In The Club

Peppermint Petty vs. High Road Hannah: In the Club

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Que pasa, gente del club! Things are a little gloomy and rainy here in San Diego, where I have once again been caught dancing in my chair at a cowork space because I just can’t seem to remember that people can, ya know, see me?! Every time it happens, I pull a Hugh Grant in Love Actually and immediately ask a question with as much nonchalance as I can muster to distract the person from the shoulder shimmy, waist twist, etc they just saw. I don’t think it’s working.

Anyway! Let’s talk nonfic recs, presidential homework, and Ramadan reading.

To the club!

Sponsored by Flatiron Books

A lifetime of secrets. A history untold. No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget, and tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.

Question for the Club

May’s club query is:

Don’t forget: I’ll be compiling answers all month long, so get your responses in by May 31st!

All About them Books, Bout them Books, No Fiction

Rioter Sophia LeFevre recently interviewed RuthAnn Deveney and Kate Olson, the ladies of the Nonfiction Women Book Club. They’ve made it their mission to get more book clubs into nonfic and to focus on stories written by women. Huzzah!

Book Club Bonus:

Remember last week when I said it seems like book clubs lean heavy on fiction? I love what Sophia and RuthAnn are doing here to get more women to read some true stories. As they say in the interview (as do I, aaaall the time): truth really is stranger than fiction! Sometimes it’s downright disturbing. Or delightful!

I decided to provide you all with some nonfic reads that would make solid book club picks, enlisting the help of Kim Ukura, one of the hosts of our For Real podcast. She and Alice Burton are our resident nonfic experts and also put together our True Story newsletter. If nonfic is your bag (old or new!), you’re going to want to get in on all of that!

Without further ado, here are Kim’s nonfic book club pics!

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – I actually did read this one with my book club, so I know it’s great. This memoir is about growing up as the daughter of off-the-grid survivalists in the rural Idaho mountains. Their distrust of government, schools, doctors, and their neighbors created an isolated, violent, and misogynistic home life that Westover escapes by getting an education. We had a long discussion about family, institutions, and our own responses to her story.

bad blood by john carreyrou cover imageBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou – Elizabeth Holmes was a darling of the tech world, and it seemed her company, Theranos, was poised to revolutionize the blood testing industry. Except her tech didn’t actually work and the whole thing turned into a massive, bananas-in-the-details fraud. I’ve recommended this book more times than I can count because it’s great, but I think the crime, cover up and ethical quandaries would make it an excellent book club discussion.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer who works to overturn death penalty cases in the south. In this memoir, he focuses on the path of one case to share his own story and explore the flaws of our criminal justice system. It’s an incredible read that I think would generate a good discussion at a book club.

Read Between the Party Lines

I came across this piece on NPR about an Iowa book club reading all the Democratic presidential candidate’s autobiographies in order to prepare for the 2020 caucuses. My first thought was, “Well how many are there?!” I was referring to the autobiographies, but I suppose the same could be asked about the number of candidates themselves. Ay.

Book Club Bonus: Let me keep it 100 with you: I do not have enough damn time to sit here and read autibios by all fifty-leven Democratic presidential hopefuls. Once we narrow them down though, I do think reading a few of them would make for good book club convo! You’d be doing some political homework and discussing the issues while also (hopefully) enjoying an entertaining read. Obviously a book written by a candidate is not going to provide a complete or unbiased account of that individual’s history, politics, or stance on all relevant issues. It’s still a good place to start in getting the story straight from the source.

Ramadan and Reading

Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar. While we’re already part of the way through it, now is still a great time to read work by Muslim authors. These 15 books by UK Muslim authors cover everything from feminist short story collections and essays to romance and historical fiction. Love a good memoir? Here’s a whole collection of memoirs by Muslim women. Need more? We’ve got it. Here are 30 books for 30 days of Ramadan.

Book Club Bonus: I help moderate social media for the Riot a few days a week and recently had the pleasure of blocking a few hateful folks for their comments on posts about Muslim authors. I said bye, bye, bye in the blink of a racist’s eye and kept it moving but you best believe my fingers hovered over the keys for a second, desperate to be Peppermint Petty instead of High Road Hannah. Just another reminder because it never stops being important: support the work of marginalized voices. Read it, share it, review it, and call out the BS when you see estupidos being stupid.

Suggestion Section

Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, get it on the Read Harder podcast, and watch me booktube every Friday too.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.