BOOK CLUB BOOKS
Book club books can sometimes be hard to pick. Not only are there so many books out there but some book clubs have rules and restrictions. There are a number of questions you have to ask when selecting a book club book.
Can you pick a new release?
Do you pick a classic?
Are certain genres no-nos?
The book club that I’m part of* are very free and open with the books that we pick. The way in which we make selections is that each month, one member is in charge of picking the book. I find that this is a really nice way of picking books as it makes sure that every once and a while, you get a chance to read a book you want to read. Additionally, if the book is hard to find, you have a month to track down a copy.
The below are suggestions for books that are great for books clubs. There could be a number of reasons why they’re on the list, they could be classics, they could be polarising, or they could just be fun to talk about.
10. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia – the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.
In my experience The Light Between Oceans is a polarising book. People either love it or hate it. Without going into too much detail, there are a few moral grey ares that the story encounters. The book has the potential to have such great discussions between book club members as you can talk about how the book made you feel, and your thoughts on characters actions.
9. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon.
Grady Tripp is a pot-bellied, pot-smoking, over-sexed, aging novelist, struggling to finish the long-awaited follow-up to his award-winning novel. He teaches creative writing at a Pittsburgh college while battling with his 2000-page masterpiece, Wonder Boys.
I’m a bit biased by putting this book on the list, it’s a favourite of mine. The main reason I have the book on the list is that it is very fun and entertaining. The book is definitely a black humour novel and the main character will have people talking as they discuss his life decisions. Tripp is a very strong narrator and each twist and turn of the book will have book club members either captivated or rolling their eyes.
8. Re-read a favourite.
Challenge your book club to re-read a favourite book from their childhood.
Rather than a typical book selection, let your members decide what book they want to read. Letting members pick a childhood favourite, really opens up the topics of discussion. You can have each person answer the questions: What is the book? Why was it your favourite? How did it affect your life? And lastly how did you feel while re-reading it?
7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
[Christopher John Francis Boone] lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbour’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
Once again, this is a challenging read. The book is written from the perspective of an autistic teenager, which means that the typical writing style of novels is not followed. The book is incredibly different in how it is formatted and how the narrator experiences ‘normal’ activities. The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time is a brilliant selection for book clubs as if not only challenges you as you read the story, but it gives you a new perspective on autism.
6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
While this book my be a tad long for a book club selection, it is very much worth it. The Princess Bride is arguably a modern classic and as such, there will be a mix of opinions. While some people may find the book very enjoyable, others may find it difficult to understand and at times alienating as the book switches between story lines. The book has the added bonus of having a film adaption, so if the book does prove too long or difficult, members can always chat about Cary Elwes ❤
5. Try a poetry book.
Whether you decide to read any book by a certain author, or if you select a book in particular, there will be very different readings. Poetry is incredibly subjective, so each person will experience the poems in different ways. Due to the varied nature of poetry, you could potentially suggest that book club members select one or two of their favourite poems and discuss why the poems struck a chord with them. You may even find that discussions focus on the technical aspects such as the poets writing style and use of rhyme and metre.
4. The Martian by Andy Weir.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
Who said book club books can’t be fun? The Martian, despite being a survival story, is full of good humour and laugh out loud hi-jinks. Put simply, and perhaps a with a tonne of bias, The Martian is an enjoyable book. When my book club discussed the book, it quickly turned into us raving about our favourite parts and laughing each time we remembered moments. If the book wasn’t for everyone, then you can always discuss and compare the film and the book.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love. Hilarious, flamboyant, heart-breaking and full of ingenious word play, Lolita is an immaculate, unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.
While this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it is a classic. I am not going to lie, you will have people hating this book, all for good reasons as the content of the novel is quite terrible. Do not be quick to judge those people who don’t have as strong feelings of dislike though, the book is beautifully written. There can be such a discussion here about how something so terrible can be so beautiful.
2. Mystery books.
Each member brings in either a book or a book suggestion of a book they love. The books are hidden and either chosen randomly or given out as a lucky dip. Whatever book you receive, you read.
I’ve added another idea that isn’t necessarily a book. The mystery book is a great way to get people talking and trying new things. I would recommend getting people to give a brief description about the book they read and then a run down on what they thought. The conversations are great as not only does the person who read the book get a say, but the person who recommended it gets to say why they picked the book and then their opinion.
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, three women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
I have placed this book at number one because at the library I work at, it is the most requested book club kit. Which has to say something about the content of the book as we have over 60 kits available. The book can have a mixed reaction from people; it could come off as pandering, it could be a revelation, or it could be an uncomfortable mix of both. I believe that the book is so popular because it is thought provoking, it makes you stop and think.
*I am proud to say that my book club has been operating for four years!
I will say that book clubs themselves are sometimes tough to keep up with and that it can be tough to make time to read the selected books. However, I have found my book club to be incredibly rewarding! If you’re thinking of starting a book club I would really recommend it!
What did you think of the list, are there any obvious books that I have missed? Are there books that you don’t think deserve to be there? Do you have any suggestions for fun and different book club topics? Let me know 🙂