January Book Club: Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered

For our January book club, we will be reading Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver.

When I saw Barbara Kingsolver’s name in my email from Barnes and Nobel back in October, my heart skipped a beat. If you’ve read some of my prior blog posts, you know that Barbara Kingsolver is that person I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with someday. It isn’t a stretch to say that she’s my hero, and I would consider it a life well lived if mine came to emulate hers in any way.

So in the very next heartbeat, I discovered that Kingsolver’s newest novel had not only just been released, I could go buy it for 40% off for members. Yes! I picked up a copy and began reading it the very next day.

By the end of the first chapter I was already convinced that this would be a perfect pick for our Gold Millennial Book Club. So far we’ve read nonfiction and poetry. But there is just something about fiction. When it’s good, it’s too good to put down.

Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver and blueberry lavender walnut scones

In a recent interview, Kingsolver said that she never means to, but each of her new novels seems magically to correspond to current events, just as it is being published. For this reason, her novels have been so relatable and so beloved.

“It’s funny that I have this crazy habit of publishing right at the moment before a new movement kind of crashes, or breaks open … I think of myself as a surfer. I’m not making the wave, I’m just riding it.” – Barbara Kingsolver

But I don’t think this means that only one generation can relate to Kingsolver’s works. All of us who are living now can relate to her writing. She is a contemporary novelist; a mouthpiece for the people and an undercover muckraker of our nation’s most sensitive shortcomings.

What I love most about Unsheltered is the way it deconstructs the most insidious millennial challenges – like student loan debt and house buying and multi-generational living – in fiction form! We have been talking a lot about all of these issues here on Gold Millennial. We’ve gotten to share some of our factual research and also some of our deepest personal thoughts and stories on these topics. Reading about them in a fictionalized format however, crafted by one of our country’s premier novelists, will surely be a treat.

Image from iOS

Page after page-turning page, Unsheltered sucks in the reader with its down-to-earth validating narrative. It makes us realize how much we’re all in this fucking Titanic together, hitting the iceberg and going down with the ship.

“My interest is human behavior, and the complex ways we do or don’t come to terms with ourselves, our societies, and our habitats. A novel is the form for that kind of exploration, through characters, plot, and language that can spark vivid imagery. Journalism offers facts. A novel invites you inside another human brain.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Every other chapter alternates between a modern family (2016) and a family living in the same house in the 1800s (1871), each with their own unique challenges. Some very different, but many oddly familiar. Through the lens of the historical perspective, we get the rare opportunity to traverse a bridge between life as it is and life as it was, and maybe realize insights we couldn’t have understood before.

I’ve read about a third of the way through so far and am excited to pick up these families’ stories again with all of you, as we read together throughout the month of January. If you haven’t joined us in one of our book club reads yet, this one is going to be a real treat. You won’t want to miss it 😉

Pick up your copy from Amazon today.

“The magic of a literary novel is that it isn’t just one thing—it’s a different experience for every reader. What we take away from it is framed by the experience and questions we bring to it. The novels I read in my youth, when I reread them again years later, always land very differently because I’ve become a different person. Anyone is invited to take what he or she wants from Unsheltered. I hope you’ll get absorbed, have a good time, and come out the other side with a satisfaction based on your own nutritional needs as a reader. ” – Barbara Kingsolver, in an interview for Psychology Today.

Will you be reading with us this month? Do you have any great book club suggestions? Please share with us in the comments ❤

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