Announcing our January book {Book Club}

This picture is a hint. Initial guess?

Summers and Januarys are made for novel reading and boy do we have a good one for you! I am super excited to announce that our January book is Fieldwork: a novel by Mischa Berlinski

It’s got it all, murder, intrigue, and cross-cultural work. 

Barnes and Noble describes it this way: “When his girlfriend takes a job in Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, planning to enjoy himself and work as little as possible. But one evening a fellow expatriate tips him off to a story: a charismatic American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, has been found dead—a suicide—in the Thai prison where she was serving a life sentence for murder. Curious at first, Mischa is soon immersed in the details of her story. This brilliant, haunting novel expands into a mystery set among the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life became a battleground for the m’s [cross-cultural workers] and the scientists living among them.”

Stephen King (yea, I was surprised he read it) described it as a page turner! I’m almost done reading it for the second time and can’t wait for you to get it so we can TALK!

You’ve got two weeks before we start discussing it — January 14th 

Here’s the overall schedule:

  • December 31– announce the book
  • January 7 – discuss a theme in the book related to cross-cultural work without getting into the plot 
  • January 14th, 21st, and 28th — we will discuss the book! Coming at it from different angles

But first, you need to get the book and read it :)!


Since it’s the end of the year, let’s talk reading goals. One year I thought I’d stretch myself and set my reading goal a bit higher than normal. Being a bit too competitive at times for my own good, it found me in December hunting for short books. Not really the noblest way to pick books :). I will say, had I not been desperate for short books I would not have read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating and would have missed out on the fact that snails have  about 2,600 teeth! with 36 per row and 80+ rows! Who knew. The following year my goal included reading at least ten long books — since I tend to view them as slight impediments to my goals. A goal that didn’t call out the crazy in me quite so much.

What about you? Do you set set reading goals? What kind? What are your goals reading goals for 2014?

But more importantly, are you in for reading Fieldwork: a novel with us? Give a shout out in the comments.

Photo credit  Βethan via Flickr


  1. Kimberly December 30, 2013

    Fieldwork is on hold at the library. I’ve never really thought about setting reading goals, but I do keep a reading calendar (which I wrote about for this space before I knew VA came with a book club). Loving it.

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2013

      Kim I loved reading about your reading calendar and can’t wait to discuss it later this week!! And so glad you’re in on Fieldwork’s discussion!!

  2. Patty Stallings December 30, 2013

    I hadn’t thought of reserving the Kindle version of the book at my library in the US.  Thanks for the idea, Kim!This fall I came up with a list of things that keep me fresh and made it a “requirement” to do at least 3 of those things by the end of each day before piling on more work related tasks.  Reading is definitely on that list. 

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2013

      Oh Patty you are so much more productive than I — I make a list of things I must get done and be sure that I do at least three amongst all the “fresh” things I do. Maybe I should be less self focused 🙂

  3. Michelle December 30, 2013

    I used to keep track of the books I read by noting the title at the top of my journal pages.  Then, life got busy and my desire to read a few pages before bed was important than keeping track of what and how many.
    I am a reading fiend.  I have many other things I like to do but nothing is as relaxing as curling up with a good book.  I try to read different genres and not get in any ruts.
    I checked out this new book.  Looks interesting.

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2013

      Michelle, what are some of your favorite books? I started writing down my books because I was reading so many (I don’t mean for this to sound prideful) — I made myself write them down as a discipline to slow down and tune in and not just blaze past. And then had a function to set annual reading goals (I think three years ago) and viola, the next step 🙂

  4. Carolyn December 30, 2013

    I’m with you, Michelle!  Nothing else for me is as relaxing as curling up with a good book – and if dark chocolate is involved, even better. 🙂 I’m in for January’s read with you all – the book looks intriguing and I’m interested in the fact that all the reviews I read described his treatment of the different perspectives as “fair” and “objective” – very tough to accomplish!  Can’t wait to dive in.

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2013

      Carolyn, that’s one of the things I appreciate about this book — the all parties are portrayed respectfully. I don’t know if you read how this project evolved. It started out as non-fiction and evolved into a fictional account of the Dylao (a made-up tribe).

  5. Danielle Wheeler December 31, 2013

    I’ve been itching for a good novel since I finished Kate Morton’s “The Secret Keeper.”  Can’t wait for this one.  My hubby often tells me I need to just turn my brain off.  A good novel is only way I can really do that. 🙂  

  6. Jennifer December 31, 2013

    I love reading… Always have and I think always will. The timing to start reading this new book could also not be better. Our semester ends and winter vacation begins this Sunday. I do not so much have reading goals as simply keep reading… The lack of English books or something to read in English was the thing that I found hardest when I first came to China… but as well as finding new sources of books… 18 months ago, after 3 years here I used a friends Kindle to help them with something for an evening, and was converted. I loved reading books… I didn’t think e-books could be the same… but the accessability has been priceless.  My challenge with the new year, also next week, is going to be starting to study again, online. I have the wonderful pile of books for the first semester sitting on my table waiting for me. I am also looking forward to the different type of reading I will get from them … and to watching a dream become reality.

    1. Amy Young December 31, 2013

      Congrats on your dream becoming a reality! And when you’re studying, there’s nothing like a novel for a good distraction 🙂

  7. Teri Nichols January 2, 2014

    Hello Everyone,
    Just Subscribed to Velvet ashes and am excited to be part of this book club and the grove. I live in a country where libraries are not cherished, and when I was given a kindle a few years back my quality of living increased immensely! I am an avid reader of just about any thing, cereal boxes, bathroom cleaner labels, etc:) So I can be a desperate for books girl! Thanks for this opportunity to have a forum to discuss new books. When I left the USA I had never even heard of a book club…..then saw them built into  TV and Movie scripts, so this is ground breaking for me. Blessings, Teri

    1. Amy Young January 2, 2014

      Teri! Sounds like you are amongst kindred spirits! I’m so glad you found us. I was just working on next week’s post when your comment popped up and made me smile 🙂

  8. Sarah H January 3, 2014

    I’m excited to be part of this book discussion! I have been looking for something to break up the daily grind of language learning but have been feeling guilty for reading anything other than homework. A friend encouraged me to throw that guilt out the window and read something for fun so this is coming at the perfect time!

    1. Amy Young January 3, 2014

      Here’s to guilt free reading :)!!! Welcome aboard Sarah. And yes, language study is not for the faint at heart, is it :)! You go girl!

  9. Jenny January 3, 2014

    I’m in! Read the book a while back when you suggested it on your blog Amy and loved it- excited to read it a second time and discuss. I didn’t know goodreads had a reading goals section, will have to check that out… I love goodreads though- helps me keep straight what I’m reading and book recommendations! And I wholeheartedly agree with kindle being a significant addition to my life- in my opinion everyone who lives overseas should invest

    1. Amy Young January 3, 2014

      Jenny, for some reason your comment just made me feel all warm and happy inside. Thanks for letting me know that a post inspired you to read :). Happy, happy, happy! And if you’re on goodreads, friend me! Goodreads is one of my happy places and I’m so glad you’re in for the book!

      1. Jenny January 3, 2014

        haha goodreads is one of my happy places too!

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