What we're about

Novel Lovers of Sonoma County, CA (originally Novel Lovers of Sebastopol) is a book discussion group where we talk in depth about contemporary literary fiction. Yes, we really discuss the book for two hours! We assume that you’ve read the book and are eager to talk about it. We’re friendly and welcoming – not stodgy at all -- but we do take our book discussions seriously!

We read contemporary novels, almost exclusively those that have received critical acclaim and/or won literary awards. We try to schedule a few books ahead so you can get the book and plan your time. To participate in this process, comment on our message board (https://www.meetup.com/Novel-Lovers-of-Sebastopol/messages/boards/), especially the current Book Recommendations thread.

Please RSVP “yes” when you know for sure that you’ll be there, and please change your RSVP if your plans change. Don’t RSVP “yes” if you mean “maybe,” and please don’t be a no-show. As a courtesy to the wait list, our host, and me, please change your RSVP if you can't attend, even at the last minute.

Each time I announce a book, the RSVP list fills quickly, and we often have large wait lists. Almost everyone does get in (people's plans change, emergencies and illnesses happen, etc.), so if you're on the wait list, read the book. If you get in, even as late as the day of the meeting, you'll be ready.

Bring a snack to share if it's convenient, and a couple of dollars towards the organizer dues.

We look forward to talking books with you!

Questions? Email Joan Price (joan@joanprice.com), organizer.

Upcoming events (5)

[ONLINE] The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Online event

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was published late March 2020, and already has received rave reviews in major media. The interlocking narratives follow a self-destructive brother; his sister, a bartender who becomes the live-in partner of a wealthy financier; the rich guy's Ponzi scheme; and the people connected to him as family, clients, and staff. This quick overview doesn't convey why the novel works so well, so I'll turn this over to the critics: * "[This] novel [is] so absorbing, so fully realized that it draws you out of your own constricted situation and expands your sense of possibilities... it's 'straight' literary fiction, gorgeous and haunting, about the porous boundaries between past and present, the rich and the poor, and the realms of the living and the dead... In dramatizing so ingeniously how precarious and changeable everything is, Mandel's novel is topical in a way she couldn't have foreseen when she was writing it."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR, https://www.npr.org/2020/03/30/818866108/staying-at-home-check-into-emily-st-john-mandels-haunting-glass-hotel * "Emily St. John Mandel’s storytelling stretches to see into as many windows as possible. Peer closely: characters move between windows, themes reflect and refract... These are...stories buoyed by serious concerns; ... Characters are linked in unexpected directions... It’s a joy to pull at the threads and follow their knots and loops... Don’t just say you’ll visit someday. Call ahead. Make a reservation. Check out the view from The Glass Hotel. Enjoy your stay.”—Marcie McCauley, Chicago Review of Books, https://chireviewofbooks.com/2020/03/25/a-prismatic-view-of-emily-st-john-mandels-novels/ * "How many second chances, how many reinventions, how many transformations are possible for any given person? What are the forces that keep us moving along our current path and not a different one? ... In The Glass Hotel, the forces that catapult characters from one possible life into another are the more usual ones: crime, tragedy, marriage. Sometimes we choose to plunge into a different world; sometimes a different world chooses us." —Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/emily-st-john-mandel-glass-hotel/605548/ Link to this meeting will be sent week of event. Note that we're meeting on Saturday, not the usual Sunday, because the short story group is meeting every Sunday. [NOTE FROM JOAN: I've scheduled two novels for June. Even when our shelter-in-place orders are lifted, let's continue to meet online until the outside world -- including sitting close together in other people's living rooms -- feels like a safe place again.]

[ONLINE] "Wrong Object" Short Story discussion

Online event

While we are sheltering in place, our short story group meets weekly on Sundays at 1 pm [NOTE TIME CHANGE] Pacific Time to discuss one story from Best American Short Stories 2019 each week. 6/7, we'll discuss "Wrong Object" from Best American Short Stories 2019. To join our meeting, first RSVP here. If you attended previous short story meetings, the same link will work for all future short story Zoom meetings. If you are new to our group, or if I change the meeting link, I'll email it to you. A few minutes before 1 on the meeting date, click or copy/paste the link with the embedded password. If you'd like to socialize with the wonderful folks in this group, feel free to arrive up to 15 minutes early. This is part of an ongoing short story study group. If you haven't attended our meetings, you're welcome to join our group if you'll commit to being a regular attendee, not an occasional drop-in. Be sure to RSVP to each meeting you want to attend. Check all your current RSVPs, please.

[ONLINE] "They Told Us Not to Say This" Short Story discussion

While we are sheltering in place, our short story group meets weekly on Sundays at 1 pm [NOTE TIME CHANGE] Pacific Time to discuss one story from Best American Short Stories 2019 each week. 6/14, we'll discuss "They Told Us Not to Say This" from Best American Short Stories 2019. To join our meeting, first RSVP here. If you attended previous short story meetings, the same link will work for all future short story Zoom meetings. If you are new to our group, or if I change the meeting link, I'll email it to you. A few minutes before 11 on the meeting date, click or copy/paste the link with the embedded password. If you'd like to socialize with the wonderful folks in this group, feel free to arrive up to 15 minutes early. This is part of an ongoing short story study group. If you haven't attended our meetings, you're welcome to join our group if you'll commit to being a regular attendee, not an occasional drop-in. Be sure to RSVP to each meeting you want to attend. Check all your current RSVPs, please.

[ONLINE] Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

Online event

Obe and several of our members have requested this book. Here's the publisher's description: "Go, Went, Gone is the masterful [2017] novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, 'one of the most significant German-language novelists of her generation' (The Millions). The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes. Exquisitely translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening." New Yorker: "Jenny Erpenbeck’s magnificent novel 'Go, Went, Gone' (New Directions, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky) is about 'the central moral question of our time,' and among its many virtues is that it is not only alive to the suffering of people who are very different from us but alive to the false consolations of telling 'moving' stories about people who are very different from us." (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/25/a-novelists-powerful-response-to-the-refugee-crisis) More reviews: * The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/23/go-went-gone-review-jenny-erpenbeck * NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/books/review/go-went-gone-jenny-erpenbeck.html Link to this meeting will be sent week of event. Note that we're meeting on Saturday, not the usual Sunday, because the short story group is meeting every Sunday. [NOTE FROM JOAN: Even when our shelter-in-place orders are lifted, let's continue to meet online until the outside world -- including sitting close together in other people's living rooms -- feels like a safe place again.]

Past events (147)

[ONLINE] "Our Day of Grace" Short Story discussion

Online event

Photos (19)