impromptu Conservation & Collaboration Book Club (because ridiculously long book club names are all the rage these days). The recommended books for this round of reading are as follows…
Recommended for Sierra: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Taylor and I highly recommended Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen for Sierra to read. Those loyal to the site may remember this title from a vlog back in the Spring where all three Sister Geeks gave this title our highest recommendation and discussed in details (and spoilers) exactly what we all enjoyed so much about the book. In case you need a refresher, Garden Spells is a cozy little book about two sisters who also happen to come from a line of supernaturally gifted women. The sisters are reunited after 10 years of no contact. Both have changed in ways that are confusing to themselves as well as their sister. Somehow, they must figure out how to find common ground, build a relationship, and begin living the lives they are meant to have, not just the ones for which they’ve been settling. This book is witchty, warm, and cozy. It feels like Fall and hot apple cider (and pumpkin spice if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s funny, and dramatic, and tragic in its own way, and triumphant in another. By the next day, Sierra had read the first chapter and was already in love with this book. I feel confident she’ll be, like us, a true advocate for this book, proclaiming that everyone should read it who has not already.
Honorable Mention: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Sierra also mentioned that she wanted to try a book by Neil Gaiman (at some point she’s read Stardust but it was quite some time ago). Taylor and I both highly recommended she go with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This beautiful title is less than 200 pages. Even within that relatively short page count, Gaiman manages to tell a story that is mysterious, heartfelt, heartwrenching, uplifting, and magical. It is a story told forwards, but in reverse, that showcases the magic of childhood and the tragic, but necessary loss of that magic in adulthood. It’s Neil Gaiman, not necessarily at his best (as that could be argued regarding many of his titles) but certainly at some of his finest.
Recommended for Taylor: The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler
For Taylor, Sierra recommended the young adult novel, The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler. The book is about a group of friends, an exclusive clique who refer to themselves by the titular moniker. The narrator, Flannery, tells the story of their final year of high school, how they coped with the stresses of that time, threw parties, and got themselves wrapped up in murder. Throughout the entire thing, the reader is never quite certain that Flannery is a completely reliable narrator. And at the end of it all, nothing is what the reader imagined.
The title seems like a great choice for Taylor because despite being the sweetest among us, she is also the one of us who has a fully developed murder plan that she believes will allow her to completely get away with the crime. She is also the one who listens to podcasts about serial killers and in her opinion, the most fun she had in New Orleans was her time in the Museum of Death. She’s a twisted little thing, our Taylor. So this book seems like the perfect choice for her.
Recommended for T. Mack: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Taylor and Sierra both recommended a young adult novel for me titled, I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. This book is about a set of twins, Jude and Noah, who experience a life-changing event. Their story is told in two parts, one by each twin. Noah tells the story as it unfolded before the event. Jude tells the story of what came after. The narrative jumps back and forth between the voices of the siblings and time periods that those voices occupy. It should feel strange and dizzying, but it doesn’t. Jude and Noah are very different. And although they shared a womb and an upbringing, their experiences were not nearly the same. As a result, they each have a very distinct voice and tell their story in a completely unique way from the other. Noah, who is artistic, uses words in a very different way from his sister, Jude, who is much less abstract. Two stories unfold simultaneously, both careening toward separate climaxes that will bring them together and turn them into the single story of a family and the experience that reshaped it forever.
Stay tuned for my review of this title on Friday!
It was quite exciting to stand around in the office and suddenly have a kind of book club pop up out of general conversation and a shared passion for the written word. I’m pumped to have all the books read and be able to sit around and discuss them among ourselves.
I’m interested, though… What titles do you highly recommend when the conversation turns to books? Which favorites of yours do you typically never hesitate to discuss with others? What book would you recommend while standing around the office one morning sipping coffee or tea? What do you think The Accidental & Impromptu Conservation & Collaboration Book Club should read next? Let me know in the comments below!