Church & Oak November Book Club: The Middlesteins



Why join a book club? Some people like to gossip and drink wine, but I can do that without reading a book first. Some people want to force themselves to read books, but I don’t think that really works. For me, the reason to join a book club is to make the reading experience even better. I think the best book club choices are books that benefit from group discussion — books that have complex themes, books that have a twist or change at the end that makes you reevaluate the whole story, books that have characters that you don’t know whether to love or hate. Those are the books that I want to have conversations about, and those are the books we try to choose for our new book club, Church & Oak.


This month’s pick, The Middlesteins, is definitely one of those books. The novel centers on one Midwestern family and what happens when the mother’s obsession with food finally drives her husband away. The fallout has the rest of the family members scrambling to figure out their places in the new family dynamic. The story makes us look at ourselves and our own families and consider how we work together and how those roles change as we grow up, or as things in our lives change. It’s an easy read because the language isn’t difficult and the story pulls you through, but the ideas and themes are a little more complicated, and I think they’ll benefit from a good book club conversation.


Come talk about this book with me and Amanda at the brand-new Church & Oak book group, a collaboration between our shop and Emmet O’Neal Library. We’ll meet Thursday, November 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the upper room at Church Street, and we’ll have free hot chocolate and mini Breakup Cookies for book club members. You can buy a paperback of The Middlesteins at the shop, check it out from Emmet O’Neal, or download a Church Street ebook here. See you in a couple of weeks!


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books, an independent bookstore in Birmingham, Alabama.



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