Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
Before we get started, I want to let you know that we’ve put together a selection of our favorite books and bookish stuff for summer! Go check out Book Riot’s Amazon storefront to get in on all that goodness.
As for life on my end, I’m knee deep in books on mythology as part of my Read Harder podcast homework and just have so many feelings! I really want to start a book club dedicated to reading nothing but works of mythology for a year, if for no other reason than to have someone to scream at about women’s mistreatment since the dawn of time. Can we discuss how the heroes of these stories are all super terrible more often than not? And how strong, courageous women like Circe and Briseis get the rawest of deals?! Que desmadre!
While I let my rage cool, let’s talk Pride reads, white dude moratoriums, and a healthy dose of tea. To the club!!
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Question for the Club
This month’s club query is below. I’ll be compiling answers all month long!
And That’s the Tea! – Few things suit me better than curling up with a book and a perfect cup of tea. It’s no surprise then that this piece on tea and book pairings is extremely my sh*t.
Book Club Bonus: Have I suggested an afternoon tea version of book club yet? Because I’m a power tea drinker. Black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal tea, oolong tea: if it involves a dried leaf soaking in some hot water, I’m ‘bout that life.
I’m now going to make it a personal goal to host a book club tea and I think you should too! I’m going to pile on to the suggestions in the aforementioned post and give you a couple of my own:
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo + Milk Oolong: I find the floral, milky smoothness of this traditional Chinese tea irresistible. Served slightly sweetened and piping hot, it would perfectly mimic the lush, sumptuous heat of the book’s 1930s colonial Malaysia setting. Warning: this book will also make you huuuungry. You’ve been warned: have good snacks on hand.
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah Maclean (or any Regency romance) + Darjeeling: They don’t call Darjeeling the champagne of teas for nothin’, honey! The delicate muscatel flavor of this beautiful brew is just the most perfect delight. I drink mine with a dash of cream and two cubes of sugar (and yeah, a lot of y’all are cringing because you’re supposed to have Darjeeling plain but I DO WHAT I WANT). It feels like the perfect sweet treat to pair with a Sarah Maclean romance. A steamy cup for a steamy read!
Joy to the Book – Happy Pride, Riot family! And I do mean happy: this list of queer books to read during Pride are happy, joyful, and altogether fun.
Book Club Bonus: As my podcast buddy Tirzah points out, many LGBTQ+ books focus on hardship. This is true of books on most marginalized communities, a fact I’m not even knocking: it’s important to tell the stories that make us uncomfortable and force us to confront injustice. Equally important though are the stories of joy, romance, happiness, silliness, adventure – ones where the characters get to just live and/or be a general badass. So make your next book club pick a romance, YA fantasy, mystery, or funny piece of fiction that features featuring queer characters, disabled characters, characters of color, etc. Discuss how the characters’ identities inform the piece without centering solely on struggle.
Suggestions: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, The Pretty One by Keah Brown (out 8/6)
White Guys Gon’ Be Alright – One of our Rioters recently shared her decision to not read books by white men for at least one year. This had a lot of people on the internet rull deep in their feelings, many of which seemed to miss the entire point behind that choice.
Book Club Bonus: A lot of the arguments I saw in opposition to that piece hinged on the idea that we should all read whatever is “good” and not “discriminate” based on gender or race, and that not reading books by white men was racist and uselessly divisive. I don’t have the energy to commit to the full Powerpoint presentation that this response deserves, to break down why that thinking is insidious at its worst and misinformed at its best. I’ll just say this: if you aren’t actively going out of your way to support work by marginalized authors, you’re not helping.
I won’t tell you that I don’t read books by white men. When Dan Brown, Jasper Fforde, or Alan Bradley put a book into the world, I’m hitting that pre-order button but QUICK. But I do also consciously put my dollars behind work by marginalized voices, supporting writers against whom publishing is still highly biased. Keep this idea in mind when picking out your book club reads. Read what you like, absolutely! But check in and verify that you’re working in diverse reads. Trust me, the white guys aren’t going anywhere. There’s enough pie for everyone, they will be just fine if they share.
- LA Times: Book Club: Our first pick is ‘The Library Book’
- San Francisco Chronicle: Here’s how to keep a book club together for decades (it involves wine)
- Today Show: 13 Reese Witherspoon-approved books to read this summer
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at email@example.com 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.