The members of our book club rotate the responsibility for selecting titles. This gives us a broad range of reading material, including non-fiction and fiction. Our most recent choice was one I didn’t enjoy much, though I recognized its merits, and our group had a good exchange of views. With this in mind, I gave thought to why certain books stimulate discussions. Certainly the work has to be more than an entertaining story. It doesn’t have to be controversial, but it should touch on themes or subjects that spark dialogue.
Following is a list of titles, in no particular order, I have read in the past couple of years that would make excellent book club selections:
The Collective by Don Lee. A well-written novel about Korean-Americans that raises issues of racial identity.
Being Mortal by Atui Gawande. A difficult read for those of us who would rather not think about death (which is probably most of us) but a strong reminder that we should. This one we read in our book club. An excellent discussion followed.
A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros. An autobiography. Not only is Cisneros an accomplished wordsmith, she is opinionated about politics, family relations, and women’s issues.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. A novel about euthanasia.
Mexican Enough by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. Non-fiction. There is a lot here about immigration, economics, and culture, to spur conversation.
My Antonia by Willa Cather. A classic novel that deals with the subject of immigrants, timely for today’s readers.
The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld. She is a good novelist. Though this is not her best work (that is American Wife, in my opinion), it is a good study of a neurotic, immature young woman. Readers will either like or dislike this story, but they will want to talk about it.
The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. On the surface this novel might seem like chick-lit, but it is so much more.
Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet. One of my favorite 2015 reads. It’s about the challenges of coming-of-age as a bicultural woman.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. It’s a hefty book, but there’s a reason it is a classic. There are many themes here, including truth and justice and keeping one’s dreams alive.
Of course, if one is a book club leader and charged with selecting the material, it’s wise to be aware of your members’ preferences. It might be best not to choose controversial material (e.g. euthanasia) if the group seems to favor lighter fare.