Thanks to everyone who voted on the first-ever Reading With Hippos Book Club selection. The tally was pretty evenly split, but one title rose above the rest and got a few more nods than the others. And the winner is....
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman!
I am so psyched to read this book, you guys! I think we're all going to love it. Here's why:
It's a short story collection. This is good for so many reasons. If you don't have a lot of free time in your life to read, you can read short stories one at a time and not worry about holding onto the thread of a whole novel. If one of the stories isn't floating your boat, you can skip it and move on to the next. And finally, it's a genre that people often shy away from for whatever reason, so if you're in the short story-averse camp, this is a great opportunity to try it out with a few fellow readers to support you.
It sounds fabulously interesting. It's a collection of fictionalized stories about real women who had a brush with fame but then faded from the limelight, hence the "almost famous" part of the title. As the jacket says, "The world wasn't always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman's stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve."
We'll have plenty to talk about. Lots of books are fun to read but don't provide much fodder for discussion. In an online book club, we need a book that will offer up plenty of talking points, and I think the various lives of the women in the stories will give us lots of good material.
This isn't just a book for women. It was pointed out to me that men might not be interested in the books I'd listed as options for the book club since they were mostly by and about women. I was certainly aware that I'd only included one book written by a male author, but I was 100% fine with that, as men don't need me to champion them when it comes to getting published or read. However, it hadn't entered my mind that male readers would automatically reject a book because it had the word "women" in the title or because its author was female. (I mean, really? Really?!) So let me be perfectly clear: gentlemen readers, please do not labor under the illusion that this book would be of no interest to you simply because its author and prominent characters come equipped with lady parts. It's been scientifically proven that writing skills do not originate in the sex organs.
Still not sold? You can read the first few pages for free without making a purchase (click the "Look Inside" button near the cover photo). Spoiler alert: the first story is about a set of adult conjoined twins. Good luck not getting hooked on that.
I'm so excited to read this book with you! Here's the plan: I'll split the 13 stories up so we can talk about a few at a time throughout the month of March. If you get behind and haven't read the stories by the day a post goes up, don't worry, as comments will remain open and you can chime in whenever your schedule allows.
Need a copy of the book? The book is fairly recent, just published in hardcover on January 6th of this year. When I last checked my local public library, there was a copy or two available and no hold list for this book. Depending on where you live, your availability may vary. Click here to check availability at your library. If you're planning to buy your own copy of the book, please consider supporting us by using these affiliate links: hardcover or Kindle version.
We're definitely going to make this an ongoing feature on RWH. If you had your heart set on one of the other books I proposed, don't despair! If I learned anything from the wildly different responses I got on that post, it was that there's plenty of interest in reading good books together to keep this party going. (I personally was pulling for Fingersmith, a book I'm just DYING to read, but I'll save it and maybe we can read it next, okay?)
So I'll see you in March for some rollicking discussions of Almost Famous Women! Let me know in the comments if you're on board!