Better Off Read is a book club collaboration between The Bookshop and The Porch, focusing on books that you'll definitely be better off having read.
It is 1945, and London is still reeling from years of war. Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister, Rachel, seemingly abandoned by their parents, have been left in the care of an enigmatic figure they call The Moth. They suspect he may be a criminal and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women with a shared history, all of whom seem determined now to protect and educate (in rather unusual ways) the siblings. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And how should Nathaniel and Rachel feel when their mother returns without their father after months of silence—explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand during that time, and it is this journey—through reality, recollection, and imagination—that is told in this magnificent novel.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
An NPR Best Book of the Year
“An elegiac thriller [with] the immediate allure of a dark fairy tale.”--The Washington Post
“[Ondaatje] casts a magical spell, as he takes you into his half-lit world of war and love, death and loss, and the dark waterways of the past.”--The New York Review of Books
“Wonderfully atmospheric, beautifully paced, subtle storytelling. . . . Tells the hidden, barely spoken, tale of war, especially as it impacts on children. Ondaatje skilfully moves back and forth through time, finally offering an extraordinary narrative twist that feels as earned as it is unexpected.”--2018 Man Booker Prize Jury citation
“A meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.”--Barack Obama (personal pick for recommended summer reading)
“Our book of the year—and maybe of Ondaatje’s career. . . . A terrifically tense spy thriller and a delicate coming-of-age tale.”--The Telegraph (London)
“A superb wartime mystery. . . . Ondaatje’s is an aesthetic of the fragment. His novels are constructed, with intricate beauty, from images and scenes that don’t so much flow together as cling together in vibrating, tensile fashion.”--The Boston Globe
“A masterpiece of shifting memory.”--Los Angeles Times
Better Off Read is a book club with an added twist: an optional writing exercise for interested participants to complete before the event. The writing prompt for Warlight is: Narrate a memory or describe a character from your teenage years that you understand differently now that you are an adult. This is just a suggestion, though. If the book inspires you to write about something else, go for it! Again, this part is completely optional, and those who wish may share what they’ve written at the end of the meeting.
When: Sunday, May 19, 2019, 5:30 to 6:30ish pm
Where: The Bookshop (1043 West Eastland Ave.)
How Much: $19 + tax. Each participant will receive one paperback copy of Warlight, available for pickup at the shop. Wine and treats will be served, and participants will also receive 10% off purchases at The Bookshop the day of the event.
All spots for this meeting have been claimed! Be sure you’re signed up for our newsletter since subscribers get first dibs.
Previous BETTER OFF READ Books
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz (March 24, 2019)
Improvement by Joan Silber (January 20, 2019)
Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (November 18, 2018)
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (September 16, 2018)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (July 22, 2018)
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (May 20, 2018)
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (March 18 & 25, 2018)
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (January 7 & 14, 2018)
Broken River by J. Robert Lennon (October 22, 2017)
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (August 6, 2017)
Stoner by John Williams (May 21, 2017)
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (March 19, 2017)
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton (January 22, 2017)
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (October 30, 2016)
Better Off Read is a collaboration between The Bookshop and The Porch, Nashville’s independent center for writing.