Summer Reading at the Hearth

-written by Hearth Member, Marika McCoola

11952995_941831772525951_606799651869884576_nAmericanah, a book that explores race and culture, love, opportunity, class, and education- it’s a lot for one book to tackle. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie manages to explore these enormous concepts (and the tensions they result in) in a novel that is a character-driven. The result is a surprisingly readable novel that provides a multitude of opportunities to discuss issues without being strictly about them. It is a nuanced, relatable novel, and worthy of the hype it’s received- as is our August pick, Station 11.

Both Americanah and Station 11 were loved by book club readers. Structurally, they are similar, with chapters that bounce back and forth in time and follow different characters on their related journeys. Personally, my copies of both books are also linked, each one containing by a multitude of penciled comments and dog-eared pages, so much so that they tend to fall open to favorite passages.

The love for Emily St. John Mandel’s Station 11 was unanimous. More than one book club member sent quotes from the book to friends in an attempt to rope them into reading, too. And that’s the thing about this book, it defies any expectations you have about the post-apocalyptic setting. The language weaves a spell around you, the pacing is impeccable, and the structure is simply breath-taking.

As much as I wish to comment upon the book- to talk about population density and how it impacts specialization, about the role of religion in science-fiction, about weaving Shakespeare and Star Trek through a narrative while respecting them both as art forms- I also don’t. Because I want to let you wander into this narrative. I want to hear you talk about how it grabbed you, racing along so that, three days later, you’d already finished and handed it off to your friend. So I will leave you with two quotes that resonated with me. Hopefully they’re enough to hook you.

“Yes, it was beautiful. It was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It was gorgeous and claustrophobic. I loved it and I always wanted to escape.”

“They spend their whole lives waiting for their lives to begin” (87).

In the hopes of seeing more of you at our book club meetings, here’s the schedule for the next year. Next time you find yourself at a bookstore or library unsure of what to read next, considering snagging one of these books- we’d love to hear what you think!


  • September: The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke
  • October: An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook (local author)
  • November: (Dec 2) The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
  • December: Because of the holidays, we will not be reading a book this month. ¬†Instead we will publish a list of recommended books for gifts and host a book swap!


  • February: The Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • March: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  • April: In the Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • May: Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • June: He, She and It by Marge Piercy
  • July: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • August: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
  • September: 10:04 by Ben Lerner
  • October: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

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