Books

25 great book club books

What makes a good book club book? Some might say a controversial read is best for lively discussion, while others prefer to keep the peace with an all around crowd pleaser. We think the best book club books are the ones you keep thinking about long after you've turned the last page - the ones that make you ask every friend and family member, "Have you read...?" just so you can talk about it.

For this list of great book club books, we've selected the ones we couldn't put down, the ones that made us text our bookish friends, and the ones we still think about today. You'll find mostly modern literary fiction, a few memoirs, and a female-forward author roster and while there is only one repeat author on the list (Kazuo Ishiguro) we could have easily included anything and everything by Sally Rooney, Yaa Gyasi, or Celest Ng.

Whether you're in search of your next book club read or just looking for a great book, here are 25 books worth talking about.

Book club fiction

By Brit Bennett
The story of twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?
By Naima Coster
A community in the Piedmont of North Carolina rises in outrage as a county initiative draws students from the largely Black east side of town into predominantly white high schools on the west. For two students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a chain of events that will tie their two families together in unexpected ways over the next 20 years.
By Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation, something life changing begins. A story of mutual fascination, friendship and love.
By Kazuo Ishiguro
A thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities. Klara and the Sun explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
By Margaret Atwood
In a dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. A totalitarian regime enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of the regime's commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive.
By Jeffrey Eugenides
The story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before moving to suburban Grosse Pointe. Calliope is not like other girls, and to understand why she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction.
By Anthony Doerr
The deeply moving story about a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and a German boy, Werner Pfennig, whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
By Celeste Ng
An exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
By Abigail Dean
What begins as a propulsive tale of escape and survival becomes a gripping psychological family story about the shifting alliances and betrayals of sibling relationships. Who have each of these siblings become? An absorbing and psychologically immersive novel about a young girl who escapes captivity, but not the secrets that shadow the rest of her life.
By Alexandra Andrews
Florence Darrow is a low-level publishing employee who believes that she's destined to be a famous writer. When she stumbles into a job as the assistant to the brilliant, enigmatic novelist known as Maud Dixon (whose true identity is a secret) it appears that the universe is finally providing Florence’s big chance. Taut, twisty, and viciously entertaining, this is a stylish psychological thriller about how far into the darkness you’re willing to go to claim the life you always wanted.
By Yaa Gyasi
Two half sisters are born into different villages in Ghana, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. This extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
By Esi Edugyan
Eleven-year-old Wash, a field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is initially terrified when he is chosen as the manservant of his master’s brother. To his surprise, however, the eccentric man turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, they must abandon everything and flee together. Their travels will tear them apart, propelling Wash ever farther across the globe in search of his true self.
By Jeanine Cummins
Forced to flee their home in Acapulco, Mexico Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves riding la bestia - trains that make their way north toward the United States. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
By Mary Beth Keane
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie NYPD cops, are neighbors in the suburbs. What happens behind closed doors in both houses - the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come. Heartbreaking and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes is a gorgeous and generous portrait of the daily intimacies of marriage and the power of forgiveness.
By Sophie Mackintosh
King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters. Here on his island, women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. But when King disappears and two men and a boy wash ashore, the sisters’ world begins to unravel.
By Garth Risk Hallberg
New York City, 1976. A cast of complicated characters, and a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve. An unforgettable novel about love and betrayal and forgiveness, about art and truth and rock ’n’ roll, about what people need from each other in order to live, and about what makes the living worth doing in the first place.
By Louise Erdrich
A startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event. A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, this novel is a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.
By Gabriel Tallent
Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At 14, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school and to her life with her father. Then Turtle meets Jacob, and for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable.
By Stephanie Danler
Newly arrived in New York City, Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants.
By Ashley Audrain
In the thick of motherhood's exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter - she doesn't behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe's head? Her husband, Fox, says she's imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.
By Kazuo Ishiguro
As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy reconnects with Ruth and Tommy and is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special.

Book club memoirs

By Tara Westover
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education. When her brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her to Harvard and to Cambridge University.
By Jessica Valenti
Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.
By Jeanette Walls
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
By Chanel Miller
Chanel Miller was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with her victim impact statement following the sentencing of her attacker, Brock Turner. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

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