Fiction Matters.

In this week’s dive into Choosing Gratitude, I’m sharing about Fiction Matters, hands down my favorite bookish place on the internet.

Sara’s Instagram home and Patreon page

Sara started her Instagram account over six years ago and added a Patreon last August. The Patreon includes a monthly bookclub (with a “Bookclub Kit” from Sara that includes discussion questions, author interviews, and reviews, plus a discussion on Zoom – because there are members around the globe, she offers two meeting times each month and some folks attend both), a podcast from Sara about what she’s read/reading, a monthly Bibliobrunch where members share book recommendations with each other (also on Zoom), and a Discord channel (admittedly it was intimidating to start, but Katie encouraged me to just dive in and she was right). Yep, daughter Katie is also a member and she gets all the credit for introducing me to FictionMatters’ Instagram a few years ago.

The first bookclub was last September; we read Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. I was blown away by the discussion – so many smart, thoughtful readers! This is not the neighborhood bookclub with gossip, wine, and maybe a few questions about the book. This was serious bookish delight! These discussions have encouraged me to be a better reader and for sure to read books I might not pick up on my own. I have a special Goodreads shelf for our bookclub books; you can see it here.

Over the months, I’ve gotten to know Sara and a handful of those other readers well enough to arrange buddy reads and share more personal book recommendations in our online connections. and now I’m a huge fan of Discord, too.

Last month, Katie reached out to eleven of my/our closest Fiction Matters’ friends and they replied with book recommendations tailored for me. Katie purchased thirteen of them and gave them to me for my birthday, along with tags that recorded who recommended each title.

These friends checked my Goodreads – not only are these books I haven’t read, in many cases they’re books that were nowhere on my radar. Having someone know you well enough to press a book into your hands and say “This book mattered to me and I want you to read it, too” is such a gift.

I created a special place for these books in my study Can you see them sitting on top of the hutch?

I also created a “Birthday Bibliobrunch” shelf on Goodreads (link)

Of course – you know me! – it’s tempting to drop everything and read these books. But another part of me is looking forward to savoring them, one title at a time over the next year. I have already finished How the Word is Passed (I borrowed it from the library and knew I needed to own a copy … it’s already full of highlights), but the rest are happily sitting on on the (To Be Read) shelf.

Bottom line, Sara and the Fiction Matters community are now an essential part of my life, and my reading is all the better for those connections.

and just curious – if you’ve read any of the books on my new shelf, do you have a suggestion of where I should begin?

Happy Thursday my friends!


16 thoughts on “Fiction Matters.

  1. What a wonderful gift for you, Mary! I’ve read several of the books in your new stack. I’d start with Red At the Bone. It’s a powerful read and I think you’d really like it. Tenth of December would also make a good “opener.” (A word of not warning, exactly, but just awareness . . . Home is book #2 in the Gilead series. So if you haven’t already, I’d read Gilead first.) What fun for you! (And . . . it’s okay to shake things up and play with your “new toys” right away. Just sayin.) 😉

  2. Oh my gosh, Mary, Thoughtfulness ABOUNDS here! In your own reflection + gratitude…in Katie’s creativity + generosity…the 11 friends’ connections…and those wonderful tags Katie wrote that will be the bookmark for each…gah! I’m loving it all! That shelf–pure delight.

  3. I loved, loved, loved Red at the Bone (and I think you will too!) And I just requested Clint’s new book. (Plus, I want to get the 1619 Project book!)

    So much good reading there Mary!

  4. What an amazing gift! I might just drop a link to this post to some family members to file away for a future gift idea for me.

    The only book I have read from your collection is Red at the Bone, which I really enjoyed. But did I ever tell you that Annie Dillard is probably the most famous alumna of my/kiddo’s school? I haven’t read this one but loved An American Childhood.

  5. That is a very special and personal gift! I agree with Kym, Red at the Bone is very good, and I bet you will love all four books in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series. I also enjoyed The Door and still find myself thinking about Emerence on occasion. I haven’t read that Annie Dillard, but I do have a re-read of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek planned. I don’t think I could wait to read them, I would have to jump right in!

  6. Love your list and look forward to checking them out. “How the Word is Passed” was a 5 star read for me. I also loved “Home”, “The Door” and “Red At The Bone”. They can all go to the top of your list. Thanks for sharing. You have added many good books to my reading list over the past few months. Enjoy!!

  7. Katie had a great idea with this one! I’ve read many of the books on this list and you’re in for some great reading time. No matter where you start you can’t go wrong. There are a couple I haven’t read that I’m going to add to my soon-list.

  8. PS. Weren’t you blindsided by the NBA winner! It is the only one I haven’t read on the fiction list. The winner of the non-fiction was the only one I had read! I have some good reading ahead, too.

  9. What a fantastic and thoughtful gift! I’ve read several of the books you received and they were all very good, so I think you can start with which ever one you want.
    I plan on joining Fiction Matters and switching my MMD membership from book club to patreon.

  10. I’m a huge fan of the Marilynne Robinson books. I’ve also read A Woman is No Man which was a powerful read, sometimes difficult to read, but definitely worthwhile. Luis Urrea came to Rochester for a lecture many years ago. He was one of very few authors who received a standing ovation. I’ve read Into the Beautiful North and loved it, but have not read The House of Broken Angels although it’s been on my to-read list for a very long time as has his novel, The Hummingbird’s Daughter. This was truly a wonderful gift! I recognize most of the titles, and will be watching your Goodreads feed too see what you think of them.

  11. That girl of yours is so creative! I read Holy the Firm at some point but now don’t remember much about it and I am planning to read/reread the Marilynne Robinson series in the new year. I have heard of a few of these but what a treasure of titles. Rejoining Fiction Matters has been on my consider this list for awhile. Maybe in the new year.

  12. What a lovely thoughtful gift. I love the tags in each book. Our book group read Red at the Bone so I have listened to it and read it. At the right time, I enjoy M. Robinson’s books. She is a beautiful writer.

  13. What an amazing gift Mary! Love your study too, so cozy. Your book club sounds fun and what a great way to meet others that love books too!

  14. What an awesome gift- of course that’s how Katie rolls! Looking forward to thoughts on this month’s reads.

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