Book Reviews Books for Adults

The Great Alone + a One Time Book Club

This post is sponsored by St Martins Press, the publisher of  Kristin Hannah’s newest page-turner, The Great Alone!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you know that when we lived in Texas, I belonged to the world’s best book club.

It’s been five years since we moved away and I still miss it desperately, especially every time I read something that makes me think, “I need a group of thoughtful, smart, funny women to discuss this with!”

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Here in Arizona, I belong to a book club with just those kinds of women and we do have really interesting engaging discussions, but it’s a book club dedicated to reading the Great Works of the Western World (which is a set list of books that were published in a 54 volume set back in the 50s).

Which means that new books never get added to the mix.

books by Kristin Hannah

We also meet twice a month, so starting ANOTHER book club just feels like too much for me, even though more and more frequently over the past year, I’ve felt an intense desire to belong to a book club like the one I did in Texas.

Then, a few weeks ago, I had a sudden realization.

I could do a One Time Book Club!

good book club books

I know first-hand how challenging it can be to commit to a book club long-term, whether it’s hosting and leading for years or just reading and attending.

But what if instead of organizing an entire club, you just hosted one time or periodically when a book really appealed to you?

Basically it’s like a hosting a book party (and I love anything with the word “party” in it).

Just one evening of great conversation and food (obviously) and you don’t have to commit to anything beyond that.

I also think that often in a book club people choose a book just to choose something, not necessarily because it’s a book that they really want to have a great discussion about.

Which makes a One Time Book Club make even more sense to me – you just do it whenever a book speaks to you.

I was thinking about all of this earlier this summer when I read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah over Memorial Day weekend and I desperately wanted someone to talk to about it.

The Great Alone book club

You already know I LOVED The Great Alone since I included it on my Summer Reading Guide, and it’d be the PERFECT book for this kind of book party.

The Great Alone is by Kristin Hannah, who you probably know from her massively popular WWII book a couple of years ago, The Nightingale.

The Great Alone came out in February and it was an instant best seller too.

The main character is Leni and her life has been fairly chaotic since her dad, Ernt, came home from Vietnam where he was a POW.

She vaguely remembers that happy father she had before he left, but the man that came back is wildly different. He’s quick to lose his temper and he can’t seem to hold down a job. Their little family of three keeps drifting from one location to another, with Cora, Leni’s mom, always staunchly optimistic that THIS time things will be different.

When Leni is thirteen, they decide to move to Alaska. Ernt is fed up with the government and certain that eventually all hell will break loose in America and he wants to be off the grid.

In 1974, Alaska seems like the best place to do that.

And at first Alaska seems like the solution they’ve been chasing.

The neighbors are friendly and generous, and the long beautiful summer days make up for how wildly unprepared the family is for the winter that’s coming.

But when that winter comes and the days grow shorter and shorter, they discover it’s not just about the cold, it’s also about the long dark days that most people can’t handle.

And if, like Leni’s father, you’re already fighting terrible internal demons? That darkness is likely to unleash a whole host of inner darkness.

It quickly becomes clear that if Leni is going to survive both Alaska and her family, it’s up to her to do so.

I loved The Great Alone so much and it’d be the PERFECT title for a one-time book club.

It’s easy to get ahold of a copy and there is so much to discuss in this book.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

All you need to do is choose a group of friends that would be interested (I think 8-12 people is just about the right size for a great discussion), give them about 2-4 weeks notice so they can read the book, and then choose an evening to get together and discuss.

I find that it works really well to have one person in charge of leading the discussion and in my Texas book club, the discussion leader usually brought a little background info about the author and the book to start us off. In my mom’s book club, the leader brings questions to pass out that everyone takes turns sharing to spark the discussion.

book club food

I think an expectation of how long the discussion is always goes a long way too (I think 60-90 minutes is usually great).

I also firmly believe that food makes for a great book club.

And if you’re the kind of person to make a themed dessert for your book club and you make a Baked Alaska?

Book Club

Please invite me over.

 

P.S. You can read an excerpt from The Great Alone here or watch this teaser trailer! 

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

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8 Comments

  • Reply Miranda July 2, 2018 at 10:29 am

    What a neat idea! I’m also curious about your book club that is reading the great works of the western world – how did THAT club start? I’m currently reading through the booklist included in The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and would love someone to discuss the books with but I’m not sure how to find other people who are willing to take on this task!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      A friend of mine has a life goal to read the whole list and she recruited a bunch of us to do it too. To be honest, it’s not my ideal, but it’s a great group of women and we have great discussions.

  • Reply ellen patton July 2, 2018 at 10:44 am

    I read this a few weeks ago and really liked it.

  • Reply Paige Flamm July 2, 2018 at 11:52 am

    I could see a non-commital person like myself really loving this idea!

  • Reply Priscilla July 2, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I really love this idea Janssen! I’m in a wonderful book club, so I don’t want to get involved with another one, but this is a great way to discuss books that I like and have friends over! I’ll let you know when I do one!

  • Reply Pamela July 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

    An interesting idea. Our book club doesn’t read the same book. Instead, we come together to share what we read each month and don’t feel the pressure to read someone else’s choices when there are so many books on our own “want-to-read” lists that we will probably never get to read. The down side of that is that unless someone else has also read the same book, we lack that sharing of thoughts of a common read. Your concept would be fun to do maybe once or twice a year.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 3, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      That’s such a fun idea too! One of my friends actually just told me that her group does that periodically and I think it’s brilliant!

  • Reply How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway - Everyday Reading September 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    […] The Great Alone (a fantastic novel about making a new life in a foreign land – Alaska, in this case).  […]

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