Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
I went to see the movie Beast starring Idris Elba a couple days ago with a friend. I had totally forgotten it was coming out and hadn’t even watched a trailer, but was super down to see it (see: Idris Elba). Well, it was pretty good! It’s definitely more of a movie driven by anticipation and visuals rather than dialogue, so heads up if you’re thinking of seeing it yourself.
Then, in a turn of events no one saw coming, my friend and I went to a bar that also has axe throwing. I always knew I was great at throwing shade, but now I know I’m also pretty decent at throwing hatchets. Your girl is ready for whatever.
After all the lions and axe throwing, I figured we should discuss some rough and tumble kinda books, so let’s get to the club!
Nibbles and Sips
I’m not a fan of gin, but the bar had this really nice lavender gin cocktail that toned down the less desirable aspects of gin nicely for me. I found a similar recipe here. I would just say to leave out the egg white!
Now for some books!
All My Life I Had to Fight
Side note: these books have virtually nothing to do with The Color Purple movie where I got that line from, but it just seemed to fit, you know?
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Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Vern is on the run. She’s seven months pregnant and hiding out in the woods after having escaped from the religious compound where she grew up. The community she escaped from doesn’t want to let her go, though—even as she fights back against them using a kind of superhuman strength. To protect the twins she gave birth to after having escaped, she’ll have to contend with her past within the compound—the existence of which is directly tied to the history of violence in the U.S.—and a new future.
Book Club Bonus: Discuss how affective the story was at making what has been sacrificed in the name of certain ideals in this country truly felt.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
The Only Good Indians has a couple major things in common with the movie Beast. I won’t list them specifically in case you want to see the movie, though. Jones’ book follows four young Indigenous men who went hunting one fateful day. Their decision to shoot into an elk herd on elder land, violating Blackfeet boundaries, is one that later comes with a great reckoning. Jones works in illuminating social commentary and subverts horror tropes as he also tells of how the young men fight to stay alive.
Book Club Bonus: In what ways can the sentiment behind Blackfeet hunting mores be applied to global warming?
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
The Donner Party descends into chaos after it gets hit with misfortune after misfortune. A little boy dies mysteriously, food is running low, and people are fighting. Looking for sense amidst tragedy, talks of Tamsen Donner being a witch start to circulate. Whatever the reason, though, the fact remains that the group has to survive the journey through a mountainous area—with its intense temperatures on both ends of the spectrum—if its members are to live. But as people start disappearing, the question of “is there something in the mountains?” takes root.
Book Club Bonus: What did you think of Katsu’s weaving of historical details with her explanation of what happened with the infamous Donner Party?
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
When five office colleagues go into a mountain range as part of a corporate retreat meant to build teamwork, one goes missing. So far, this is the only Jane Harper novel I’ve read, and one of the things I liked about it was how the setting is its own character. The Giralang Ranges—a fictional mountain range that could represent a number of Australia’s national parks—grants a sense of claustrophobia and a constant, uneasy presence as detective Falk must determine if the missing woman was a victim of foul play, the elements, or another, unknown force.
Book Club Bonus: Discuss what you would do if you were placed in a similar situation where you had to survive in abject wilderness. Do you think how the characters behaved was realistic?
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 email@example.com 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 cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.
Until next week,