One of the things I will miss while traveling in Europe is my book club. Granted, we mostly chat, eat delicious food, and drink wine, but I am also encouraged to read books that I might not choose myself. Most of the time, the books turn out to be really good.
Since I won’t have my book club gals to meet with once a month, I will start a little book club right here. Below, you will find four of my September book club recommendations. It’s not the same as getting together in person, but we can always use good book recommendations, right?
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I will start with some of my favorite reads from this summer. Then, I’d love your recommendations for books that take place in Tuscany or Italy-at-large in the comments section.
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie
“An exuberant, one-of-a-kind novel about love and family, war and nature, new money and old values by a brilliant New Yorker contributor.”
It’s funny, it’s quirky, it is about dysfunctional families that aren’t so bad. This story about an unlikely couple – Veblen and Paul—takes place around San Francisco and Humboldt County. One of the characters is a squirrel. But it’s not trite or kitschy.
The main character is named after the economist, Veblen, who coined the term “conspicuous consumption.” As I pack up the house I have lived in for 11 years I am realizing that I have become quite the consumer myself. Veblen, the character, not the economist, goes on an journey of finding herself among her weird family, an ambitious fiancé, and her squirrel friend.
Hard to describe, but fun to read. Buy now on Amazon.
MacGregor Tells the World by Elizabeth Mckenzie
“…a masterfully plotted debut novel–at once a mystery of identity, sly literary satire, and coming-of age story–capturing a young man’s impossible and heroic first love.”
Since I liked The Portable Veblen so much, I decided to read McKenzie’s earlier novel, MacGregor Tells the World. This novel is also funny and quirky, and takes place around San Francisco.
In it’s simplest form, it is about a 22-year-old orphan who falls in love for the first time. But, of course, it is so much more than that. MacGregor is trying to figure out how and why his mom died and what a literary icon has to do with all of that. The search for his mother’s story and falling in love, lead him to discover his own story. And it is only $1.99 on Kindle. Buy now on Amazon.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
“Brilliant, hilarious, endlessly inventive, and compulsively readable, Where’d You Go, Bernadette grabs you by the collar and never lets go. Semple is not only a masterful juggler, and an astute social critic, she is a magician!” –Jonathan Evison
One of my book club buddies highly recommended this (thanks, Kris!) and it did not disappoint. I love these funny, quirky books. They get to deeper issues while still keeping it pretty light.
The story takes place mostly in Seattle. I read it while laying in my tent in Washington, and I laughed out loud at her hilarious portrayal of the city. I still love Seattle, but her satire is on point.
Bernadette is an agoraphobic mother with a fascinating past. She is doing the best for her daughter, Bee, but things keep going hilariously wrong. The format of the book is a little different. It is Bee’s compilation of email messages, official documents, secret correspondence, and voice mail messages that help her form a story of who her mother was and is. It’s delightful. Buy now on Amazon.
The Girls by Emma Cline
“Spellbinding . . . A seductive and arresting coming-of-age story hinged on Charles Manson, told in sentences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry . . .”
I love cults! I wouldn’t want to be a member of one, but I find them fascinating. I can picture myself as a cult leader. Not the murdering, sexually-deviant kind, but the kind that takes all your money, makes you sing funny songs and wear weird clothes, all while living in tree houses.
But, I digress. This is the story of one girl and her foray into a Manson-like cult. I mean, it is Charles Manson, but he’s been given a different name and fictionalized. Their living conditions, the food they ate, their hygiene – yuck. My cult will be way better. Even more than the cult aspect, I appreciated how Cline described what it is like to be a girl and forge relationships with other girls. Buy now on Amazon.
Have you read any of these? Do you second my September book club recommendations or want to steer people away from any of these stories?
While we are traveling, I hope to read books that take place where we are staying. First stop – Tuscany. Other than Under the Tuscan Sun, what recommendations do you have? Or books that take place anywhere in Italy.
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