In the June 2018 newsletter we asked for book suggestions for a book club.

Here are the responses:

Chris: Really enjoyed learning about books that your readers found meaningful when they were young. As for this month’s question, I’m in a book club and get a lot out of it. It’s always interesting to see how people react to the book we’re discussing each month. We vote on a list of books to see which ones we want to read over the year (we all contributed to the list). It’s important that the books not be super long and also that they’re available in the library (or e-library) or a used bookstore as not everyone can buy new books each month. It’s nice to have a mix of genres as well as fiction and nonfiction to choose from. We’re going to discuss “Educated” by Tara Westover this month and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a fascinating story and should inspire some good feedback in our group! When we talked about “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, there were just as many people who liked it as didn’t–but we all had our say! I think the books should be rich in detail and imagery. Also, a strong leader of a book club is so important as they make sure we stay on topic and that everyone gets a chance to talk.

Max: Recommend a book that is a good book club read, or simply pure discussion? That’s an easy one: “The Girl in a Swing” by British author Richard Adams. (He’s perhaps more famous for “Watership Down,” another great book.). The Girl in a Swing is an astonishing novel. When I finished reading it, I wanted to talk about it for weeks. I can’t possibly explain to you what this book is about. It fits no known genre, except perhaps “love story” — but it is waaay more than that. (Dostoevsky comes to mind, but I dare not say more…) Every sentence in this novel is constructed in a way so that it has some bearing on the ultimate outcome. The first thing you will want to do after finishing is read it again. There is nothing else like it!

kjames: For a Book Club I always reccommend “Those Who Save Us” by Jenna Blum. I read it back in 2005 when it came out and it has always stuck with me. As a mom what would I do, our children always come first! I reccommend this book to people all the time. It’s very thought provoking.

Elizabeth: I’ve been in book clubs for about 15 years. We’ve learned that the latest best seller that everyone wants to read is not always the best discussion book. We’ve learned that series books don’t usually make good discussion books. Sometimes it is good to have a book that everyone won’t like. Usually we try to pick books with subjects that members might not be familiar with. Our 2 most popular this year were Red Notice by Bill Browder and Before we were yours.

Ray: Great books for book clubs. Hmm. “The Dwarf” by Par Lagerkvist comes to mind. As I recall, it even has questions for book clubs to discuss at the end. It’s a great book from about 1945. A more recent ,but still old, book that I think would be a good discussion book is Thomas H. Cook’s “The Chatham School Affair”. Cook’s books are not long and always have a surprise ending. If you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable read, read Thomas H. Cook!! I don’t go to book clubs myself, but my wife belongs to two.

Thomas: Hello…About the only 2 authors I read religiously are C. J. Box and Craig Johnson and paperback westerns of which many of the authors are now deceased. Any of those would be on my list for discussion. I was in a book club back about 20 years ago. It didn’t seem worth it. I rarely read Patterson even though their are dozens of them sitting on the same shelves as my paperbacks, since my girlfriend reads them. I think non-fiction books are good for discussion. I just read a 400 page book called “Dinosaurs: The Grand Tour” of which is not on anyone’s list, I would bet. But it truly was fascinating and has got me thinking about those times some 65-250 million years ago. I even watched a few Jurassic Park movies, even though much of their content was not completely accurate. Or, I am fascinated by stock and commodity trading legend Jessie Livermore. I think a movie about his life, which did end tragically, would be worthwhile. I have watched all the Longmire shows, based on the Johnson books and was sad to see that series end. Actually, you could discuss just about any book as thoughts would only by limited by the reader’s imagination.

lkalatimer: There is a series of books by Joan Medlicott about the Ladies of Covington. I think they would make excellent books for a ladies book club. The characters are so real, funny, sad and mysterious. I loved talking to myself about them. Then there is an old book called “And Ladies of the Club” by Harriet Hooven Santmeyer. It was one of my all time favorites and would make interesting character studies. Then honestly how can you miss with the Vince Flynn series. So much dialogue to discuss. I would love to talk about them with others. I don’t get into the books that I can only describe as “high brow” that others choose for book clubs. If a book does not intrique me then I find them boring. Too many of Oprah’s books for her book club were just plain boring for me. I have read 15 of the Brad Thor books on Scott Havrath. I know there are about 3 more left, but I just did not get them yet. Too many other series got in the road of them. I did enjoy them and following that series, not quite as much as Mitch Rapp, but close. Thank you for the new recommendations and have a great summer.

rvidomlanski: Title: Walking Lions by Ayelet Gundar- Goshen This book is an excellent book talk fiction about a doctor who is driving down a dark road late at night after a tiring shift in a hospital. His car hits something and when he goes to check he sees that he hit a person a black etrean man. He comes to a decision to leave the scene with the excuse that the guy was dying anyway and his career is on the line. The novel continues concerning the consequences of his deed and what his right and what is wrong. It is also a suspenseful book.

Jane: I have heard some comments about book clubs from friends (I don’t belong to one – they don’t appeal to me). What I have heard is that most don’t want books that are too complicated and with too many characters. It gets confusing for them to be discussed coherently.

Marcia: Thanks Graeme!

Another newsletter in the archives for you!

I enjoyed your thoughts about Book Clubs. As I started one 4 years ago (because I couldn’t find one to join), we have evolved tremendously. We all choose 2 or 3 books every 6 months and then they are compiled with a short synopsis and the next month we just vote on 6 that we like. It’s democratic and no one’s feelings have been hurt. Sometimes if a book doesn’t make the first cut, it will be nominated again and then picked up. There have been books that I personally didn’t want to read but loved them after I did. All of our members have said they have stepped out of their comfort zone in this book club and are happy they have done so. We have talked with 2 authors, skyping with Darcy Chan, author of the Mill River novels. I have mentioned reading a “classic” but so far we haven’t. The other members seem to cringe when I mention it. We seem to keep a wonderful balance of the books we choose. Of course I look at the books discussed here and one other place to get ideas if I am not familiar with the author/book. I do read reviews of books we suggest and if it is a negative review I don’t automatically disgard that book. I keep reading, so basically, I research extensively!

You mentioned Baldacci’s Will Robie and how disappointed you were with the latest. Baldacci is one of our favorite authors. But I understand that sometimes an author fails to deliver after a few books in the series. I am the same with James Patterson. I may keep up with the Alex Cross series but they have become mundane and since I have invested reading all 25, I hate to not continue. And I am a true believer that when authors begin using ghost writers, I am not reading their work anymore and the writing does suffer. I know it’s impossible for an author to crank out so many books a year without someone else writing for them.

You also mentioned Lincoln and Childs, and currently I am reading the Pendergast series. When I read the first one, it was like someone just threw me out of my chair. It was an awakening and a pleasant one at that. Although the story sometimes got a little gory I could take that. I have not read these authors independently but they are on my list. And I can hardly wait! Their Relic was made into a movie which I have not seen.

Greg Iles is another author that I excitedly look forward to reading his works as they come out. I have found him to be one of the best authors in a long time even though some of his works are not current, it doesn’t matter! His Spandau Phoenix was made into a movie.

I have found that I prefer the books instead of the movies. We don’t discuss the movies in our book club because we have 2 members who aren’t avid television watchers. I would hate to ask them to watch a movie, knowing that it wouldn’t be pleasurable. They treasure the books as I do. Although I think there is one exception to this: Gone With The Wind.

So many books, so little time!!!

Waiting for next months letter!!

Deborah: For the most part, my book club has chosen good books to read and discuss. My favorites have been A Man Called Ove, Heft (rather obscure but full of character development), The Nightingale and The Stars Are Fire. I think we tend to relate to quirky characters and those who find strengths they didn’t know they had when facing challenging circumstances.

jlehner: A friend once told me that a book club can ruin a perfectly fine book and I have found that to be true. I love to receive book suggestions though so was interested in hearing about the Silent Book Clubs. I will use your monthly suggestions to fill that need

Janis: “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. A modern black woman is suddenly jerked back in time to the Antebellum south. It opened new thoughts and questions for me, as well as inspiring interesting conversations.

Joan: Hi Graeme
Thank you again for your welcome newsletter.
On the subject of children’s novels, I was a devoted fan of Enid Blyton.
Devoured everything by her.
As for book clubs. They usually meet once a month to discuss that
months book. But I read too many in one month, I would have forgotten
about the chosen book when they next met. So that’s out for me.
One of my favourite authors now is Tim Weaver. Have you read any of his?
I love him, and have just finished his latest, his ninth I believe, called
You Were Gone. I really enjoyed it, he never lets you down.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Book Suggestions for a Book Club

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: Book Suggestions for a Book Club”

  1. MaryKay Ziegler: 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for including Pat Conroy’s “Beach Music” in your suggested list. I miss his work so much since his passing last year. My favorite of his books is “South of Broad.”


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