You had me at Hullabaloo

The Book Club Reads Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

Take one holy man in a guava tree, add a venal father, a food-obsessed mother and a younger sister in love with the Hungry Hop Kwality Ice Cream boy and you’ve got a recipe for delicious comedy. Mix in a rioting band of alcoholic monkeys, a journalist determined to expose Sampath as a fraud, an unholy trio of hypochondriac district medical officer, army general and university professor, all determined to solve the monkey problem, and you’ve got a real hullabaloo.” Reviews

Picking books is a personal art form and usually a personal act.  Only you will be reading the book and so only you matter.  Picking a book for a book club is an entirely different story.  Especially when that book club is one consisting of your very diverse, very smart and very opinionated work colleagues who are giving you several hours of their limited time to read this book you have so thoughtfully chosen for them.   And, to make matters worse some of them want you to share only your favorite book in the world or explain the real reason they joined book club was to learn more about you.  Uh. Oh.

This is how I pick books:

  • The cover.  (It matters. Don’t let anyone tell you different.)
  • The title.  (Who can resist The Violent Bear it Away or The Beautiful and the Damned?)
  • The first two pages. (Thankfully, most places include this important info online.)

That’s pretty much it.  From that I know if I’m in the mood for a particular book.  And yeah, I read the New York Times Book Review section and get recommendations from friends, but really I just need those three items.   But for book club, I try to be more discerning.  For this past month’s pick I went straight to the top – books that won prizes.    The Man Booker Prize to be more exact.   And in 2006 who won the Man Booker Prize? Kiran Desai for The Inheritance of Loss. Now onto to look at the cover and read the first two pages (This system works. Really.).   Hmm..  Here’s Desai’s other book Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.  Title is better.  Book cover is better.  First two pages  – you got it, better.    Even if it didn’t win a prize it’s the first book from a Man Booker Prize winning author.  I’m sold.

I send this email to my book club members:

Here’s our next book club pick: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

Five Reasons I chose this book:

  1. The author is a Booker Prize Winner
  2. “Hullabaloo” is in the title
  3. It has a ridiculous premise (I love ridiculous premises)
  4. Features a  “rioting band of alcoholic monkeys”
  5. It’s about a guy who lives in a tree

And I included that Amazon review I already shared (so thoughtfully) with all of you at the beginning of this post.

Are you sold yet?  Well let me tell you the book club is still wondering what all the hullabaloo was about. “Was it a satire or a fantasy?”  “Why was the ending so disappointing?”  “Tell us more about that grandma – we love her!”  And SPOILER ALERT “Who the heck was she cooking in that pot?”

And one book member says,  “Jen, you’re one of those people who fall for the fancy marketing synopsis of the book.”  Yes, I am.  But don’t forget to look at the cover too.

Jennifer Kohn is the VP of Marketing Communications and is still disappointed she didn’t get to write movie synopsis as one of her many college jobs (lost it to those darn work study kids).

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