Book Club Corner – May

book club

Welcome to our Book Club Corner, where each month we highlight books new to paperback we think would make perfect picks for your next book club discussion. If you’re looking to join a book club, we host a wide variety of free, bookseller-run book clubs right here at BookPeople. Join us! We love to talk books.


The Sympathizer by  Viet Thanh Nguyen

9780802124944One of the most acclaimed novels of 2015, The Sympathizer won four major literary prizes for fiction, including the Pulitzer, was nominated for many more, and was on more than twenty best of lists. The narrator, a Vietnamese army captain, is a man of divided loyalties, a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist sleeper agent in America after the end of the Vietnam War. A powerful story of love and friendship, and a gripping espionage novel, The Sympathizer examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

“Extraordinary . . . Surely a new classic of war fiction. . . . [Nguyen] has wrapped a cerebral thriller around a desperate expat story that confronts the existential dilemmas of our age. . . . Laced with insight on the ways nonwhite people are rendered invisible in the propaganda that passes for our pop culture. . . . I haven’t read anything since Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that illustrates so palpably how a patient tyrant, unmoored from all humane constraint, can reduce a man’s mind to liquid.”Washington Post

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is a cultural critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times and teaches English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Sympathizer was released in paperback on April 12th, and is available on our shelves now.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

9780553394399This novel was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and spent thirteen weeks on the NYT bestseller list. It’s a callback to to Tyler’s bestselling classics, a family saga and an American comedy. “It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . . .” This is how Abby Whitshank always describes the day she fell in love with Red in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate an indefinable kind of specialness, but like all families, their stories reveal only part of the picture: Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s parents, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to the grandchildren carrying the Whitshank legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn house that has always been their anchor.

“Tyler is easily the closest we have to an American Chekhov…[Her] books will outlive us all…Tyler has rarely been given credit as subversive, because her style is so simple, direct, and sincere. But the stories she tells often detonate their own structure, and resonate long after many more superficially dazzling novels have faded…No one has been doing it longer, and by now no one does it better.”Buffalo News

ANNE TYLER was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her twentieth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

A Spool of Blue Thread was released in paperback on April 26th, and is available on our shelves now.

The Incarnations by Susan Barker

9781501106798Who are you? you must be wondering. I am your soulmate, your old friend, and I have come back to this city of sixteen million in search of you.

So begins the first letter that falls into Wang’s lap as he flips down the visor in his taxi. The letters that follow are filled with the stories of Wang’s previous lives—from escaping a marriage to a spirit bride, to being a slave on the run from Genghis Khan, to living as a fisherman during the Opium Wars, and being a teenager on the Red Guard during the cultural revolution—bound to his mysterious “soulmate,” spanning one thousand years of betrayal and intrigue.

As the letters continue to appear seemingly out of thin air, Wang becomes convinced that someone is watching him—someone who claims to have known him for over a century. And with each letter, Wang feels the watcher growing closer and closer…

Seamlessly weaving Chinese folklore, history, literary classics, and the notion of reincarnation, this is a taut and gripping novel that reveals the cyclical nature of history as it hints that the past is never truly settled.

“Wildly ambitious . . . [Barker’s] dazzling use of language and natural storytelling gifts shine from every paragraph. As with David Mitchell, whose books can similarly hopscotch through times and places, each episode stands alone as a terrific tale in itself. You can become so immersed in one story that you have to almost physically drag yourself away to commit to the next. . . . Mesmerizing storytelling.”- Sarah Lyall, The New York Times

SUSAN BARKER is the author of Sayonara Bar and The Orientalist and the Ghost, both long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She grew up in East London with a Chinese-Malaysian mother and a British father, and studied creative writing at the University of Manchester. She spent several years living in Beijing while working on The Incarnations, and currently lives in the UK.

The Incarnations was released in paperback on May 3rd, and is on our shelves now!

Cosmic Hotel by Russ Franklin

9781593766412Sandeep Sanghavi, the mixed-race son of an Indian businesswoman and a famous American astronomer lives a nomadic albeit mundane life traveling the country with his mother’s hotel consulting firm. His life becomes more interesting when various lost objects suddenly begin to reappear. Then a stranger calls and claims responsibility for the returned objects in exchange for an introduction to Sandeep’s astronomer father, the rebellious and eccentric Van Ray, who has no phone, email or qualms about having abandoned his son twenty years ago.

Van Ray shows up broke with his pregnant ex-wife astronaut in tow, claiming to have discovered a big secret that will change their lives forever; a new discovery guaranteed to change him from “science famous” to “famous famous.”

With his family together for the first time in years, Sandeep must juggle his father’s scientific search, his mother’s failing business and the tension of having family all together for the first time in decades.

“Russ Franklin’s Cosmic Hotel is a smart, provocative novel of breathtaking originality that renders a veritable Unified Field Theory of family, the American Dream, and the wide, pulsing Cosmos. Franklin is a remarkable new literary voice.” —Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

RUSS FRANKLIN has degrees in math, physics, and literature, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University, as well as a Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University. His work has appeared in Oxford American, Alaska Quarterly Review, Greensboro Review and other publications. He currently teaches writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Cosmic Hotel comes out in paperback on May 10th, and is available for pre-order now!

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

9781476798189This debut novel was long-listed for both the National Book Award and the Man-Booker Prize, as well as hitting #18 on the hardcover New York Times Best Seller list.

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.

BIILL CLEGG is a literary agent in New York and the author of the bestselling memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days. He has written for the New York Times, Lapham’s Quarterly, New York magazine, The Guardian, and Harper’s Bazaar. The author will be doing a speaking and signing at Book People on May 18th.

Did You Ever Have a Family comes out in paperback on May 17th, and is available for pre-order now!


Friday, May 13 at 7PM

Award Winning Author
speaking & signing
Imagine Me Gone


Adam Haslett is the author of the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, and the novel Union Atlantic, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. His books have been translated into eighteen languages, and he has received the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, the PEN/Malamud Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations. He lives in New York City.



The French 75

aka: 75 Cocktail or, in French, Soixante Quinze

The French 75 is my most favorite cocktail, and I will drink it year round, though I do think of it as more of a spring drink. It’s quite simple to make and you can always customize with your favorite gin and bubbles.


2 oz Champagne
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Gin
2 Dashes Simple syrup


Combine gin, syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Top with your choice of bubbly (the dryer the better, I always say) and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon twist!

A word about simple syrup – it’s so easy, you can make it yourself! Just take equal parts sugar and water. Put them in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3 minutes, so all the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. You can keep it in the fridge for up to a month!

Finally, if gin isn’t your thing, try substituting vodka. This makes it a French 76!

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