96. January 2021 book nomination — Sleep Donation


Karen Russell’s Sleep Donation is another short book, coming in at only 160 pages for the Barnes & Noble paperback, but my attention was grabbed by some of its reviews, which mention things we all have said we like about other books. One review describes the novella as, in part, “a kind of meditation upon the transmission of stories and dreams“ that “creates a fully imagined world with its own rituals and rules” (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/books/karen-russells-sleep-donation.html).

Another describes the “lush sentences and speculative wit ... the pleasure of Russell’s language, which is acrid, luminous, and deft, and for the way she confuses the ordinary and the marvelous” (https://slate.com/culture/2014/03/karen-russells-online-novella-sleep-donation-reviewed.html).

It’s available in both e-format and paperback in the UK and the USA.

It is a science fiction story about donating sleep to insomniacs, but the plot isn’t why I’m nominating it.


  • 1

    We did Sleep Donation once, though I think only @Ray_Otus , @clash_bowley , and myself read it, along with one other (no longer with the club). It was one of the first books we did after moving to G+ and the conversation is now lost.

    We have a whole new crowd of people in the club, now, though, so why not? It would have the distinction of being the first book we read twice (probably not the last). I thought it was excellent, BTW - one of my favourite book club reads of all time.

    Anyone else have any thoughts?

    By the way, our early book picks can be found here: https://www.ttrpbc.com/discussion/12/the-first-seven-years#latest . Sleep Donation was number pick #21 - we're now up to 95!

  • 1

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. I’ll be sure to consult this list in the future.

    I’m up for another pick if folks don’t want to do it twice.

    By the way, are we up to 95 or up to 96? Even though the short story and movie for December didn’t have a number on the heading, I counted them as 95.

  • 1

    Story of Your Life / Arrival is number 95. https://www.ttrpbc.com/categories/official-selections. Yours will be 96. Let's see how people respond to the suggestion.

  • 0
    For my part, I wasn't part of the club in those far-off days so a prior reading is not an issue. Looking at that list, I'm pretty sure I joined in the early 40s... I remember Tanith Lee's book but not The Man in the High Castle! And Sleep Donation sounds interesting as a book
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    My first book was #25, Day of the Triffids.

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    I joined after this book was first read, so I've no stake in whether it's read again. It sounds interesting, though.

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    Sounds like we don’t have anyone against it, so why don’t we make history by doing the same book twice?

  • 1

    It was interesting. I might actually re-read it. I feel like 2021 is going to be a year of "this is how the world ends" stories for me. I'm reading The Crystal World by J G Ballard and am being reminded of all the books I love about confronting things that are beyond the capabilities of humans to understand/process/survive. I feel like this book fits that mold, in a way, as the premise is a fundamental change in reality that forces humans to adapt or perish.

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