Okay! So, you’ve got your group, you’ve selected your host/space, and you’re choosing your book. (If you haven’t read my intro post to hosting a book club, read here first).

So! What type of book? I think one mistake most beginning book clubbers make is to just randomly choose one that’s on the on the end cap at Target. Now, let me be clear – there is NOTHING wrong with those books. Many times, they are well-written, best-selling, fast-paced who-dunnits or light, beach read rom-coms, which are fun and addicting. However, sometimes these genre-type books are not necessarily the best picks for Book Clubs, because, after discussing how hot the main guy/girl is, or how you didn’t see the ending coming, with the nanny actually being the killer, your discussion is basically over.

If you want a book you can discuss at a deeper level, you need to look at books that make you, as a reader, think, “what would I do in this situation?” There are no right and wrong answers and your group members will enjoy sharing their own opinions and feelings, and maybe find themselves challenged by points brought up by the story or their fellow book-clubbers. For those who read to expand their minds and their horizons, these thinking-type books provide fertile ground for in-depth discussions.

A few examples of books that made me think:

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig – A story about a young woman who feels her life is meaningless and decides to commit suicide. However, she ends up in The Midnight Library, where her old junior high librarian explains all the books on the shelves are her Books of Regrets, which she has the option of opening and experiencing how her life would have been different. Each one of us has those niggling thoughts about, ‘what if I had taken that job/said yes to that guy/moved in with that woman/told my boss to stuff it?’ Great fodder for conversation and self-reflection.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick – In this novel, every person in the world receives a length of string, which indicates how long their life will be. We see how different characters live or change their lives according to their string’s length. If you had a short string, how would you live your life differently? What about if you had a long string and the person you were about to marry had a short string? Talk about a conversation starter! You may have to kick people out of your house at the end of the night, or cut off the wine!

Pretty much any WWII book in which people are hiding those sought by the German SS make wonderful Book Club books. I think about these people a lot – would I, could I, have put my children at risk in order to save others? What a difficult, heartbreaking decision. Books like Sophie’s Choice, The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Whispering Town, The Pianist, Sarah’s Key, The Light in Hidden Places, and, of course, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, will keep you thinking long after your meeting is over.

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood is fraught with questions about love and family, and bound to spark a very lively discussion among group members. This one made me uncomfortable in all the right ways, forcing me to question my belief in people and their motivations. Lots of gray area to debate!

I hope this list has helped you discover a book your club will enjoy getting into the weeds with, if that is their cuppa.

If not, stay tuned for a post on a different type of Book Club – including one of my favorite subjects – foooooooooood.


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