January 2020’s book was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This pick was brought by Shobha.

Book Synopsis:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Book Discussion:

We were lucky to have two recaps written by two of the Dine and Opine ladies! One remained in the outbox for awhile… leaving all of us wondering what was said and discussed in that recap. Finally she shared her recap. So here the recaps- enjoy!

Recap #1 (Suhanti)

Venue was Yama in SouthPark.  

After frantic texts and calls to determine the correct restaurant ( there are 2 with the same name in opposite ends of town ), and being provided the address by both Karie and Amy, I came in time as Jill got ready with the book discussion questions.  She surpassed her own goal on bringing the discussion questions.  She not only brought the questions, she also got the lyrics for the song referenced in the book and list of books by the author read by the characters of the book.  

Seemed like more wine was consumed than actual food this time by the wine drinkers (even Shoba was astonished enough to comment on that).  Everyone opted for salad and sushi rolls. The table next to us with mainly men in suits was a lot louder than the Dine and Opiner’s (given that there were only 6 of us).  The waiter appeared to have given up on us ordering anything more than wine (with Kari gesturing to bring another bottle) and had to be flagged down so we could order desserts.

2 (Jill & Sondra) had finished the book,   Amy was close to finishing and the rest of us were a little over halfway through.  But the discussion was lively ensuing a lot of comments around the amount and description of sex in the book.  We all could not settle on a genre that we would describe the book belonging too.  Everyone felt that the “little people” did not really add much to the book.  Table was divided as to the favorite characters Shoba and Amy votes for Tengo while the rest went with Temaru and the Dowager a close second.

Karie whipped out the book selections and started giving an introduction on how each book was selected.  We quickly hushed her down and asked her to hand out the selection printouts.  There were 3 picks and we all settled on Amy: My search for her killer…. with “The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks a close second.  Jill opined that we should just pick that and mark it off our reading list.    Have to resume my meeting.  Will let others add to this.

Recap 2: (Shobha)

DOBs and DOMBersThe silence! And the apathy- not one of the attendees came to my rescue…  (Update: Suhanthi did) Hence I have decided to call our group DOMB-Dine & Opine Mean Bookclub. 
Book Picks with preambles, prologues, Henrietta Slacks,   Souvenirs etc etc The book for next month is Amy. As in google ‘Amy+unsolved murder+journalist’. Nothing popped up? So add ‘self published’. Still nothing? Then  try ‘made-up-titles by Karrie Greathouse’. There. 
Kidding, just kidding. It’s fun to tease you K- instant gratification. Though I really did google the book with very similar keywords on Wednesday. 
Sondra came bearing gifts. She got us all these gorgeously colorful ‘urns’ from Spain- just beautiful! Think shallow urns, say like ….cereal bowls that aren’t microwave friendly and hence neither dishwasher safe. It was incredibly generous of you Stella – one-upping and overshadowing our bookmarks, easily foldable wraps and scarves we stuff in our bags as gifts to give…the ones with dual purpose of preventing our shoes from being crushed in travel. You instead brought these fragile, Costco paper towel sized packaged earthenware bowls all the way from Barcelona. Or Madrid. Amazing!Just wait- I am going to bring a ‘short- less’ Bollywood hero for you all next. Two of them,  just in case one breaks. 

Restaurant and Desserts and Servers that made me wish Little People really existed regarding the desserts, a quote comes to mind, and I paraphrase here…’there is special place in hell for restaurants serving crappy desserts’. That green tea cheesecake- I swear that’s got to be a mixture of ground up, week old, used great tea leaves with touch of sugar and some unknown, ineffective binding agent. I had to spit out the tiny bite I took and no amount of melted ice cream, spoon of lava cake could get the taste nor the texture out of my mouth. New Zealand café just gained New customer.
As for me being “judgey” about wines and their quantities- that was pure jealousy. Envy. Or both. I wasn’t drunk enough to not care how many were coming along and boy do I miss it. I remember the days when we averaged one bottle/person. Such a pity- I was fun then. 
Book Verdict and middle finger aka Flip the Bird for unanimous decisionsOver all thumbs up- Amy & I, sleep deprived, still deeply immersed were an obvious up.Karie was/is savoring it- no rushing that girl- and so no brainer there either. Sondra was meh- but in a thumbs up good kind of way meh, very laissez flaire (her resting state) in a I-eat-these-kinds-of-books-of-million-pages-for-breakfast way, what’s-so-unique-about-this-book? hashtag it-ain’t-no-Juliet-uhn-uhn way…Jill was just playing hard to get (our only thumbs down) esp if you consider all the preparation & homework she did to bring us the questions, their answers. And then, with a very straight face she says she wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.??!! How could you not, Jilly Billy? Courtesy of 1Q84 you, mah deeher  listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s Paper Moon song (the one you geekly read aloud too) for the first time- which by the way is beautiful..Amy and I YouTubed it at the table. And finally Suhanthi who was thumbs up too but then changed it to down, I think ..or maybe sideways, just so Jill doesn’t feel like an outcast. Suhanthi, all heart is sap in that way. 
Book, Weird chapter titles, Book Spoilers and just Book ..Jill & Sondra finished it- Amy too, minus 100 odd pages and then plus last few to get the ending.Karie and Suhanthi, who got the book just a week before were halfway through …and I, who downloaded it the night it was chosen barely made it past book 1. That’s 1/3rd for those who have neither purchased nor started on it yet. 
Which reminds me…despite my preemptive steps to deal with spoilers ie choosing to Wikipedia it, logic being that I prefer the end be spoiled on my terms rather than the DOMBers ruin it for me. Well, news flash- you DID ruin it. The fuckers at Wikipedia probably hadn’t read it either. There was no mention of pregnancies let alone an immaculate one (THAT, that wild hand gesturing by you all, indicating across the town, alternate reality or whatever, THAT was worst- the actual ruiner spoiler in case you are wondering).Now I’ll never want to finish this one too. 
As Suhanthi wrote- we all had our favorites in the book. Tengo who was Amy’s and mine, did lose some points with me- when his older married pervy lover squeezed his balls in response to Tengo’s very apt interpretation of her dream. I would have seriously backhanded her then or as soon as she let go of the above mentioned part of anatomy I would have then slapped her silly. And that’s saying something-staunch feminist that I think I am. But really, what was with manhandling of private parts? Everyone was doing it to everyone in this book. And the descriptions..-Ushi’s pubic hair like hair, pubic hair that looks like patchy grass, shapes of boobs, small boobs, big ones, soft penises, hard penises, asking strangers in the bar the size of their penises, scrotums (educational, thanks Jill), lesbian sex fantasies, lesbian sex and the premature ejaculations galore-a particular passage involving white slip actually made me gag, like seriously dry heave.
….definitely pervy. 

 Anywho -on that peculiarly pervy (which would be my 2 word description for 1Q84) note, Tuesday was our usual/unusual evening of fabulous company, good book, passionate conversations, endless and always to-be-continued laughter, decent sushi, shitty cheesecake (Amy’s description is best), rain and at least one solution to fix the issue of our cheating DOBers: in the future the monogamous ones should bring epic 1000+ page book selections. Let’s see how they juggle their philandering activities then. 

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