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Book Club archive

Here's a list of previous books read by the Quiet Place Book Club

March 2018 - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Americanah

Beyoncé loves her, so does Dior: but what makes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so powerful a contemporary writer? Might it be her displays of incisive cultural critique, of black and African feminism? Of race relations and identity politics in the US and Britain? Might it be her vibrant prose or fascinating characters? For our first book club book, we turn our gaze to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah from 2014: a fascinating example of the contemporary global novel.

April 2018 - Fuchsia Dunlop - Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China

Our book for April is Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: a sweet-sour memoir of eating in China, by Fuchsia Dunlop, a well-known English cook and critically-acclaimed cookery book writer, specialising in Chinese cuisine.

After more than 15 years travelling to and living in China, Dunlop not only brings us to the very heart of Chinese food and food ways, but also to a greater understanding of Chinese people’s relationship to food. 

Much more than a collection of food stories and recipes, this book - Dunlop’s culinary autobiography - is an insightful and entertaining journey, which ultimately addresses cultural acceptance and resistance of foreign food.

May 2018 - Neil Gaiman - Norse Mythology

Norse mythology – the myths and legends of the Vikings, in the Old Norse language – is one of world’s great mythologies. And Neil Gaiman is a best-selling, genre-defying author whose work has long been inspired by myths and folktales, not least in his breakthrough Sandman series and his landmark novel American Gods. Our book choice for May, therefore, gives us an opportunity both to sample and enjoy one of the world’s great mythologies, and also to think about how myths are being re-discovered and re-used in modern culture.

June 2018 - Eleanor Catton - The Rehearsal

This month at The Quiet Place Book Club we are reading The Rehearsal by New Zealand author, Eleanor Catton. Against the backdrop of a scandalous relationship between a high school student and her music teacher, The Rehearsal explores the fine lines between truth and performance, desire and exploitation. Innovative and dazzling, The Rehearsal shares the stylistic flair and penetrating insight that led Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, to win the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

July 2018 - Helen Dunmore - Ingo

Your book for July is Helen Dunmore’s Ingo, the first in her Ingo Chronicles novels for young adult readers.

Set in Cornwall, Dunmore invokes the hypnotic power of the sea to take her readers on a journey from the land to the depths of the ocean where Merfolk dwell and the world of Ingo awaits. These creatures of the deep are beautiful and free, but also frightening and unpredictable. 

The novel explores the childhood fears of death, the complexities of family relationships, and the differences between right and wrong. Drawing on folklore and oral history, Dunmore puts our imaginative assumptions about mermaids to the test.

August 2018 - Jean-Paul Didierlaurent - The Reader on the 6.27

Our book for August is Jean-Paul Didierlaurent’s The Reader on the 6.27, a bestselling French novel translated into 26 languages around the world.

The Reader tells the tale of a young man who travels on the 6.27am train every day to a job at a book pulping factory – a job he despises.

On the train he reads aloud the words from scraps of paper chewed-up and spat-out from the ‘The Thing’ – the monstrous name given to the machine that destroys unwanted books.  A chance find of a young woman’s diary, however, starts him off on an unexpected path to new beginnings.

September 2018 - Becky Chambers - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Our book for September is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, a self-published science fiction novel that was later picked up by a mainstream publisher.  The Wayfarer ship carries a diverse crew of humans and aliens on a journey to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. Each traveller has their secrets, and the crew must learn to work together in order to survive the trip through space.

October 2018 - Kit Fan - As Slow as Possible

Our book for October is As Slow as Possible by Kit Fan.  The collection of poems is the Poetry Book Society’s choice for autumn and it has also been named in The Guardian’s biggest 50 books for autumn 2018.  A collection about change, creation, and mortality, Kit Fan draws inspiration from the slow life of trees, Chinese myths, and environmental change.

November 2018 - Daisy Johnson - Everything Under  

Our book for November is Everything Under by 2018 Man Booker Prize nominee Daisy Johnson.  The novel follows the life of lexicographer, Gretel, as she brings back lost memory and the challenges of revisiting the past.  A tale of myth and nightmares, it explores the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and the challenges of womanhood.

December 2018 - John Masefield - The Box of Delights

Our Christmas read is The Box of Delights by John Masefield.  The novel explores the adventures of orphan school boy, Kay Harker, as he fights to save Christmas against the dark powers of a sorcerer.  Read along with us as we learn about ancient wizards, folklore, and a box that can travel through time this Christmas.

January 2019 - Alix Christie - Gutenberg's Apprentice

Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie reimagines the history of one of humankind's greatest inventions - the printing press - and specifically the printing of the first Bible. Johann Gutenberg is a rather elusive historical figure and Christie attempts to put colour into his life by fictionalising this important moment in time. 

February 2019 - Fiona Mozley - Elmet

Our book for February is Elmet, the 2017 Man Booker prize shortlist entry from Fiona Mozley. Steeped in the literature and medieval history of the Yorkshire landscape, the novel takes in the twists and turns of Daniel and Cathy's lives in the woods and the unpredictability of their father - sometimes present, sometimes far away; sometimes at peace, and sometimes filled with rage.

March 2019 - Alia Trabucco Zerán - The Remainder

Our book for March is Alia Trabucco Zerán’s award-winning novel The Remainder. In a surreal city, three individuals – Iquela, Felipe, and Paloma – who were children of political dissidents during Augusto Pinochet’s regime, meet again as grown-ups as Paloma returns to Chile from Germany to bury her mother. Except, planes are cancelled and delayed because of the rain of ashes, and things take an unexpected turn.

April 2019 - Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey 

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a novel about reading, and in particular about reading the Gothic. It uses and makes fun of the tropes of Gothic fiction, playing with dynamics of fascination and fear. In the 1790s, when Austen was writing, Gothic literature was phenomenally popular, so as you read this month, think about how Austen is responding to the immense popularity of the genre, and what she has to say about the gendering of the Gothic.

May 2019 - Fiona Shaw - Outwalkers

Jacob escapes from the Academy orphanage, but the home he remembers is no longer recognisable. From a chip implanted at birth, he can be tracked anywhere he goes. Can he find his way out of England and fulfil the promises to his family? Enjoy our book for May, Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw.

June 2019 - Paul Muldoon - Moy Sand and Gravel

Our book for June is Moy Sand and Gravel, a poetry collection by Paul Muldoon.  In his ninth volume of poetry, Muldoon take us on a journey from County Armagh where he grew up, to suburban New Jersey, his home as an adult. 

July 2019 - Michael Morpurgo - Lucky Button

Our book for July is Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. A lonely boy struggles with school bullies and caring for his mother, until a mysterious encounter reveals what life was like in the eighteenth century. 

August 2019 - Annie Ernaux - The Years

Introducing our August pick, Annie Ernaux’s magnum opus The Years (translated by Alison L. Strayer). Ernaux’s “years” as a working-class woman in post-war France run parallel to her narration of “les années” of her country; fusing photographic cues with political ruminations and personal recollections. At once intimate and impersonal, The Years resides at the confluence of autofiction and collective autobiography, although Ernaux herself has resisted such labels, interested as she is in ‘the truth of experience’.

September 2019 - Max Porter - Grief is the Thing with Feathers

Grief is the Thing with FeathersMax Porter’s debut novella, is a hybrid fable / prose poem / ‘play for voices’ (and even the occasional comprehension question) that playfully explores the themes of bereavement, love and obsession. ‘Dad’ and the ‘Boys’ are visited by ‘Crow’ (part psychotherapist, part Mary Poppins) in the wake of their mother’s death: magic realism, darkness and much hilarity ensues.