An online book club from a public space

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APS Together is a free online book club created by the lovely people of A public space. Each book is chosen by a writer who adds related ideas and commentary to the approximately 15-page section each day.

If you don’t already know what A public space that is, it began as a literary journal concerned with publishing works that have been overlooked or are yet to be discovered. A public space (APS) is continually considered one of Pushcart’s top 20 literary magazines, and last year (2019) several of their authors were finalists for the National Book Award.

In recent years, the literary journal has added a book brand (APS Books), launched the Deborah Pease Prize for Literature, and continues to host author events as well as courses from an exceptional array of writers at their headquarters in Brooklyn.

While we were all stuck at home during shelter-in-place orders, A Public Space launched #TolstoyTogether, a book club where everyone read the same 15 pages of War and Peace every day. Renowned writer and APS board member Yiyun Li was posting annotations and comments on the daily section, and from there, people were having conversations about the book on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #TolstoyTogether.

After War and peace was read cover to cover and we were still in quarantine, A Public Space decided to launch #APSTogether. It works similarly to #TolstoyTogether but has an assortment of authors giving annotations and idea books of their choosing.

The first list of books and authors was released in May 2020 and included:

Since then, APS Together has added three new books and authors, extending the book club through December 2020.

I can’t recommend this book club highly enough to anyone who loves literature, but especially writers. The perspectives and ideas shared through this book club are instructive and numerous. Even setting aside the writer leading the discussion, so many interesting facts, questions and considerations are shared by other members of the book club, many of whom are distinguished men of letters in their own right.

I read The turn of the screw twice before reading it with APS Together, but once I read with everyone’s comments I started to draw parallels and see relationships in the prose that I had completely glossed over in my previous readings. To top it off, there was a Zoom chat with Garth Greenwell where he went over some of the posts on the book and answered questions submitted before the chat. I came away from that first book with a much stronger understanding of the intricacies of its prose.

What I took away from APS Together could have been achieved on my own, although it would have required an incredible amount of research and multiple reviews that closely analyze key elements of the book, but through sharing information, I gained knowledge that would have taken me months to extract on my own. This book club allowed me to link the thoughts and comments of other readers to make entirely new accomplishments that would never have been possible without the multiplicity of perspectives provided by APS Together.

APS Together is a book club that will provide you with a rich reading experience through each book they choose and help you incorporate different perspectives when critically evaluating other books you read. I hope you will join #APSTogether for the upcoming discussions; you’ll learn a lot, and your unique perspective will add texture for all of us who read and review these wonderful works of literature.

Updates and details regarding APS Together can be found here on the A Public Space news page.

For even more book club content, click here!

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