Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This week's Top Ten from The Broke and the Bookish asks for the Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks. A good choice for a book club is not just a good book. It needs to be one that sparks discussion and leaves you with some questions. If people come away from the book with varying reactions, that’s even better. I decided to list books my book club has actually read and had great discussions about.

1) The Bell Jar – Nothing gets book clubs talking like depression, women’s role in past decades and attempted suicide.

2) Middlesex – I read this years ago, but my book club is discussing it in a few months. The book is so funny, but it’s also epic. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks.

3) Loving Frank – Reading a book that blends fiction and history leads to good talks about what is and isn’t factually in the story.

4) Blame – This is a strange book. It’s about a woman who wakes up after a night of drinking to find out she killed someone while driving drunk. I didn’t love it, but it dealt with so many issues, the discussion was great.

5) April 1865: The Month That Saved America – Civil War details at their best. Everyone in my club loved this one and we had fun talking about the aspects of the war we didn’t know before reading this.

6) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – I like it when book club encourages me to pick up something I might not have read. This nonfiction book about cells and science doesn’t sound appealing at first, but it was wonderful.

7) Still Alice – If you’ve ever had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s this isn’t an easy book to read, but it’s a powerful one.

8) A Classic We’ve read All the President’s Men, Pride and Prejudice and others. I’ve found that I always gain new insights into these books when I discuss them with a group. Book clubs don’t have to pick the latest hit to have a good club.

9) We Need to Talk About Kevin – This book gets a strong reaction (good or bad) from everyone who reads it. I didn’t read this one with my book club, but I think it would be a great choice to add to our list in the future.

10) Books you aren’t emotionally attached to. My final choices isn’t a book, it’s just a general idea. I think it’s a bad idea to have your book club read and discuss a book you’re devoted to. Mine read The History of Love at my recommendation and they hated it. I love that book, so it was probably a bad idea to suggest it.

Image from here.

22 comments:

Nymeth said...

#10 is wise advice, yes. My rational side is completely fine with the idea that not everyone will love the books I love, and knows that they world would be boring if they did. But sometimes recommending a book to someone and having them hate it makes me want to go hide in a hole :P

Jillian said...

I most definitely agree with 1, 2, and 7. I've read 3, but didn't like it as much. I guess I can see it being a good book club pick since I hear mixed reviews about it!

I can't wait to read 9. I just put it on hold at the library! I'm a little scared yet excited to read it.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I'm also so very careful about my recommendations. I think that in four years we've only read two that I chose: Room and The Hare with the Amber Eyes.

Fortunately they were all a success. I'd feel bad about choosing something that wasn't loved :(

Other books that worked really well in our group: Gone With the Wind (a summer read, when we usually go for a mammoth), The Brontes (biography), King Leopold's Ghost (non-fiction), The Mitford Girls (non-fiction).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Nymeth - Exactly. When I loan or recommend books to people I always make a point of saying it's no problem if they don't like it, books are so personal! But when the whole book club doesn't like it, the meeting just turns into an attack, picking apart the book you love. It's different.

Jillian - I actually wasn't the biggest fan of that book either, it was ok, but not a favorite. But my bookclub discussion of it was fascinating! We got into talking about learning about history through fiction and other things. Oh, and Kevin is so intense! I can't wait to hear what you think.

Alex - Oh, Room would be a great one! I may suggest GWTW for our group next year. We always pick on classic and that would be a fun one.

FABR Steph said...

Great unique list. Thank you for your club suggestions.

-FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews
My Top Ten...

Sandy Nawrot said...

My book clubs have read several of these, and would totally agree with your last bit of advice. I can get pretty emotional when I love a book and someone else attacks it.

nea barabea said...

Great list!! Could you tell me the author of Middlesex? This book seems very interesting! :) Thanks so much for sharing ;)

Brenna said...

I'm totally with you on Middlesex and The Bell Jar. I also need to read We Need to Talk About Kevin. I loved The Post-Birthday world and this one sounds like it's on par, albeit heavier in subject matter.

Brenna said...

I just saw you mentioned your book club hated The History of Love - I title I put on my list today ;) Needless to say I didn't read it for a book club first.

Kailana said...

Oh discussing Middlesex at book club would be lots of fun!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I try not too, but sometimes it's hard to hear a whole group hates the book you love!

nea barabea - Absolutely, it's Jeffrey Eugenides. It's wonderful!

Brenna - I didn't read History of Love for book club either. I had already read it and loved it, so I suggested it. They all hated it!

Kailana - I know, there's so much in that one. I think it will be a good meeting.

Amanda said...

I haven't read any of these! But 10 is probably a good idea. It's hard when people hate books you love!

I see you're reading Anna and the French Kiss! I hope you love it, I know I did!

Here's my Top Ten

Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

I definitely made the mistake once, years ago, of recommending one of my favourite books to the book club I was in at the time; no else enjoyed it like I'd hoped or even really got it, and I realised my mistake. Better to go with a book you've never read and have no expectations of, or a book you weren't that keen on reading to begin with. That club tended to go with books someone had read and loved.

I loved Middlesex, but I read it so long ago now I've forgotten much of it. One day I'll have the time to re-read it!

This is the second list I've seen The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks today; I've never heard of it before but now I'm definitely curious! I've had We Need to Talk About Kevin for years and still haven't got around to it, ugh.

Here's my list.

Kristi said...

I have only read one from your list, aside from the classics you mentioned. I agree that it's best not to recommend books with which you really have an emotional attachment. It's so heartbreaking if they don't like it. I have a difficult time even recommending my absolute favorite books for the same reason.

Jenners said...

Great list and wonderful suggestions. It is true that you should avoid books you feel everyone should love and then have to face when they don't love it. That would be hard.

Shane Marie said...

I also loved The History of Love!! Your book club is crazy ;)

Kary said...

New follower! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is on my tbr list! Here is my list if you'd like to follow back: http://theonceandfuturelibrarian.blogspot.com/2012/01/top-ten-tuesday-book-club-selections.html

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

How have I missed April 1865?! I loved (almost) everything you listed, so I definitely need to add this one to my TBR.

Here is my Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks. I hope you will stop by!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amanda - I'm really enjoying Anna and I needed the mental break after Moby Dick.

Shannon - Immortal Life is good, but Kevin really blew me away. I hpoe you read it!

Kristi - Sometimes I do too, because you have no idea if people will feel the same way about them.

Jenners - Yes, I think I like reading new books over suggesting ones I've already read.

Shane Marie - Me too, that one broke my heart.

Kary - I hope you enjoy Immortal if you read it.

Deb Nance - It has a good balance between anecdotes and facts about the Civil War.

Suey said...

Regarding your last item, I agree. I felt the same way about The Kite Runner. I thought it was amazing and my book club ripped it to shreds! I was floored! But it was quite eye opening too. Very interesting experience.

Still, it's a hard rule to live by when you love a book so so much!

Care said...

True, when you rec a book that you love, it is scary to think they will hate it. Luckily for me, when The Book Thief came up, everyone loved it.

I imagine in my club that only a few would finish We Need to Talk About Kevin. Since most work at the high school!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Suey - It's good for me to remember how different everyone's tastes in books are, but sometimes I am so surprised by people's responses!

Care - Oh man, I can't imagine reading Kevin if I worked in a high school. I'm so glad everyone loved The Book Thief. That's one that I don't think I could even suggest because I'd be so worried they wouldn't like it.