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Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD―and now they’re filing for bankruptcy after struggling with debt. She tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart. Grappling with motherhood, economic anxiety, and anger, Want is a fiercely personal novel that explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to want things
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. I am feeling better this week than I have in awhile and I know a huge part of that is how much time I’ve spent in nature. This feels like a great time to discuss some books on our place in the natural world, so let me take a break from belting out “Natural Woman” to suggest some.
To the club!!
Nibbles and Sips
These words from Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef have stuck with me as a personal mantra: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” They remind me that real, sustainable change is a group effort and give me the permission to not feel guilty for my ecological shortcomings.
So this week instead of a recipe, I’m suggesting a practice: challenge yourself as a book club to find one thing each of you can do to make your lifestyles more eco-friendly. Maybe you finally pick up a good reusable water bottle or a tumbler for your coffee or tea. Swap some of your Ziploc bags for reusable pouches, use micro-fiber towels and old t-shirts in place of paper towels, or keep some stainless steel straws in your bag, maybe a utensil set too. My favorite thing is to reuse glass jam jars, sauce containers, etc. The amount of joy I get from recycling the jars that once housed blackberry preserves or Trader Joe’s Chili Onion Crunch has made me acutely aware that I am 35, and reminds me that I’m very much the granddaughter of women who keep sewing supplies in Danish cookie tins and salsa in margarine containers.
We Think We Own Whatever Land We Land On
I feel bad quoting “Colors of the Wind” when Pocahontas is all kinds of problematic, but we really do act like the earth is just a dead thing we can claim. These books all dive into our relationship with this planet and its precious resources; in your book club discussions, examine how we can do better and what keeps us from doing so—it’s not as straightforward as we might like to think.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – Scientist and professor Robin Wall Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potowatomi Nation, and this work of environmental science and indigenous wisdom is pretty much a classic in nature writing. She calls on us to play an active role in the protection and restoration of the natural world and in climate change initiatives, reminding us of the harmonious relationship indigenous communities shared with nature before some other humans (ehhem, rhymes with “schmolonizers”) came in and messed sh*t up for all eternity.
Eat Less Water by Florencia Ramirez – A thing I learned from Florencia Ramirez: pretty much everything most of us were taught as kids about water conservation is a lie. Reducing the length of your showers is cool, but shower time isn’t even a little bit close to being the top water consumption culprit. Know what is? Almonds! Beef! Wine and beer! Ramirez argues—with plenty of jaw-dropping statistics to back up her assertions—that the solution to some of our most daunting environmental problems can be found in the way we eat and drink. Sounds dire, but the good news is that change is possible. This is the book that got me to understand the importance of sustainability practices in agriculture.
The Overstory by Richard Powers – Here’s a work of fiction for you in case you’re more in the mood for a novel. “The whole book is a simple question: What would it take to make you give the unquestioning sacredness that you give to humanity to other things?” It’s the story of nine seemingly unconnected individual’s stories that decries the devastating effects we’ve had on our precious natural resources, begging us with a solid tug at the heartstrings to care, to act, to be passionate about trees and the natural world at large.
I have a few quibbles with this Men’s Health piece about a real-life Bromance Book Club, but I like the conversation this encouraged overall. The vulnerability its participants were willing to share and the continuance of the book club give me hope! I hope more men feel compelled to read romance who might not have before, and who will be willing to discuss and learn from them even when that examination is uncomfortable.
Catch up on Part II of Tor.com’s Terry Pratchett Book Club.
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.