Since starting this blog, I’ve shared hundreds of books with you. Books have been the second topic on this site as long as I can remember, and sharing books with you has been one of my great pleasures.
And it goes both ways — you guys have introduced me to some truly wonderful reads as well.
And it made me think — wouldn’t it be great if we could all read a book together as a community? Share a story, talk about it endlessly with each other, and send some love to authors?
Hell yes. It’s time for a book club!
The Books We’ll Read
I would love for us to focus on books written by diverse women in interesting places around the world. That can take any form — fictional romances, journalistic nonfiction, riveting memoirs.
This is not strictly a “books about travel” list. What I’m more interested in is books about place. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Nigeria. John Berendt’s Savannah. Laia Jufresa’s Mexico City. Janet Skeslien Charles’s Odessa. I want books that bring the atmosphere to life.
I’d especially like to frequently feature women authors from marginalized communities — women of color, queer women, and women from countries whose authors are overlooked in the Western media.
And one important thing — NOTHING dystopic, at least not while we’re in this mess. We’ve got enough of that in real life. Let’s read something different.
Our First Read: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
If I Had Your Face is a debut novel by Frances Cha that came out this week. This novel takes place in Seoul, South Korea, and tells the stories of four women whose lives are intertwined.
Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a “room salon,” an exclusive bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client may come to threaten her livelihood.
Her roomate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea’s biggest companies.
Down the hall in their apartment building lives Ara, a hair stylist for whom two preoccupations sustain her: obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that is commonplace.
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy.
Together, their stories tell a gripping tale that’s seemingly unfamiliar, yet unmistakably universal in the way that their tentative friendships may have to be their saving grace.
Frances Cha was raised in South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States. She has worked for CNN and Samsung and has taught at several universities in New York and Seoul. She lives in Brooklyn and spends her summers in South Korea. This is her first novel.
Here’s how you can get a copy
- Buy a copy from Bookshop.org, supporting local independent bookshops
- Buy a digital copy from Kobo
- Borrow a copy from your local library
Note: I’m no longer driving sales to Amazon. While Amazon controls a most of the ebook market, you can learn how to convert Kobo books to read on your Kindle here.
Our First Book Club: Sunday, May 24 at 1:00 PM ET
Our first book club will take place on Sunday, May 24, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. This time will accommodate people from Hawaii to Europe on a non-work day!
How much does it cost?
It’s free for all members of the Adventurous Kate Patreon. This is a new benefit that I’m rolling into their monthly memberships, along with the exclusive stories I share on that platform.
Otherwise, it’s donation-based to keep it affordable for everyone! I suggest a $5 donation.
Unlike the Travelers’ Night In chats I run, which I keep intentionally small, this meeting is open to all.
How do I sign up?
To sign up for the book club, sign up for the mailing list below. You will be emailed whenever there is a new book or meeting. This is different from my regular weekly email list, which you can find here.
Book Club Mailing List
To sign up for the first meeting on May 24, get a ticket here on EventBrite. Closer to the event, I’ll send an email to everyone with discussion questions and information on how to join the Zoom event.
Hope to see you there!