Best Titles for Book Reading Clubs
Book clubs are great, but sometimes agreeing on titles can be a challenge. You want to choose a title that’s not too new or else not everyone can get a copy or it’ll be the most expensive hardback in the bookstore. Here’s a list of titles that are still fresh and relevant but also ones that your book reading club will be able to find secondhand or from the library.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by the omniscient character of Death himself and taking place during World War II, this award-winning gem is a great story that instantly appeals to many reading tastes and levels. It’s intended for a young adult readership, so Zusak takes care to make the story easy to follow and fun to read while also throwing in some truly breathtaking prose.
This story will transport you to another world with its irresistible characterization, plot, and even a few illustrations that cleverly relate to the story. The narrator talks directly to the reader, making it seem personal – with an edge of the uncanny – as he describes the life of a little girl who lived in Germany during one of the most horrific wars of all time.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
A surprise favorite, Deathless developed a bit of a cult following on sites such as Goodreads while totally bypassing the mainstream media. Books such as these are perfect for book club discussions, having elements that are likely to be loved by some and despised by others. The novel has a vintage feel to it, basing its story on a Russian folklore character, an evil man who can never die. Though told through Valente’s unique perspective, the deathless man is not quite so evil. The story follows the life of Marya Morevna, a clever girl who grows up to encounter things of legend amidst lies, secrecy, and magical quests. This story has some delicious descriptions of Russian delicacies for those who enjoy books that make you hungry. For those who have heard of The Tiger’s Wife, another popular book club choice, Deathless has some interesting similarities and can be a great follow-up.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Written from the perspective of an autistic child with a gift for mathematics and a fondness for dogs, this story could be classified as a murder mystery. You will have never read anything like this unique narrative where Christopher, our main character, walks the reader through every single choice he makes. Some are questionable to those who have a more conventional thought process, but this character does not cease to amaze and surprise when put to some difficult tests. A great choice for book clubs that enjoy lively discussion.
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
A difficult book for many, this book grapples with life, death, drug abuse, and music in a very controversial way. Intended for teenage readers, this story is about an obese young man who finds nothing but challenges wherever he turns. The opening scene is a morbidly comedic meditation on suicide as the book’s main character, Troy, decides not to throw himself in front of a subway train for the sole reason that someone out there might find the situation humorous. Edged with a love for punk rock music – add in a character with more than a little resemblance to music legend Kurt Cobain – and you have a story about a kid with no hope who finds a place where he can be himself.
To get the conversation going, focus on how people felt about the characters and whether they agreed with the choices they made. Sometimes people absolutely hate a character or their choices, but it makes for great book club reading! Pose some hypothetical questions about what your group thought should have happened or what the worse case scenarios could be. A great conversation starter for book clubs is to compare the current book to a book that your group has read in the past.
What is the best book you have ever read at a book club?