Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Ten Books For Book Clubs

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Books For Book Clubs".

Some of the books on this list are books I've actually read as part of a book discussion group. All of them have topics that would be good for discussion. Even if it is a book that your book group ends up hating, there will still be plenty to discuss. 

I've learned that it is better to look for books with complicated themes, conflicted characters, or difficult situations over books that are just fun to read (like Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic-an epic fail as a book discussion pick and I chose it!). The worst kind of book discussion is one where the members just say "it was a good book" but can't really find anything worth discussing about it.

1. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Girl in Translation was a huge hit with my current book groups. They all loved the book and found plenty to say about Kim, her tough situation, and her horrible Aunt Paula. Themes and topics we discussed: parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, immigration, poverty, sweatshops, duty to your family, education

2. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult's books are always great for discussion. I was in a group that discussed this book about school shootings and bullying and we all thought it was a riveting book. What makes Picoult's books perfect for book groups is that she usually makes the reader think about both sides to a story, there is usually plenty of drama and conflicted characters. In addition to this one, My Sister's Keeper and Sing You Home would also be good picks.

3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I love to read books set in other countries so my book group picks tend to feature other cultures. This very popular book is what I'd call "book club gold". It will provoke strong emotions in the reader. Another great pick especially for women's book groups is A Thousand Splendid Suns which looks at the lives of women in Afghanistan.

4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

While none of my book groups have discussed this book yet, I think Between Shades of Gray would be great for discussion because of the characters, the difficult choices they face, and the historical significance. Though it is a YA book I think it would have tremendous crossover appeal.

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Though I haven't participated in a book discussion with this book (too many holds on library copies!) The Help is another book I'd consider "book club gold".  I know the discussion would certainly be popular. 

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book would provoke such great discussions and with more and more adults finally picking up the series I hope to someday do a book discussion of The Hunger Games. Unfortunately there are so many holds on library copies that I think I'd have to purchase multiple copies of the book just for the discussion group.

7. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

While this was not one of my favorite books, the controversial story would be great for discussion. It would certainly provoke strong reactions from the readers. 

8. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

This is such a popular book with book discussion groups that it may be awhile before my groups will be able to read it. I loved Major Pettigrew's dry humor but what makes for good discussion is the relationship between Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali as well as the theme of change vs. tradition.

9. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I've read this with two of the book discussion groups I've belonged to over the years. It is one of my favorites. Themes for discussion: sisterhood, what defines a family, love vs. duty

10. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill

This book does not get a lot of attention in the States but it would be perfect for discussion as it is set here. The novel takes a look at the history of slavery through the eyes of a young girl who is captured from her village in Africa and sold to a Southern plantation. It can be pretty dark reading at times but is ultimately inspiring and uplifting.


  1. I really wish I could have experienced The Kite Runner with a reading group. Also, I'm hoping to get to Between Shades of Grey this year!

  2. I love this list! You have several that are still on my TBR.

    -FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews
    My Top Ten...

  3. all of these sound like really awesome books. I have to agree with The Kite Runner! That book can definitely keep the conversation running.


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