Due to moving in July, and having LASIK surgery and my kitty Dax crossing the rainbow bridge in August, this is the first time I’ve read my IRL book club’s book and attended the discussion. I’m glad I was able to go.

We met in-person last Wednesday evening to discuss September’s book, THE GOOD SISTER by Sally Hepworth. There were eight of us who met together and we all read the book. Here are some highlights of our discussion:

  • A few of us guessed the twist early on. Two of them thought it ruined the suspense and thrill of the story and didn’t enjoy the story as much after that.
    • Even though I also guessed the twist early, it didn’t ruin the suspense or thrill for me. Instead of anticipating this, I anticipated how the resolution came about (if there is one) or how the characters will react to the big reveal and how it will affect what they do next.
  • The rest of the group really enjoyed the book, didn’t see the twist coming, and were surprised all around by what happened.
  • All of us thought the characters were well-developed and round, including the secondary characters.
  • All of us loved the one sister–her personality and character, especially her growth arc. View Spoiler »
  • A few of us didn’t like the last chapter. We thought it was overkill. One person even suggested that it felt like the ending to Hitchcock’s PSYCHO.

Before I went to book club, I hemmed and hawed about going. I worried about sharing some of my views. I didn’t want people to discount my thoughts on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) because of thinking I was being too sensitive. One person said she thought it didn’t perpetuate the stigma like I did, which is fine. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. And, after two others members who have first-hand experience working with mental illness and/or BPD validated my views, I think it helped with understanding where I was coming from more.

*steps on soapbox* I talked about this in my review, and I think it’s worth stating again. Hepworth diagnoses the one sister as narcissistic or possible BPD. Based on the character’s actions and thoughts, it’s clear, however, Hepworth didn’t really understand either mental illness or how they manifest in real life. She probably saw a list of criteria and decided they fit, or she read the criteria and wrote the character with her limited understanding. (This is why there’s a need for sensitivity readers and/or own voices authors.)

Even though Hepworth’s diagnosis isn’t definite (“possible”), it does perpetuate the stigma associated with BPD, an already very stigmatized disorder. People with BPD are often perceived as being violent. This comes from one of the possible diagnosis criteria of having, and maybe a hard time controlling, irrational anger. Some people present anger outward in the form of yelling, screaming, throwing things, etc. Others, like me, present anger inward by directing the emotion at ourselves. (I rarely present anger outward.) When people with BPD act on violent urges, it’s normally in the form of self-harm or suicidal ideation. Of course, some of the people who present anger outward may also be violent against others. BPD, though, usually isn’t the actual cause of that kind of violence. BPD’s often diagnosed with other disorders. The most common are mood, eating, and substance abuse disorders. The combined presentations of these disorders MAY create a perfect storm of having and acting on outward violent urges.

Having BPD simply means that our emotions are more extreme than the general population. The difference between BPD and Bipolar Disorder is the duration of the highs and lows. BPD’s are shorter (i.e., minutes, hours, possibly days) than Bipolar’s (i.e., days, weeks, possibly months). Regulating our emotions is much more difficult with the extremes, which is why we often come across as whiny, needy, petty, or having a thin skin. Learning very specific coping skills in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is crucial for our well-being. *steps off soapbox*

Needless to say, we had a very interesting discussion about mental illness, BPD, neurodivergence, and society’s role in how we perceive and treat those with mental illness. It was very affirming to receive validation instead of the “you’re too sensitive about this” reaction.

I wish I could report on everything we discussed. Due to the nature of a psychological thriller, however, I can’t report on all the details without spoiling you. Hopefully, I’ve done a good enough job to make this post interesting and still let you experience THE GOOD SISTER on your own if you want to read it.

Next month, we’re reading FEED by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire). I’ve been anticipating this book ever since someone nominated it as a possible book for book club. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but they’ve been generally positive.

Anyway, have you read THE GOOD SISTER? If so, what do you think about my book club’s discussion about it?

My IRL book club met on Wednesday evening to discuss June’s book. We met in-person and discussed THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig. There were six of us who met together and five of us read the book. Here are some highlights of our discussion:

  • Everyone who read the book liked the premise and message.
  • A couple of people thought the book was predictable, but it didn’t change what they thought about it.
  • One person thought it was preachy, but it wasn’t hit-you-over-the-head preachy.
  • All of us who read the book are still thinking about it. We all think it’s a book that will stay with us for a long time.
  • I was the only one who felt Matt Haig wrote it about and for me.
  • View Spoiler »
  • A couple people said they had to suspend belief while reading about Nora’s experiences because they don’t think she’d be able to just jump into a life as easily as she seemed to.
  • After our discussion, the person who didn’t read it said she wasn’t going to read it. She said it sounded too preachy, even though the person who said it was told her it wasn’t a bad preachy.

This was a really interesting book club. We had a lot of great discussion about regret, living life fully rather than passively, and making life enjoyable. I love books like THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY because whether you liked the book or not, its subject matter always encourages a lively exchange.

Next month, we’re all choosing a memoir to read. During our July meetup we’ll review each memoir. I hope this will be fun and garner a lot of discussion. Right now, I’m leaning toward reading:

  • AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes,
  • TASTE by Stanley Tucci,
  • BECOMING by Michelle Obama,
  • FAILURE IS AN OPTION by H. Jon Benjamin,
  • GIRLS CAN KISS NOW by Jill Gutowitz, or

Have you read any of these memoirs? Which one do you think I should read? Or, do you recommend I read another one instead?

Anyway, have you read THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY? If so, what do you think about my book club’s discussion about it?

My IRL book club met on Wednesday evening to discuss April’s book. We met in-person and it was fun to get out and see people. We discussed DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland. There were eight of us who met together and all of us read the book. Here are some highlights of our discussion:

  • One person disliked the book. A couple of people thought the book was enjoyable and they won’t read the second book. The rest of us really enjoyed the book and are interested in reading the sequel DEATHLESS DIVIDE.
  • One person already read the sequel and it disappointed her. She’s the same person who disliked DREAD NATION. (I’m not sure if she disliked DREAD NATION because of the sequel or if she was hoping reading the sequel would help her like DREAD NATION more.)
  • A few of us said we really enjoy books, movies, and tv shows with zombies. A couple of others said they were indifferent about them. The others said they hate zombies and they don’t think they’re plausible.
  • One person was really interested in the science of it all–what caused the dead to rise, would a vaccine really work, could zombies evolve, etc.
  • Most of us liked the setting and how Ireland used it as a platform to address racism, oppression, and inequality.
  • Some of us wondered how the rest of the world fared in the story since the book focuses on Civil War Era United States.
  • View Spoiler »
  • View Spoiler »
  • One person thought Ireland started the duology with the dead rising in Gettysburg because it allows her to write a prequel if she wants to.

We had a really interesting conversation about zombies. After we talked about whether we liked the idea of zombies or not, we talked our preferences in types of zombies, favorite reason they could exist, the plausibility of an actual zombie apocalypse, and who’d survive. It was a lot of fun.

I gave everyone the bookmark I made for our upcoming list of books that we start reading for June’s meeting. I think, other than our Christmas party, getting our yearly bookmarks is the highlight of everyone’s year.

Next month’s book is CARVE THE MARK by Veronica Roth. I’m looking forward to reading this one. I’ve heard mixed reviews and I’m not sure where I’ll fall in the mix of opinions. I really liked the Divergent trilogy, including the ending, which I know was very controversial.

Anyway, have you read DREAD NATION? If so, what do you think about my book club’s discussion about it?

When I first joined my book club back in September 2011, the group was meeting after a three-month hiatus. They didn’t meet during the summer because it was too hectic with family vacations (that changed in 2013, though). Because we didn’t meet in the summer, we don’t pick our new list of books at the end of the year.

Every February or March, each person submits books they want to read. We then vote on the selections and the 12 books with the most votes win. Our reading schedule is from June to May of each year. (We still have two books left from our current schedule.)

Here are the books we picked for this upcoming reading year:

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • A memoir of our choice
  • Lines of Courage by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
  • Feed by Mira Grant
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman
  • The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

I’m very happy with this list. I’m excited to read all of these books except THE MAID, but I think that’s because I don’t really know very much about it. I’m also excited to choose a memoir to read in July. I just have to figure out which one I want to read. Right now I’m leaning toward Stanley Tucci’s TASTE: MY LIFE THROUGH FOOD, but I’m not sure. Do you have any suggestions?

This year, we started our selection process in February and we had all our books voted for by our March meeting. I’m only just posting the list today because every year I make bookmarks for everyone so we can keep track of what we’re reading each month. Since I unveiled the bookmarks via text yesterday, I can share them online now too. I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Have you read any of the books on our list? Which ones do you recommend?

My IRL book club met yesterday evening to discuss March’s book. We finally met in-person and it was great to get out and see friends, especially since I’ve been cooped up with my illness for the past three weeks.

We discussed NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty. There were only five of us who met together and all of us read the book. Here are some highlights of our discussion:

  • Two of us, including myself, really liked the characters and marveled at how good of a puppet master Moriarty is.
  • Three people liked the book, but they got bored with the story. They felt like nothing happened and the book was too long. They also didn’t particularly like any of the characters.
  • I’m the only one who mentioned Moriarty’s deftness at dealing with hard topics like mental illness, suicide, suicidal ideation, and psychedelic therapy.
  • A couple of people compared this book to ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Frederik Backman. Most of us liked ANXIOUS PEOPLE more, though.
  • A couple of people listened to the audiobook.
  • View Spoiler »
  • One person was upset with Ben and Jessica’s fate. The rest of us were okay with it.
  • I’m the only one who plans to watch the Hulu series based on the book.
  • A couple of people thought this book wasn’t up to Moriarty’s usual standards.

We also found out which books made the cut from our vote for the next year starting in June. I’ll share those in a separate post (in the next two weeks or so).

Next month’s book is DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland. I’m really excited to read it. I love zombie stories and this will be my first historical fiction zombie story. It will also be my first experience reading about zombies. I’ve only ever experienced zombies on TV or in the movies.

Anyway, have you read NINE PERFECT STRANGERS? If so, what do you think about my book club’s discussion about it?