"There is nothing so joyous as reading together.” —Kaitlynn Cassady
About APS Together
APS Together reimagines the book club. It has three guiding principles: We read daily. We read slowly, a half-hour each day. We read imaginatively, miscellaneously, individually. A different writer serves as the host for each book, and every morning they share observations and reflections on that day’s pages. APS Together readers (we hope that will include you!) contribute their own comments and questions throughout the day here. We read mostly novels, and occasionally short-story collections and poetry; most APS Together book clubs last about two weeks. At the end of each book club, the host joins A Public Space editor Brigid Hughes for a conversation on Zoom.
APS Together was established in March 2020, with a collective reading of War and Peace hosted by Yiyun Li. (Tolstoy Together compiled that experience into a book, which you can find here). The book clubs originally took place on Twitter, but starting in 2023, we’re reading together on Substack.
With the APS Together archive, you can also read on your own schedule, at any time. Explore the collection below.
Join the readers and friends helping to keep APS Together free and open to all.
Upcoming Book Clubs
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Read To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf's brilliant novel, with Mona Simpson: “‘Blessed with luck and innocence, I fell upon the novel that once and forever opened the door of imaginative fiction for me,’ Eudora Welty wrote of To the Lighthouse, ‘and read it cold, in all its wonder and magnitude.” No matter how much we know about Virginia Woolf, how much we’ve read (and I haven’t read anywhere close to all of it), I’d like to read the novel cold, for pure pleasure."
Hosted by Mona Simpson
May 1, 2023 (14 Days)
The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
Read The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, a cornerstone of Italian culture, language, and literature, with translator Michael F. Moore: "If Dante is Italy’s supreme poet, Manzoni is its supreme novelist."
Hosted by Michael F. Moore
February 21, 2023 (49 Days)
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Read Villette, Charlotte Brontë's final novel, with Yiyun Li: "Published in 1858 and partially autobiographical, Villette is a lesser known work by Charlotte Brontë than Jane Eyre, though the two novels share some thematic connections. However, Villette to me is a quintessential novel about working, and it is also not far-fetched to call it a novel about an immigrant’s experience (before novels began to get that label: immigrant novels).
Hosted by Yiyun Li
November 15, 2022 (31 Days)
W-3 by Bette Howland
Lost to history and then reissued by A Public Space Books, join us to read W-3, and extraordinary account of Bette Howland's stay in a small psychiatric wing in one of Chicago's large university hospitals, with Lynn Steger Strong: "It is a master class in the power of attention; crystalline and sharp, too smart to offer certainty or redemption, the book offers, instead, something close to what it is to be alive."
Hosted by Lynn Steger Strong
October 19, 2022 (12 Days)
Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo
Read Zeno's Conscience, the classic modernist novel—and Svevo's last—with Claire Messud: "Zeno’s Conscience is a masterpiece, a novel overflowing with human truth in all its murkiness, laughter and terror, a book as striking and relevant today as it was when it was first published, and a book that is in every good way—its originality included—like life.”
Hosted by Claire Messud
September 13, 2022 (21 Days)
Cane by Jean Toomer
Read the great American writer Jean Toomer's 1923 masterpiece, Cane, with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts: "Cane is itself a journey: from south to north and back again, migrating between poetry and prose, traversing interior and exterior terrain. It was written as the Great Migration was under way, a movement spurred by the old yearnings of a people breaking time, at once world-historical and the news. It is the record Toomer attempted to make of what he was seeing, hearing, feeling."
Hosted by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
August 3, 2022 (12 Days)
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.”
Hosted by Yiyun Li
February 3, 2022
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."
Hosted by Dorthe Nors
February 3, 2022
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.”
Hosted by Belinda McKeon
January 12, 2022
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.”
Hosted by Yiyun Li
September 15, 2021
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
June 17, 2021
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."
Hosted by Elisa Gabbert
May 6, 2021
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."
Hosted by Rachel Cohen
March 25, 2021
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.”
Hosted by Idra Novey
February 27, 2021
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.”
Hosted by Larry Rohter
February 26, 2021
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.'"
Hosted by Lan Samantha Chang
February 5, 2021
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.”
Hosted by A Public Space
January 22, 2021
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."
Hosted by A Public Space
January 5, 2021
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.”
Hosted by Claire Messud
December 2, 2020
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."
Hosted by Yiyun Li
October 27, 2020
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.”
Hosted by Aimee Bender
October 14, 2020
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.”
Hosted by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
September 30, 2020
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.”
Hosted by Carl Phillips
September 16, 2020
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."
Hosted by Ed Park
September 2, 2020
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."
Hosted by Elliott Holt
August 19, 2020
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."
Hosted by Ilya Kaminsky
August 5, 2020
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."
Hosted by Elizabeth McCracken
July 20, 2020
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."
Hosted by Garth Greenwell
July 8, 2020
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.”
Hosted by Yiyun Li
March 16, 2020