Announcing: A Likely Story
The Book Club for Escapist Fiction Fans
Friends, sometimes the Real World sucks, and right now is a Particularly Sucky time in U.S. and world history. I mean, seriously. I read the news. I see the stories. I do what I can, and then I feel helpless and tired when I can’t do more. This is something I need to work on; understanding there are Hard Things and then releasing the Hard Things so I can still Embrace Joy. Both/And, friends. I need to learn — probably a lesson I’ll be learning forever — that Light and Dark chase each other constantly across the sky and in our hearts, and we live much of our lives in the Dusk and the Dawn when we can’t separate them from each other.
But, I dunno… sometimes I just need a break, man. Like, I need a way to rest. And to live in spaces where Good triumphs over Evil. And where the journey may be long and fraught but Love wins in the end, you know? I need to remember that grace and gratitude rise like the phoenix from grime and grit and love will wend its way around and through and out of loss.
And I wish I could do those things by reading inspired and triumphant literature. The kind of books Oprah recommends! But, OMG, guys. OMG. As soon as I read that someone’s debut novel is “triumphant,” I’m all, “Nope. No. Uh uh. No way,” ’cause “triumphant” is totally code for dark and tragic and sad and thoughtful, and I know in my heart they are going to make me fall in love with a character and then KILL her, and I can’t. Cannot EVEN. I cannot live in a Real World where real things happen like people I love dying and live through it again in my books which are also Very, Very Real.
And I LOVE them.
I dive into their worlds, and I live there for a while instead of here. I lay down my concerns and pick up my fictional friends’. I help carry their burdens, and they help me carry mine, and it feels like a fair trade because we each carry the magical, miraculous power to help the other live her life — my fictional friend by easing my heart and soul and reminding me what it means to be flawed and fabulous and weak and still strong, and me by bringing her to life whenever I open her pages.
In case there are others out there like me who like to fall down the rabbit hole into wild, weird and wonderful worlds, I’m starting this book club. A Likely Story is for those of us who revel in escapist fiction and long for more stories built in brilliant worlds with strong and flawed heroes and heroines; Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Legends, Mythologies, and Tall Tales of every type.
At the beginning of each month, I’ll share that month’s book selection for those of you who’d like to join me. Books will be curated along with me by several friends who are as in love with these genres as I am, including two librarians and a bookstore manager who devour every magical YA book that exists. Our goals will be to find fantastical tales that:
- are well-written. There’s nothing worse than reading a series and wanting to take a red pen to it.
- have unique, detailed, well-crafted worlds that capture the imagination.
- are plot- and character-driven stories that make us want to read far, far later in the night than is reasonable for mothers who are supposed to be responsible for the children come morning.
- champion strong women and strong men working together. I cannot stand – cannot stand – books that make men the heroes at the expense of women or vice versa.
AND we’ve picked our book for September!
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.
Now, this is Ms. Wecker’s debut novel, and it’s probably even triumphant, but fortunately none of the reviews use that word so we don’t have to avoid it. Whew! Instead, reviews describe The Golem and the Jinni as enchanting, intriguing and highly original. SOLD!
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free
Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.
If you’d like to join the public Facebook group for A Likely Story Book Club, click here! (You can also always join me on Facebook here, where we often wave to each other in the dark.)
Sending love… and the hope for a little escape for us all,