Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

2021 Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge: Read an Epistolary Novel

Do you enjoy reading letters, emails, texts, or other people’s diary entries?  Then epistolary novels are for you.  Plainly explained, an epistolary novel is a story told through correspondence.  Written in a series of epistles, meaning missives or journal entries, the reader gets an intimate view of the characters’ innermost thoughts and experiences as the story unfolds.  As a reader, you cannot help but connect with these characters and think of them as acquaintances by the novel’s end.

Are you new to epistolary novels and don’t know what to choose?  I recommend three of my all-time favorites: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Sleeping Giants, and Griffin and Sabine.  The former is a heart-warming, post-war story of friendship, love, and resilience. The middle is a science fiction-mystery-thriller featuring extraterrestrial robot warriors.  The latter is filled with exquisite illustrations, and you get to physically open some of the letters which are contained in envelopes between the pages.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a day in someone else’s shoes?  Give Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, the chronicles of a young Mexican-American teenage girl trying to survive her final year of high school, or Letters from Black America, a nonfiction narrative history of African Americans told through their own letters, a read-through.  Looking for a little LGBTQIA+ inspiration?  Try The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Empty Without You: the Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

Maybe you crave a good heartbreaking but empowering tale like Code Name Verity, the story of two friends caught in the snares of WWII espionage, or Speak, the recount of a teen’s high school struggles post-rape, or The Power, the speculative discussion between two authors on what might have happened when females became the physically dominant gender.

If humor is what you’d prefer, check out The Screwtape Letters, a satire on human foibles discussed through missives passed between a bureaucrat from Hell and his incompetent apprentice; or consider Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, a Bridget Jones’-style tell-all journal of a year in the life of a British teen.

Fancy something a little more scandalous?  Try the French epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  You might be familiar with the films it inspired: Dangerous Liaisons and Cruel Intentions.  Of course, there is also The Diary of Anaïs Nin.  Yes, THAT Anaïs Nin.

Whatever satisfies your prying inclinations, there is an epistolary novel calling your name, so don’t fight it.  Indulge and enjoy it guilt-free.  After all, it was written for you, reader.

For more titles, inspiration, and Bookish Bingo camaraderie, take a peek at the Mead’s Bookish Bingo Challenges group on Goodreads, and don’t forget to mark your 2021 Mead Bookish Bingo Challenges card!

Posted in Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Teen & Young Adult

Social Distancing with a Book Club

“Social Distancing” is an ubiquitous term these days with the spread of COVID-19, coronavirus, because it affects all of us. In simple terms, it means that we should avoid physical contact and close proximity to each other.

Book clubs are gatherings of readers sharing in discussion, and in the case of the Book to Art Club, sharing art supplies. Due to the spread of coronavirus many of us are cancelling in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. This is disappointing to do, but it helps protect you and your club members from getting sick, and that is extremely important. However, cancelling isn’t your only option. Clubs can meet virtually via video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams, just to name a few, or through a conference telephone call.

The Mead Library Romance on the Rocks book club met this week over Skype, and it worked well. It was new for many of us, so we struggled slightly with connecting to the group, versus everyone connecting individually with me because they connected through my Skype invitation, but that was easy to fix.

What you need to make this work is to create a group in Skype for your book club. Next, invite your members by email through the group to join. You can also add members to the group manually after they’ve created a Skype account. Then, all you and your participants need to do is click on the camera or phone icon at your designated meeting time. Skype allows participants to connect by video or phone, and covering your camera is always an option, for those who want to join the discussion but not be on camera.

The Moonlight & Murder book club will meet on Skype in April to discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the Book to Art Club will meet on Skype in April and May. These discussions are open to teens and adults.

The Book to Art Club discusses books while making hands-on projects, so to keep the making element, I have asked participants to work on a project at home during the discussion, and I hope to share pictures of the projects in our group Facebook album. April’s Book to Art Club read will be Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, which will inspire steampunk projects related to a girls’ dirigible finishing and assassin school, and May’s discussion will be Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, a Harry Potter-like fantasy featuring a curse, a talent competition, umbrella traveling, a giant cat and magical rooms. I’ve included links on the book titles to make it easy to join these discussions, and I hope you will. Digital book copies may be available through digital sources such as Overdrive/Libby and RB Digital.