Bookbug book club

What's this?

Bookbug is a digital book club where members are encouraged to read and write reviews for a book each month. It's pretty neat.

You can learn more about it by clicking this button:

bookbug bookclub

Other club members

One of the things that really made this club appealing to me was its community aspect. Here are all of the members' bookbug pages- please check them out!

Member list as of 2024/03/28 (excluding yours truly)


These are... rather lenghty. I did write them after all...

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (March 2024)

March was not kind to my reading habits. For starters, this month's club pick was surprisingly hard to find in my city, and as such it took me over a week to start reading it. Then, a couple days later, I got the flu and therefore had no real energy to read a whole lot.

All that to say, I didn't finish this one either... whoops. However, unlike Giovanni's Room, I absolutely loved The Left Hand of Darkness. I never had much interest in science fiction, not out of distaste but rather out of ignorance- I just never really got the chance to explore the genre. This book was a bit hard to understand at first, but I was actually really happy that it introduced me to sci-fi!

With both science fiction and more traditional fantasy fiction, I'm always concerned about the author holding the reader's hand, detailing in a slow and boring fashion all these new terms one must learn to better understand the story. However, Le Guin details these new terms and concepts periodically rather than all at once, in a way that actually makes sense and feeds into the reader's curiosity. The book is divided into story chapters and exposition chapters, which alternate throughout the work. This makes it so the story keeps going, while also giving context about how Gethen operates and its history.

I found both kinds of chapters to be very engaging. I also really just found myself caring for the characters... Genly Ai and Estraven are definitely my favorites, which is great since they're the main characters. Now, forgive my fandom-ruined brain, but I kinda ship them too. I will refrain from spoiling the book for myself, but I will be hoping for something between these two to happen.

The book is not without flaws, of course. It can be quite the heavy read, there's a whole lot to memorize about this planet and its political structures, which might feel boring for those who aren't immediately gripped by the worldbuilding. With that said, I was immediately gripped by it, so...

As a final note, I deeply appreciate Le Guin's writing style. it's objective, yet not without charm... it helps that some passages are definitely filled with a certain irony that I found interesting. Even the introduction, written by Le Guin herself, struck me as very interesting and even humorous. Without a doubt, this is a book I'll definitely finish reading in the future.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (February 2024)

So, I didn't have it in me to finish this book... at least for now.

It's such a shame, too. James Baldwin had a very interesting way with words- the way each scene of the story blends into the next is almost dreamlike, helped by the author's choice of words. I really appreciate his writing style.

However, the downfall's in one single aspect of the book: the main character, David. It's not even that he's just unlikeable. He's just... sort of boring.

A deeply flawed main character is nothing new, nor is it a bad thing. However, you'd want said character to improve or change or at least do something that leads to an interesting consequence.

That doesn't really happen with David. From the very first chapter to 3/4 of the book (where I quit), David uses and/or hurts people over and over again, feels bad about it, but does nothing to change it. The only thing that happens is the list of people getting hurt keeps growing.

The worst part is that I find myself caring about everyone but David. Giovanni's similarly deeply flawed, but I was certainly charmed by him just like the main character. Hella and Sue barely appear in the story, they're much more like accessories than actual characters, but even then I felt bad for them because David was deceiving them. David's father, his childhood friend/crush Joey and even the background characters that only get mentioned once, they all feel more interesting and/or likeable.

The only other characters I didn't like were Jacques and Guillaume, but Baldwin went out of his way to make them unlikeable. It's weird, because the only difference between them and David is that they're older and richer. Yet, we're supposed to care about one and not the others?

With all that being said, it's important to note that the book has a fascinating setting, that being of the time during which the book was written: the 50s. It gives you an interesting perspective on how people thought back then (for example, all the men are terribly and quite openly sexist), and it's also quite the feat to have even had it published considering it is a gay romance written by a black man.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (January 2024)

It's hard to talk about this book in-depth without noting that the protagonist, Keiko Furukura, is very obviously autistic- really, the book is more about that than about the convenience store her world revolves around or any overarching plot.

The book is divided by short little episodes rather than «proper» chapters, making it easy to pick up and read a few of them at a time. These episodes are typically incredibly mundane, focusing on the relationships between Keiko and her peers at the convenience store, childhood friends and family.

One thing I found strange about a lot of reviews of this book (not from the Bookbug club) is that they described it as funny and/or light-hearted. I completely disagree, in fact I think the later chapters are rather brutal in their cruelty towards Keiko and even Shiraha, who isn't even likeable… everyone wants them to change, to be «normal», but they just can't.

I was quite surprised when Keiko adopted Shiraha as a sort of pet, especially since he's pretty insufferable (a typical incel, really). Still, I can somehow relate with just wanting to please everyone so they stop bothering you- everyone around her is just so happy to see her have what they perceive as a boyfriend.

I found the characters besides Keiko and Shiraha to be rather lacking in depth, but that might have been intentional since the book is set from Keiko's point of view. She doesn't really understand others, mimicking their superficial mannerisms in order to fit in.

As an additional note, I was quite pleased to learn that the Portuguese translation I read was derived from the original Japanese text- sometimes translations from Japanese are done by translating the English version, making it so some details get lost. The Portuguese version I read was originally written in Brazillian Portuguese and later adapted for European readers.

Finally, I'd like to note that the English title is rather bland, especially considering that Keiko sees herself as an Employee before seeing herself as a woman or even human. The original title translates to «Convenience Store Human» and the Portuguese one translates to «A Matter of Convenience», both of which I find to be a lot more fitting.

Overall, I really liked it. I love the way Keiko's character shines through the writing style, in such an overly objective way. Keiko is incredibly endearing to me by how observational and smart she is. It helps that I could relate to some of her struggles… I wonder if other works by Sayaka have a similar writing style.