Home > Book Club, Personal Posts > Book Club 2020-2021 : The List

Book Club 2020-2021 : The List

It’s that time of year again! Our Book Club runs from August to July, and we have chosen our list for 2020-2021.

*Drum roll* Here’s our pick for our next reading year.


La Horde du Contrevent by Alain Damasio (2004) This one is not available in English. It’s a science-fiction book about a group of people who live in a strange world with violent winds. I can’t fathom what it talks about from the blurb. Let’s hope I’ll like it, it’s 736 pages long. Definitely something to read during the holidays.


West of Rome by John Fante. (1985) It includes the two novellas, My Dog Stupid and The Orgy. I love John Fante, I’ve read several of his books and enjoy his mad sense of humor.


Kabukicho by Dominique Sylvain (2016) On top of writing crime fiction novels, Dominique Sylvain is a translator from the Japanese into French. I’m looking forward to reading one of her polars with a Japanese setting.


Women of Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar (1980) The Algerian writer Assia Djebar wrote this collection of short stories to show women’s lives in Algiers, 20 years after the War of Independence.


War With the Newts by Karel Čapek (1936) Its French title is La guerre des salamandres. This is another science-fiction title and the French blurbs says it’s as good as 1984, but with the added bonus of a great sense of humor. I’m sold.


Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd (1995) The blurb says it’s about a young primate researcher who makes a shocking discovery about men and apes, set in Africa during a civil war. I think I’ve read his books The New Confessions but I’m not sure. Have you read it?


Berthe Morisot. Le secret de la femme en noir by Dominique Bona. (2002) It’s a biography of the impressionist painter Berthe Morisot. It’s not available in English but it has been translated into German. I think it’s going to be interesting to read about her life among the other impressionist painters. Bona has also written a biography of Romain Gary and I remember I liked her style.


Ravage by René Barjavel (1943. English title: Ashes, Ashes) Barjavel is the first writer of science-fiction I’ve ever read. All the readers I know have read La nuit des temps when they were teenagers. Most of us have cried rivers when we read it and this is a book I won’t reread because I want to keep my memories of it intact. Ravage is another type of story: we’re in 2052 in Paris and a huge electricity shortage brings chaos in the city.


Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (2004) Its French title is La tristesse des éléphants. I’ve never read Jodi Picoult and don’t know what to expect. Has anyone read it?


The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart (2010) Its French title is Le sillage de l’oubli. Set in Texas in 1895, a man loses his wife in childbirth. He raises his children in an austere way and concentrates on horses and bets he makes with neighbors.


Noah’s Ark (L’arche de Noé) by Khaled Khamissi. (2009) It’s is an Egyptian book and it’s not available in English. It’s the story of a young Egyptian who emigrates to New York.


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (2012) It’s published by Gallmeister under the French title Les douze tribus d’Hattie.

And that’s all, Folks! Three SF books, one biography, one collection of short stories and books from France, the USA, Egypt, Algeria, Czech Republic and UK.

What do you think about our selection?

  1. June 23, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Love the diversity, Emma, I have heard of a few of the authors, though know almost none of the titles. My reading group does two selections a year – in November for January to June, and in May, for July to November. December is our Party Month!

    Oh, and there are some great covers here.


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks, Sue. I’m curious about the books we chose. Some are out of my comfort zone but it’s a good way to try new things.

      Two selections a year, what a good idea!


      • June 29, 2020 at 12:34 am

        I like it doing it our way because it lets us catch newer things if we’d like to. Also choosing our books is exciting, I think, like Christmas … having that pleasure twice a year is lovely!


        • June 29, 2020 at 9:24 pm

          Two evenings spent choosing books. That’s tempting.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. June 23, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I agree with the previous comment: great diversity, and great covers too. I’ll be looking forward to discovering the books through your reviews.
    I read a book by Jodi Picoult once: not my usual fare but I liked what she had to say about the social issue at the heart of that book, which was how people with Down’s syndrome were perceived and handled in the 1960s, and how that could/should be changed. I’m intrigued by how different the French and UK titles are for this April pick of yours.


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:06 pm


      I wonder why the Picoult title is so different in French. They wanted to mirror Pancol’s squirrels or something?
      Guy, in the comments belows, says that he’s allergic to Picoult and that’s a warning bell for me because we usually have the same literary tastes…
      We’ll see.

      I’m a bit worried about La Horde du Contrevent since I’m not a great reader of SF. Have you heard of it?


      • June 24, 2020 at 9:33 am

        Nope. I’m not sure I’ve ever read science fiction. Certainly not 736 pages of it. Good luck! I suppose the main thing is to approach it with an open mind (like the Picoult, I suppose).


        • June 24, 2020 at 9:29 pm

          You’re worst than me with SF. Never read La Nuit des temps ?
          We’ll see how I get along with Damasio and Picoult.


  3. June 23, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Its a long time since I read Capek, but he’s the SF writer who ‘invented’ robots. I think I read The Absolute at Large but it’s not on my shelves which probably means Lou, my son, read it then left it wherever he finished it.


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      I didn’t know that about Capek and I’m looking forward to it.


  4. June 23, 2020 at 11:02 am

    I’ve read Leaving Time and really enjoyed it. I’m a big Picoult fan though, hope you enjoy it 🙂


  5. June 23, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Interesting list. The only one I’ve read is the Capek, which I absolutely loved. Happy reading!!


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks. There’s a good feedback on the Capek. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. June 23, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    I want to read that Capek too – have heard great things about it. A nice and diverse selection, hope you enjoy them all!


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm

      Do you want to read the Capek along with us in December? That would be lovely.

      I’d be interested in your take on the Dominique Sylvain, since you know Japan a lot better than me.


  7. June 23, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    I haven’t read of the selections but I’m allergic to Jodi Picoult.


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      You being allergic to Jodi Picoult is not a good sign for me since our literary tastes overlap a lot.
      That said, it’s published by Actes Sud in France and they usually pick good books. So we’ll see…


  8. June 23, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Interesting idea to pick the books so far ahead – don’t you ever get tempted by the new publications? I’ve read Brazzaville Beach – many years ago – and really enjoyed it at the time. Not sure if I would now though because my tastes have changed


    • June 23, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      I never read new publications because I always wait for the paperback editions of books. It’s cheaper and easier to handle. I’m not fond of the harback format. It’s heavy. and cumbersome.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. June 23, 2020 at 11:29 pm

    wow, what a fabulous selection!! I’m interested by at least 5 of them. If I had time,I would read the Damasio. But right now, I’m in so many readalongs! Enjoy!


    • June 24, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks. Which ones would you like to read if a fairy gave you more reading time?


  10. Vishy
    June 24, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Wonderful book selection, Emma! I want to read René Barjavel’s ‘La nuit des temps’ because I loved what you said. I also want to cry rivers 😊 I have a William Boyd book with me, but it is not this one. I haven’t read Jodi Picoult, but I have watched the film adaptation of her book ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and I loved it. I went and got a few of her books after that, but I haven’t read them yet. Happy reading, Emma! Will look forward to hearing your thoughts 😊


    • July 3, 2020 at 4:03 pm

      Sorry, sorry, sorry, Vishy, I missed your comment.

      Thanks for your message.
      I don’t understand why Barjavel isn’t translated into English.
      For the rest of the list, we’ll see. I’m looking forward to discovering these new books.


  11. August 4, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    is this a book club you attend in person or a virtually book club?


    • August 5, 2020 at 7:48 am


      We’re a group of girlfriends who meet once a month to discuss a book and chat.

      I publish our list and anyone can read books along with us and either review them on their blog or start a discussion in the comment below my billet.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. August 6, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Thought I had read everything from Piccoult but not heard of that one.well actually technically got spark of light signed copy on tbr shelf as I think it contains trigger topics so scared to read it.


  13. Dorothy Willis
    May 3, 2021 at 1:08 am

    Mostly, I listen to books. I am now listening to Anthony Doerr’s book, All the Light We Cannot See”. You probably have read it since it is about a town on the northwest coast of France during WWII. How do I find your review? As to Jodi PIcoult the only book I’ve read is My Sister’s Keeper”. I must not have enjoyed it as I’ve not read any since. However, I plan to listen to “Leaving Times”. Lastly, have you read “The Poison Thread” by Laura Purcell? It takes place in a town near London during the mid 1800’s and follows the lives of two young women of vastly different backgrounds. One is in prison for murder and the other is imprisoned by her gender.


    • May 4, 2021 at 9:22 pm

      Sorry but I haven’t read All the Light We Cannot See. Maybe I’m wrong but I tend to stay away from books written by foreigners and set in France. I haven’t read The Poison Thread either.
      I hope you’ll enjoy Leaving Time. I’ll have a look at My Sister’s Keeper.


  1. July 31, 2020 at 9:38 pm
  2. July 31, 2020 at 9:38 pm

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