When I was newly married I started a book club. I thought it would be a great way to socialize, get book recommendations, and eat fancy desserts. Because if there’s anything I love as much as a book recommendation, it’s a fancy dessert.
At the first meeting approximately 386 people showed up. We sat on my super ugly couch in my super ugly first apartment and ate crepes that were super ugly but full of Nutella and whipped cream and were therefore deemed a success. The first book we chose was The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. It was an excellent first choice.
At the second meeting a more reasonable 279 people showed up. It was held at a much cuter (and cleaner) apartment and we ate a much cuter dessert that was also very delicious. I looked up a reader’s discussion guide online and we talked about what we’d loved about the book. (The characters! The important themes!) It was a great discussion and we made plans to meet the following month.
[Unfortunately, about 270 of our book club members formally resigned that night. They were super interested in the socializing and the fancy desserts, but it had just come to their attention that the remaining nine of us planned to actually discuss books at our book club meetings.]
That was four years ago. And book club is still one of my most favorite nights of the month. We’ve read many, many books and interestingly, I’ve found that not all good/enjoyable books make good book club books. A good book club book has to be not only good/enjoyable, it has to prompt discussion. Otherwise you’re going to spend 5 minutes exchanging pleasantries about how lovely the book was and then spend the rest of the night gossiping about where your super hot 6th grade teacher ended up. (She really was super hot, you should have seen her do the Macarena.)
Unfortunately my memory is on par with a goldfish’s, but I’ve pulled together a year’s worth of book club books that I remember inciting interesting discussion and general admiration:
JANUARY: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. Fascinating, and perfect for kicking off your superhero resolutions.
FEBRUARY: Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden. An old one, but so incredibly engaging. One of those stories that stays with you, and the story and culture made for a great discussion.
MARCH: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We read this one then watched the movie. Loved it both ways!
APRIL: Between Friends, by Kristy Kiernan. We thought this was just going to be a light read but ended up having one of our best discussions to date.
MAY: The Female Brain, by Louann Brizendine, MD. Step by step look at how our brains form then function. Very interesting and great to talk about with a a group of women.
JUNE: Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. Our club is a big fan of historical fiction–meaning books based on people and actual events but with some creative liberties. The (true) ending to this story blew our minds.
JULY: The Piano Teacher, by Janice Y.K. Lee. Very interesting setting.
AUGUST: Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlaine. Great read with tons of social issues to discuss.
SEPTEMBER: A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel. Laugh out loud memoir. A delight and fun to discuss.
OCTOBER: Second Glance, by Jodi Picoult. Something spooky for Halloween.
NOVEMBER: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This book is an experience.
DECEMBER: Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris. This is a (hilarious) collection of essays/short stories, and we actually read it two Decembers in a row. One year we got a hold of an audio version and listened to our favorite story: “Dinah, The Christmas Whore.” If that title doesn’t make you laugh I simply can’t help you.