Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Book Club Picks

Focus for this List: It seems to me that there is a special flavor to books chosen by book clubs. They tend to be complex, depressing, and bogged down in reality. That said, I do understand that if the primary reaction to a book is, "Wow, what a fabulous book!  What else has the author written?" then there may not be much to discuss. Thus, this list is my take on books that provoke discussion, while also being good reads!  PS: I tend not to like depressing, thus, most of these books are a bit more upbeat!

1.  Children No More by Mark Van Name
Externally, this is about the partnership between a hero and his hyper-intelligent assault vehicle. (Yes, it's great science-fiction.) Internally, however, this is a heart-wrenching story about the rehabilitation of children who are forced to become soldiers. Another reason to read this with a book club? Mark is donating ALL the profits from ALL the sales of this book (regardless of format) to Falling Whistles, a charity that focuses on rehabilitating and reintegrating child soldiers. Look HERE for more details. Help save children while enjoying a good story.

I have almost every novel Jodi Picoult has written, and they've all kept me up late, and drained me of tears, many, many times. She has a knack for really exploring an ethical issue, from so many different perspectives. Thus, her novels are ideal for book clubs because there is so much to discuss. This particular book of hers is one that had me up late thinking hard about belief, and trying to decide who in the book I did believe. It's a fascinating book and I think you'll enjoy discussing it with friends.

I didn't think I was going to like this book, I really didn't. Then this memoir grabbed me by the heart and wouldn't let go. The hype on this one is right -- go ahead and enjoy!  I just bought the sequel, and will let you know what I think!

After hearing so many of my book club's members rave about how wonderful this book is, I decided that hey, $4 for the Kindle version wasn't too much to pay. It was fabulous. 1930s circuses, romance, danger, intrigue, historical details, and the best elephant in fiction today. Surprisingly enough, it's also a moving examination of what it is to be old. So, I know this isn't a radically different suggestion for a book club read, but it is a good one! 

When word of this book first started circulating, I assumed it was about anorexia. Wow, was I wrong! Instead, it's my new favorite dystopia, which comments directly on our current culture of reality shows, and the wide divide between the haves and the have-nots. It's thought provoking, and each book in the trilogy kept me glued to the pages well into the morning hours.  There is a LOT to discuss here, and I find myself wandering around, wanting to talk to others who've read it -- a sure sign of a good book-club book! 


This fascinating and well-written book is a summation of all the crazy odd experiments that the author has written about in his articles and other books, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, and The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. This amusing book is particularly easy to read in chunks, and leads to some interesting discussions.

I've been raving about how amazing this book is for years now. What delights me is how many people come back from having read it, raving themselves about what an interesting and helpful book it is. Granted, there are some really technical bits, but then again, don't book clubs delight in books with difficult bits? That said, the author's journalistic background shows in the fabulous (and true) stories that he tells as ways of making his point. 

It's been a while since I read this one, but I do remember it being a very thoughtful examination of what makes up true hope, and how it can affect you. I gave a copy to a friend who is a minister, and she said it was just full of sermon illustrations. Give it a look!

9.  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (or Blink, or Outliers, if you've already read that one!)
Malcolm Gladwell has a very engaging way of writing about ideas by telling stories. Best of all, these books will change the way you think -- or the way you think about thinking -- and you'll find yourself quoting his stories at parties for years to come. 

I've decided that this fellow is one of my new favorite authors. His newest book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, was particularly thought provoking as my husband and I are both teachers.  Either of these books would make great book club choices. One focuses on telling stories from interviews with various people about what makes up their families. The answers will broaden your understanding of the possibilities and make you reexamine your own family relationships.  The other, NurtureShock, focuses on collating and summarizing all of the most recent discoveries in the field of child development. Most of the research I'd already heard of, as it was announced, but having it all put together in context was amazingly helpful, and helped me rethink teenage arguing, among other things! Check out nurtureshock.com for essays & other tidbits from the book. 

So, what's YOUR favorite book-club pick?


  1. So many good books here! I read The Year of Living Biblically and really enjoyed it, I should definitely read more of his. The next book on my list is One Day by David Nicholls. I think it sounds good, we'll see if it really is. :-) Thanks for linking up!

  2. Hi, found you from Ten on Tuesday.....and I love books and lists! So now I have to add the Tipping Point to my list to read and Water for Elephants based on your descriptions. And I have felt the same way regarding Eat, Pray, Love. I just can't bring myself to read it, in my mind it seems predictable. But maybe I will give it a try down the road....