Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When one of those children announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives. Told through three distinct voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. If you will, please picture me singing those first dulcet notes of Adele’s Skyfall like a loser because this, indeed, is the end. After just shy of three years bringing you nibbles, sips, and tips for book club, this is my final edition of In the Club.
The good news is that I’m now Book Riot’s Managing Editor (wut wut!)! I’ll still be around doing all the Book Riot things, it’s just time to pass the club torch to someone new. So allow me to introduce our new Associate Editor Erica Ezeifedi! She’ll be taking over this newsletter as of next week. Give her a warm club welcome!
For my final newsletter, I’m hitting you with the club’s greatest hits: random club memories from the last three years that even I have looked back on and went, “how do you have friends?” Then I’ll drop a few club lessons before I bid you adieu.
To the club!!
Nibbles and Sips
Listen, I can’t write my final newsletter and not suggest a toast. Next time you gather for book club, grab some bubbly. Add a little juice for a brunchy mimosa (tangerine has been a recent fave for me), or maybe a little St. Germaine for that sweet, delicate floral flavor. Raise your glass to me—just kidding! Raise your glass to yourselves—to good company, good books, and for just making it through the last couple of years. As for me, I will indeed raise a glass to endings, new beginnings, and the wonderful unifying power of the written word. Salud!
A Look Back at Three Years In the Club
My Very First Newsletter
First things first — I’m not Jenn! My name is Vanessa and I will be taking over this here newsletter. I’ve been writing for Book Riot for just shy of a year and am super jazzed to be the new bouncer of this club. Get it? Because clubs have bouncers. No? I’m sorry, I’ll stop.From my very first newsletter back in August 2018
The First of Many Cheesy Song Remixes
This feels like the right time to confess that every time I type the words “in the club,” I most definitely start rapping my very own remix of what was once a college party anthem:
You can find me in the club… of books so there’s no snubs
Look buddy I got the blurbs if you’re into bookish plugs
I’m into reading ARCs from the big and the indie pubs…
What’s that? I’m a loser? Right. Let’s get back to bookish things.From my second newsletter in April 2018, after which I was shockingly not canned.
P is for Poison
… I really did ask myself, “Would it be weird if I suggested concocting poisons from A is for Arsenic as a book club activity?” I mean, it’s really just chemistry. Yay science! Since I’m really not trying to go down for a mass poisoning though, I do have an alternate suggestion.From June 2019’s “Please Don’t Get Me Arrested” newsletter
Has Anyone Checked on Andrew Keegan?
…Ah, the film that had all the girls thinking they could drop it low to Biggie’s “Hypnotize” just because Julia Stiles tried it. Shade aside, I love this movie and instantly start singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” when I think of it. I invite you to join me in spending a little time with Willy Shakespeare, then with Heath Ledger. Also, when’s the last time anyone checked on Andrew Keegan? Is he okay? Does he have snacks? Is he living comfortably off that Tiger Beat money?From April 2020, book + adaptation pairings
That Poor, Poor Family
…After a fire drill and a miscommunication result in a rescue gone viral, the two embark on a fakelationship with some very steamy sexy time scenes. In case you’ve forgotten, I learned this while audiobooking in my car as Dani went on about her throbbing clitoris right as I pulled up next to a family in a Subaru at a stoplight.From November 2020’s “pick a mood and I’ll give you a book to read” newsletter. I still think about that Subaru.
That Time I Called a Character Hottie McGuapo
… To prove that he’s a brujo, he performs the sacred coming-of-age ritual wherein brujx come into their powers; with the help of his BFF cousin, he uses his powers to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. Pero….. the ghost he summons isn’t his cousin. His name is Julian, he refuses to leave, and he’s what I’ve affectingly dubbed a Hottie McGuapo. The book is inspired by lots of different Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) rituals and is full of Spanish much to my heart’s delight. It’s a sweet, funny and romantic read with great conversation potential.From December 2020, Best Book Club Books of 2020
What the Club Life Taught Me
Finally, I leave you with lessons I’ve learned from writing this newsletter.
- Book clubs can be big and boisterous or a one-person affair. Whether you’re gathering with a large group or reading independently at a silent book club, it all counts.
- People want to be heard, or at least know that they could be. One of the most important aspects of book club is to make sure it isn’t just one or two people dominating the conversation. Everyone should feel like they can contribute, or like they could at any given time. Sometimes it takes a minute for some folks to speak up, but they should feel empowered to do so.
- Life Happens. So you can’t make this month’s meeting, or maybe the whole things gets postponed. Maybe it’s still on but you didn’t finish the book. It’s all fine! Book club should be a thing that adds to your life, not one detracts from it or gives you feelings of guilt. Jump in and out as you see fit, meet irregularly, go to the meeting for discussion even if you haven’t read the book.
- Book club is a great place to learn. We’re all on different paths on our journey to be our best selves, and while I certainly don’t think books alone are going to save the world, they can be a fruitful start. I’ve suggested a lot of uncomfortable topics in the last three years and I’ve received a ton of great feedback about the discussions these topics have encouraged. I hope you’ll always read for joy, but that you’ll also take the time to read to learn, grow, and challenge the status quo.
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 and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.