Welcome to our irreverent new blog post feature that shamelessly apes those quirky, articulate smart mouths over at Buzz Feed. We heart their sassy ways of writing about books.
6 Mysteries to start a WTF? discussion at book group
1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Mini-book report: On her fifth anniversary, Amy disappears from her boring suburban Missouri small town. Her husband, Nick, is publicly frantic and privately relieved until Amy’s diary turns up. What has his whip smart, ferociously manipulative, stunningly beautiful wife done and what has Nick done to drive her to it?
Talk about: The way Flynn manipulates the readers the way Amy and Nick manipulate each other. Are the characters justified in treating each other they way they do?
People will say: They hated the main characters. Smile sweetly and ask why that matters to readers.
See the movie?: AFTER the book group has read the book. Then after everyone has sung a chorus of “the book was better” steer them towards a conversation about the likeability level of the characters and what story points the film kept and left out.
2. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Mini-book report: Somewhere off the coast of Boston in 1954, two U.S. Marshals ferry to an island housing an institution for the criminally insane. They are investigating the disappearance of a patient. Once arrived the Marshals become sucked into investigating other unspeakable crimes and suspicious of each other’s motives.
Talk about: Truth–who is telling it, who needs it, does it redeem or destroy?
People will say: WTF is going on in this book? Smile when they say that.
Word games: The title is an Easter egg of an anagram. Have fun with that.
See the movie?: Yes. The film did a great job of capturing the creepiness and tension of the book. Not an easy feat when adapting books to film. Thank you, Mr. Scorsese. Then have everyone discuss crucial plot points/twists and how they worked on film. Talk about foreshadowing in both; was it easier to spot on film than print? Or vice versa?
3. The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
Mini-book report: In Depression Era Harveyville, Kansas an established quilting club reluctantly lets in a new member. Immediately they regret their decision when city born and bred Rita begins investigating the murder of a man that nobody is missing.
Talk about: The ending. You only need one question for the group: Who did it and when did you know?
People will say: “No fair!” Smile nicely and ask why fairness matters in a mystery.
Extra stitches: Bring in a couple of swatches of paisley and notice the similarities and differences in the patterns.
4. The Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous
Mini-book report: There’s a body in the elevator of the Piazza Vittorio. The police have a suspect but it looks like EVERYONE had a prejudicial motive.
Talk about: Tolerance. Ask whom readers suspected until they reached the end. Talk about the device of telling the story through first person interview accounts.
People will say: “I know someone just like this!”
See the movie?: If you can find it. The book was adapted in 2010 and filmed in Italy. Didn’t do big box office but received critical praise.
5. The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell
Mini-book report: Almost 30 years after a tragic explosion rocks a small Ozark town, a cranky old bat loosens the iron grip on her grudges and begins to tell her version of events to her grandson. This is not a sweet-old-granny-rocking-chair-book.
Talk about: The writing style. For a short book the pace is deliberate. Woodrell is telling his story in a careful manner and in specific voices.
People will say: The book was hard to get into. A little mental exercise is good for the soul. The pay off at the end is worth it.
Fact-finding mission: Bone up on the facts behind the unexplained explosion:
6. The Dinner by Herman Koch
Mini-book report: Two couples meet over an excruciatingly polite and emotionally toxic dinner to discuss the inhumane crime committed by their children.
Talk about: The way the author carefully reveals the crime and the characters’ reactions to it.
People will say: They hated every single character. See Book #1.
Wine pairing: Whiskey. This is a gut-wrenching book that will make readers look long and hard at morality and humanity.