Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
I’ve ventured outside a couple times so far this year to see a friend, but I’ve mostly been self-sequestering since the new year as I try to become reorganized (which includes more built-in reading time, of course). During this time, I’ve also adopted some TV habits that are somewhat unusual for me. For one, I’ve started watching more movies. I normally prefer shows’ 30 minute to one hour lengths, but now appreciate the two hour finality of a movie. On my short list, I have Everything Everywhere All At Once, Avatar 2, and Inu-Oh.
Movies aren’t the only way my viewing has changed — I’ve also started watching more post-apocalyptic things. I started watching The Walking Dead after hearing about it for a bajillion years, as well as The Last of Us, a new HBO series starring Pedro Pascal that’s based off a story-driven video game. First of all, after The Mandalorian and Game of Thrones, I’ll watch anything with Pedro, but also, The Last of Us is really good. Like, I’m hooked after the first episode. I’m not sure why I’ve been gravitating to these type of things lately — I guess after having acclimated to this new pandemic world, I’m no longer averse to plagues in books? One thing I’ve found is that I appreciate how relationship-based they are, and they’re an interesting way to think about how the world would look if those catastrophic things were to really happen.
So today, I’ve got some books that ask some interesting questions about the dissolution of society as we know it.
Now for the club!
Nibbles and Sips
Pistachio Cake by Marcia on Allrecipes
I don’t know what took me so long to include pistachio cake, but here we are. Both of my parents love pistachios, so I guess it’s in my DNA — it’s just a flavor/ingredient I love in any and all my sweet things. This recipe is for a bundt cake that I think will go well with any variety of book club coffees and teas. Enjoy!
Now for some books!
Severance by Ling Ma
When the apocalypse hits in 2011, Candace is a millennial living in Manhattan and working as a production assistant for a company that makes specialty Bibles. The zombies in Severance, made by what’s called “Shen Fever,” aren’t the usual kind, though. Instead of mindlessly chasing humans, they’re mindlessly completing simple tasks that were part of their daily lives pre-infection until their bodies give out — retail workers keep folding clothing, for instance. The world halts, Candace flees and eventually finds a group of survivors who are looking to start a new civilization elsewhere, but she’s got a secret she has to keep from the leader of the group.
The critique of late-stage capitalism, the new, quirky take on zombies, even the pink cover all make this feel super duper representative of millennials. Plus, I like the phrase “coming-of-adulthood” that’s part of the official book blurb.
City of Orange by David Yoon
A man wakes up in 2010 knowing that a tragedy has befallen the world, but can’t remember his own name. As he tries to survive the new landscape, he meets a young boy named Clay who looks well taken care of. Clay is mysterious and hesitant to answer the man’s questions, but through him, we learn of the main character’s past life, and even sometimes wonder if the world is really as over as the protagonist thinks it is.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
This takes place over three days in a post-apocalyptic world that has been rocked by what is basically a zombie plague. We follow Mark, who is a member of a civilian team of workers in lower Manhattan who are trying to clear the area of “malfunctioning stragglers.” These stragglers aren’t the same infected that have been cleared out by the army, but a seemingly less dangerous type that are in a catatonic state, unable to adjust to the new forlorn world. Of course, things don’t go quite according to plan.
How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Once an ancient, arctic virus is accidentally unleashed by researchers, the entire world changes. Suddenly, ways of life all over the world must be altered and humans’ ability to adapt is tested. But adapt we do, and in that adaptation, our capacity for empathy and creativity are held on to steadfastly — people fall in love in the midst of tragedy; animals develop skills that help us connect more meaningfully to them; and loved ones go on cosmic quests.
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- Erin and Dani’s Book Club (focused on Indigenous lit) is discussing A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt on January 28 at 1 pm EST. More info on their Instagram
I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new co-host Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.
Until next week,