People who know me, know that I am slightly obsessed with Cloud Atlas. About a year or two ago, my personal book club read the book and ever since, we all find ourselves unable to stop talking about it. It is a multi-layered, gorgeously written epic. So when a member of Books on Tap asked if we could discuss the book, I was a little concerned.
Generally, I try to avoid my all-time favorite books when leading professional discussions. Why? Well, I'm SUPER biased. When you adore a book, it can be very difficult to remove yourself emotionally when, for example, someone hates the way the book is written. Also, Cloud Atlas is a challenge. Personally, I gave up on the book twice before finally getting into the book and then, obsessively so. But I figured, why not? Never know unless you try, right?
Well, let's just say that the members of Books on Tap continue to blow my mind every time we meet. Yet again, I found myself leading one of the best discussions of my career as a librarian. And by the end, I felt a little silly that I ever doubted them or really, this book. It was awesome.
When I asked people to use a word or phrase to describe the book, here is what people mentioned: connected, interactive, moving, ambitious, multi-layered, and six books for the price of one. One person called it the "Readers Digest of literary fiction," which I just love.
I was completely intrigued to find out that most people found the Adam Ewing chapter to be their favorite section, and some even mentioned that they enjoyed the fact this isn't a book you can read mindlessly. We talked a lot about the "Russian doll" or nested story-telling. And one of my favorite moments was when a patron asked if people think Luisa Rey herself might be a work of fiction within the fiction of the tale.
Mind = blown.
Previously, I'm not sure I would have suggested this to other librarians who lead book discussions as a good option. But now, I say go for it. Just make sure to give your members enough time to finish the novel. Most of the Books on Tap folks said they used the full two months to read.
Please feel free to use my discussion questions, mostly written by me but some pulled from the publisher provided set. You can access them, here.
And long live Cloud Atlas.