Plano Reads: Second Tuesday Book Club Votes for 2024 Books
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Plano Reads: Second Tuesday Book Club Votes for 2024 Books

August is our voting month for next year’s Second Tuesday Book Club book list! Please join our group to vote for your preferred book titles, and to discuss Julie Otsuka’s award-winning novel The Swimmers, a great choice for the last month of summer. We will meet in person from 7 to 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library . Please email Cathe Spencer at, or call Schimelpfenig Library at 972-769-4200, if you have questions or comments. See you soon!

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

Available as Print | eBook | eAudiobook

The swimmers are unknown to each other except through their private routines (slow lane, fast lane), and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world. One of these swimmers is Alice. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps, “her mind floats free” into the disorder of memory loss. Alice’s estranged daughter, reentering her mother’s life too late, witnesses her unexpected and irreversible decline.

From the gifted Julie Otsuka comes an exceptional new novel, both playful and emotionally rich, written in a style that is uniquely her own. The Swimmers won the American Library Association’s 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, honored as the nation’s best novel published for adults in the previous year. This third novel is her first set in the present, and is the most personal that she has written, as it’s based on her own family history.

Writing in Bookpage, Laura Sackton calls The Swimmers “a quiet and startling masterpiece about memory, aging and the indelible experiences that define a life” in Otsuka’s “familiar, effortlessly musical prose … This is not a simple, orderly, linear novel. It unfolds in a messy chorus of contradictory, unpredictable voices that each bring something different to the whole … Funny, moving and composed of sentences that read like small poems, The Swimmers is a remarkable novel from a writer with an unparalleled talent for capturing the stuff of the world with nuance, grace and tenderness.”

Library Journal Reviewer Shirley Quan describes The Swimmers as “introspective … Otsuka’s spare, dreamlike writing offers readers a deeply touching exploration of the impact on Alice’s Japanese American family (particularly her daughter) of caring for a loved one with dementia … Otsuka is noteworthy for her skilled storytelling and her ability to immerse readers in her characters’ emotional journeys. Essential reading for those already familiar with her work.”

Stephen Sposato, chair of the selection committee for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence, commented “Julie Otsuka proves herself a master of narrative voice, thrillingly balancing the incredible vitality of community life with the myriad challenges faced by individuals and families within that community.” In ALA’s Booklist, Terry Hong praises the novel as an “elegiac, devastating masterpiece.”

I always start from a point of not knowing. I’m very process-oriented. That’s how I was when I was sculpting and painting too. I like being in the middle of something big and messy and inchoate. I like slowly giving things form, but I don’t start from a place of a clear idea. I never outline. I don’t know at all where I’m going to end up.

Julie Otsuka was born in 1962 in Palo Alto, California, into a Japanese – American family. She studied art at Yale University, and later earned an MFA from Columbia University. She worked as an artist for a number of years before publishing her first fiction.

She has written short stories and three critically acclaimed novels: When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), The Buddha in the Attic (2011), and The Swimmers (2022), and has been awarded a number of literary prizes in the United States and around the world. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Her website is

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