Monday, January 26, 2015

Ten Books I'd Love to Read (or Have Read) With My Book Club(s)

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I didn't mean to take a long break there, but it turns out taking care of a baby takes up lots of time ;) Also I went out of town last weekend. Also I got sick. So, you know, life.

This week's topic is books I would love to read with my book club. As I've mentioned, I belong to multiple book clubs, each with a different focus. I'll share some books that my book clubs have read, some that I've suggested for future reads should my book clubs choose to vote to read them, and others that I think would be good for discussion.

1. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Two of my book clubs have read this, although I missed the second one's discussion because I was sick. Not only is it an excellent book, but the variety of stories that interweave to make up this book mean that it's likely there will be something that resonates with each person. There are a lot of great themes to discuss: family, promises, class and privilege, culture.

2. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
I haven't read this in a long time, but I loved it and I bet it would be great for discussion. It takes place in a small town at the turn of the 20th century, and the characters have interesting and complex relationships that would be wonderful to talk about.

3. "Does Jesus Really Love Me?" by Jeff Chu
This is a journalistic exploration of the many ways people have handled the intersections of faith and sexual orientation, from ex-gay therapy to celibacy, from mixed-orientation marriage to same-sex marriage. Chu manages to be (mostly) nonjudgmental, even when interviewing someone from Westboro Baptist, and this book helped me and the members of my book club be more open-minded to different people's life choices.

4. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
This is another favorite of mine somewhat similar to Cold Sassy Tree. It deals with some darker subjects (animal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse), but it's actually a really heartwarming (and heartbreaking) story. I want to reread it, but I'd love to have other people to help process all the emotions this time around.

5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
One of best books I read in 2014, this is a compelling story, plus one of the main characters is based on a historical figure (Sarah Grimké). The characters' choices would make for a great discussion.

6. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This is my favorite book, and two of my book clubs have read and enjoyed this book on my recommendation. A surprising number of people felt deeply connected to the characters for one reason or other, and you can talk both about the characters' various decisions and about the larger themes permeating the book related to trust and family.

7. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
I don't think anyone in my book club had heard of this book before, but they all said they liked it after we read it on my recommendation. Through Marcelo's experiences as someone who struggles with social cues, the reader is forced to question why we have certain unspoken social expectations, and whether doing the right thing is always as obvious as we like to think it is.

8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This is another book that deals with heavy subject matter — the narrator stopped talking after a terrible thing happened to her — but it is rich with opportunities for good conversation. Anderson's ability to steep the book in symbolism without it ever being heavy-handed was amazing to me. I'd love to reread this with a book club.

9. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
This was originally recommended to me by someone in one of my book clubs. I've shared my love for this book previously on here and have recommended it to more than one of my book clubs, but we've yet to read it as a group. After the Slate Audio Book Club had a great discussion about it, I'm sure it would be good fodder for any book club.

10. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Another favorite of 2014, this book would be excellent to read with my book club that's made up of women in their 20s and 30s. Moriarty is the master of capturing the drama of everyday life, and this book deals largely with how relationships (marriage, friendships, family) develop over time, not always for the best. Big Little Lies would probably be great as well, but I'd recommend this one for discussion first.

What books should I recommend to my book clubs next?

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  1. Your first title looks like a fun one for a book club!

  2. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if not for book club because Hosseini's other books are so, so dark, but I found this one much more manageable and really enjoyed the story.

  3. These all sound like excellent choices! Several on your list are books I would like to read. All of them really. LOL The only one I have read on your list is Speak. Such an amazing and powerful book. It is such an important book that has personal significance to me.

  4. Always happy to contribute to a fellow reader's to-read list! :)

  5. Brilliant list! I think all of these books would lend to some very interesting discussions.

  6. All these books are so thought provoking and would be so interesting to discuss. I added Speak to my tbr it sounds amazing!

  7. Although I haven't read it yet, Speak would definitely make for a good discussion. Great list! :)

  8. Great List! Check out my Top Ten Tuesday!

  9. I loved Speak and I really need to read more of Hosseini. I have only read two of his. I accidentally did next week's post on accident, but still check it out please. mine's here