"There is nothing so joyous as reading together.” —Kaitlynn Cassady
About APS Together
APS Together is a series of virtual book clubs, free and open to all. The idea is to read together—slowly, imaginatively, miscellaneously. There is a daily reading schedule for each book, a half-hour each day. A different writer serves as the host for each book, and every morning they share observations on the reading on A Public Space's website and Twitter with the hashtag #apstogether. Readers are invited to offer their insights, share research, ask questions as well. At the end of the book club, the host joins A Public Space Editor Brigid Hughes and friends for a conversation on Zoom.
With the APS Together archive, you can also read with us on your own schedule, at any time. Explore the collection below.
Featured Book Club
Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin
Read one of Taiwan’s most innovative literary modernists, and the country’s most renowned lesbian writer, with Paul Lisicky: "What did it feel like to be queer and alive in 1990s Taipei? How to be a college student adrift on a surf of lust and frustration? Qiu Miaojin aims to capture those questions and more in this mashup of letters, aphorisms, and meditations on a reptile, a vehicle for a country’s fixation on taxonomy at a time of newness, after thirty years of martial law."
Hosted By Paul Lisicky
Upcoming Book Clubs
Past Book Clubs
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Read Herman Melville's great American novel,” Moby-Dick, with Yiyun Li: “Some time ago–after finishing my annual reading of Moby-Dick and already missing the watery world–I thought I would take on a new way of reading, copying out Moby-Dick by hand–the epitome of slow reading and savoring every word.”
Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen
Read Dependency, the third installment in the Danish author Tove Ditlevsen's recently translated memoirs The Copenhagen Trilogy, with Dorthe Nors: "The Danish title for the book is Gift. In Danish the word gift means both “married” and “poison.” It’s my favorite title for a book—and it is, on top of that, one of the best books ever written."
Stephen Hero by James Joyce
Read James Joyce's posthumously published autobiographical novel, Stephen Hero, with Belinda McKeon: “Though of course it’s the consequence of a large chunk of the manuscript being lost, still there’s something energizing, isn’t there, about being plunged into the narrative mid-sentence; in the middle of a sentence, indeed, which doesn’t entirely make sense, no matter how we build out its full version.”
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Read Tolstoy’s epic masterpiece War and Peace alongside the author Yiyun Li’s project, Tolstoy Together: 85 Days of War and Peace. In her book, Li captures the complex feelings and reactions Tolstoy’s epic novel inspires in its readers: “Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, I was fortunate to have readers around the world join me for a journey through War and Peace. Tolstoy Together encapsulates that extraordinary experience.”
The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald
Read W.G. Sebald's novel in four portraits, The Emigrants, with Elisa Gabbert. An archival project grasping at memory and decay, Sebald's The Emigrants evades categorization, existing simultaneously as a work of fiction, recollection, and photography: "For Sebald, seeing begets memory; his walks, travels, & reading are all ways of looking, thus ways of cultivating encounters with memory."
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Read Jane Austen’s final completed novel, Persuasion, with Rachel Cohen. Written while Austen herself battled illness, Persuasion is a story of coming to terms with loss and finding new forms of inspiration and companionship in the wider world: “In her creation, Anne Elliot, a careful reader and rereader, Austen offers a friend and companion to her own readers, the ones she imagined, us."
The Little Hotel by Christina Stead
Read Christina Stead's The Little Hotel with Idra Novey: "Stead worked on The Little Hotel between other novels for years, and there is a sense of the author sharpening the eccentricities and prejudices of her characters for a long time...This sly, concise novel packs in quite a number of dark truths, too, about the prejudices that immobilized postwar Europe and continue to immobilize in our present era.”
The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas by Machado de Assis
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis was one of Brazil's most celebrated writers. Read the novel The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás-Cubas with an expert on Brazilian politics and culture, Larry Rohter: “The mixture of trenchant social satire and bold formal experimentation seemed unlike anything I had ever read elsewhere, and by the end I was really hooked, determined to read as much of his work as I could.”
Hue and Cry by James Alan McPherson
Read Hue and Cry by James Alan McPherson, who became the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1978, with Lan Samantha Chang: "The story reveals bigotry and oppression through its use of scenes, but its structural spine is the catalogue of beautifully described, eternally remembered characters Thomas observes and vows to record during their time on earth, before the Horn blows, 'and all them in the graves will hear it and be raised up.'"
The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers
Read The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers, one of the most celebrated writers of the Southern Gothic tradition, with A Public Space: “The Ballad of the Sad Café could come with an accompanying subtitle, The Anatomy of Human Longing, as though Carson McCullers was writing not with a pen, but with a scalpel.”
The City and the House by Natalia Ginzburg
Read Natalia Ginzburg's The City and the House with A Public Space: "An epistolary novel written with Natalia Ginzburg's dry wit, The City and the House turns physical dramas into detached narratives in letters that leave a permanent impression, even a permanent wound, on the reader."
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
Read Jane Bowles's only novel, Two Serious Ladies, part of a body of work that consisted of one novel, one play, and six short stories, with Claire Messud: “The novel—a rare American existentialist fiction by a woman writer—tells the stories of Mrs. Copperfield and Miss Goering, two women seeking to live authentically and to find happiness.”
The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Read tales from The Grimm Reader: The Classic Tales of the Brothers Grimm translated and edited by Maria Tatar with Yiyun Li "not merely for consolation, but for the hope of the return of a better day."
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
Read William Maxwell’s novel So Long, See You Tomorrow, originally published in the New Yorker in 1979, with Aimee Bender: "A novel with a dramatic story to tell, but it has a quiet core, a thrumming beautiful dignified quiet core about loss, and that is the magnetic pull that brings me to it again and again.”
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Read Muriel Spark's best-known novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum: “I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie when I was 23, before starting my first job as a seventh-grade teacher… I was under the impression that Miss Jean Brodie belonged among the ranks of inspiring educators. Happily, I couldn’t have been more mistaken. One of the novel’s many pleasures is the unsentimental way Spark complicates the trope of the impassioned, quirky, charismatic teacher.”
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Read James Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room, described by the New York Times as the "story he wanted to tell that wasn't the kind of story he was supposed to tell," with Carl Phillips: “Giovanni's Room is a fever dream of language, desire, tenderness, those brief moments in which we think we know ourselves and others, the larger moments when we realize the quest to know anything for sure may be unresolvable—yet we keep questing, anyway.”
True Grit by Charles Portis
Though publicly-shy himself, Charles Portis wrote one of the most beloved and best-known Westerns of all time. Read True Grit with Ed Park: "True Grit is peerless: a magical historical novel, a revenge story, an utterly convincing western, and yet somehow also brilliantly funny, even absurd."
Green Water, Green Sky by Mavis Gallant
Read Mavis Gallant’s novel Green Water, Green Sky, one of only two novels she wrote in her lifetime, with Elliott Holt: “Green Water, Green Sky is a book about memory, family, and the meaning of home."
Map by Wisława Szymborska
Read Nobel Prize–winning poet Wislawa Szymborska, whose poems offer "a world where one can breathe" (Czeslaw Milosz), with Ilya Kaminsky: "As we watch (and live through) all the mess and tragedy happening around us (and inside us), let’s console ourselves with a poet who knows what it means live in a moment of crisis. A poet who survives. A poet who laughs amidst misfortune. A poet who delights."
The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
Read The Maytrees, a novel of lifelong love set on Cape Cod, by a treasured American writer with Elizabeth McCracken: "Like all of my favorite books, The Maytrees is hard to describe: its plot is time, really, but it's about empathy and marriage and divorce and love and the consolations of art."
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Read an American ghostly classic, by one of the greatest stylists in the English language, with Garth Greenwell: "The Turn of the Screw is a story about ghosts (or is it?), madness, the vulnerability of children, the lure of desire. It's one of the most disquieting books I know, and genuinely shocking—but all of its horror is conveyed through suggestion, implication, gesture. It's a profound interrogation of the nature of evil; it's also immensely fun."
Tolstoy Together 2020
Read Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace with Yiyun Li: “I have found that the more uncertain life is, the more solidity and structure Tolstoy’s novels provide. In these times, one does want to read an author who is so deeply moved by the world that he could appear unmoved in his writing.”