Shelf Life Book Club: 'Ape House,' the new novel from 'Water for Elephants' author Sara Gruen

Given the positive feedback from the first installment of the book club–where we debated the merits of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay–we’re moving forward. I heard from a lot of readers who thought that a weekly book club was simply too much, that given our busy lives no one has time to consume a book a week. We’re still going to have the club once every week or two, but to make it easier for everyone we’re going to do is post the book club schedule three or four weeks at a time. That way you can have plenty of advance notice and time to read.

So going forward, here’s where we stand:

Friday, September 24: Ape House, by Sara Gruen

Friday, October 1: Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

Friday, October 8: Room, by Emma Donoghue

Most of you remember Gruen, whose 2006 novel Water for Elephants–the tale of a Depression-era circus–was a huge grass-roots hit, selling 2.9 million copies. (The movie version, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, is now in post-production and due out next spring.) Though Ape House is the contemporary tale of a group of apes–bonobos–and their trainer, it has much the same feel as Water for Elephants, mostly because of Gruen’s ability to write animal characters that are as compelling (if not more compelling) than the humans who surround them.

So pick up a copy of Ape House, which goes on sale today, and come back on Sept. 24 for a rousing discussion of the book. But first things first: As part of the book club, Sara Gruen will be answering some of your questions. Is there anything you want to know from her? How she does her research, how she does chooses which animals to focus on, why it took her so long to write this novel? Tell us below.

Comments (7 total) Add your comment
  • Karate Pants

    I think I want to know the same thing everyone else wants to know, but it’s about Water for Elephants…WHY has Uncle Al been omitted from the screenplay – or worse yet, rolled into August’s character. I’m completely baffled about this move. Sean Penn drops out, everything shifts. Did Gruen have any say in the movie adaptation’s major change??

  • Amanda Hearne

    How do you join the book club?!

    • Kristina

      I believe you just read the book and on the days mentioned above you go to the blog and post what you thought and reply to comments from other readers.

  • Kristina

    Why is this post not on the homepage?

    • Tina Jordan

      It was on the home page when it was published—it’s just moved off since so many other blog posts have subsequently come out.

  • jessy

    i haven’t read this book yet but my mom would really love this book but i read all the time lately and could really use a good book about now to read

  • Michael

    This book is no Water for Elephants. Gruen tries to do too much in it and it never comes together. Freedom and Room are much better!!!

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