Mark the Day
Mind Games: A Gauge Story

It's a Wrap

Thanks so much for coming along on our Read With Us adventure! 

Read With Us

A week ago, we hosted the book discussion for our latest selection, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, on our blogs and then with a lively Zoom meet-up. The discussions were interesting and engaging, and I think it's safe to say . . . people had strong feelings about this book! (Which is truly the hallmark of a great book group selection in my estimation. Discussable books always make the best book group picks.)

Leave the World Behind

After reading the blog book discussion comments, and then being part of the Zoom discussion, I think it's safe to say that readers were in agreement with three things:

  1. The book was, indeed, creepy. The scenario as laid out in the book was just a little bit too believable. Or, maybe if not exactly believable . . . certainly imagine-able. While the details didn't always add up (we're looking at you, vacation house rental website . . . ), we could all picture just what it might be like to lose internet, cable, and cell connections . . . and how that would translate to the ways we get our news, communicate with our families, and navigate our days.
  2. The characters weren't particularly consistent . . . or even likeable. Most of us had a hard time relating to the parent-child dynamics going on in the book, especially given the bizarre and unexplained "weirdness" that was happening in the world. (Just sending your kids out to "play"? We thought not. . . )
  3. The writing was very good, which kept us all turning the pages of this compelling story. Even if the story didn't actually wrap up with a nice, tidy explanation (and a bow on top, thankyouverymuch).

And there, really, was the main complaint with this book for many Read With Us readers. It was frustrating . . . to be fed so many partial details and possible clues without ever finding out what happened. Really, author???? And that, apparently, was by design! I read and listened to several interviews with the author in preparation for our discussions, and he claims that even he didn't know what happened! In one interview he states that the book presents about 13 different questions, and it only answers 7 of them. (And we weren't sure that he even answered 7, actually.)

Some of us didn't mind the ambiguity, and just enjoyed the ride. But at least an equal number of us DID mind that ambiguity, and felt the book suffered for those loose ends. And we all decided that if you couldn't suspend your disbelief while reading (about certain facts like the "AirBnB hosting situation," for example), the book would probably not be as enjoyable for you. At least one of us actually changed her feelings about the book following our discussion -- declaring that while she had kinda liked the book coming into the Zoom, she had downgraded her assessment to "not so much" by the end of the call.

Yeah. It was that kind of book.

All in all, it was an interesting book which led to a very good discussion. (I told you it was going to be . . . chewy!) I thank you all for joining in to . . . Read With Us.

(And stay tuned. We'll be announcing our next book group selection soon.)

 

Comments

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Bonny

I've thought about it several times and I still stand by my lowered opinion of the book after our discussion! Once Vicki pointed out the AirBnB problems with Amanda not knowing that G.H. and Ruth were Black, I just couldn't get past that. The scene when they arrived at their own house and Amanda had to confront her racist response was a pivotal one for me, and to realize that it was all contrived was a big problem. But that's okay; I'm really glad to have had the chance for a good discussion. That's what a good book group is for! Thanks for a great wrap-up!

Vicki

The first book my in-person book club ever read was "House of Sand and Fog," and it, too, drew STRONG feelings -- most of them bad -- and forever became the benchmark against which all other books were judged. "It wasn't as bad as 'House of Sand and Fog'," for instance. :) I thought of that a few times during the Zoom talk! It was a great discussion!!

Sarah

I so enjoyed our discussion, and I really think this was the best book yet, at least in terms of sparking that discussion. Chewy is definitely a good term for it. Thank you all for leading a great discussion online and on Zoom!

Kat

The discussion... the best! Honestly, THE BEST!! Thank you so much for including me.

Margene

I'm sorry I missed the discussion as there was so much in the book worth talking about. The parenting "style" was so ridiculous. A very will child (obviously dying and he was left on his own!?). Amanda seemed not to care about anything but having sex (and wine)! It was a very strange story that tried to cover every societal ill. It didn't work. Thank you for bringing this books to our attention. It may have been ridiculous, but it was worth reading.

Pam

I didn't love the book, but I did enjoy talking about it. Also, it made me laugh out loud the next day, finding a favorite wine for $9/bottle in Fred Meyer (aka Kroger).

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