In the June newsletter, I asked for books that were good for inciting discussion – possibly for a book club. Here were the responses:

Scott: For a Bookclub read, may I suggest “Catching Ricebirds” by Marcus Doe. Cards on the table, Marcus (“Cookie” to some of us) is a gem of person with an incredible real-life story of his birth and life in Liberia, the death of his mother, the murder of his father during a coup, and ultimately fleeing to the US. It is a powerful, fascinating read, and again, Marcus is an incredible person. I highly recommend it.

Janet: I have only been in one book club and didn’t much like it. It took the group weeks to finish the book, I was done in two days. The discussion by some in the group was how they learned important things….. it was a mystery by Agatha Christie that we were discussing. I thought it was for sheer entertainment and wondered what else I should have got from the book. This was 45 years ago while in school.

Today, I would like to sit and discuss:

The change in Catherine Coulter characters since the The Cove.

The nutty southern charm of the characters in Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series.

The Carrie Vaughn series about Kitty the werewolf set in Denver, CO. It would be fun because the locations are real and you can visualize them.

That isn’t a single book recommendation since I never really go into the book club thing. I have read the suggested book club questions at the end of some books and my only thoughts are why do I care which character you liked most or other nonsense.

Karen: I want to suggest a series that I think is absolutely outstanding and two stand alones by the very same author. The author is William Kent Kruger and his stand alones are Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. His series is the 17 books in the Cork O’Connor mysteries. I think this author gives the most genuine and beautiful flavor to northern Minnesota and to his character development. I have loved every single book I’ve read by him. He’s not new, but he has been new for me and I have raced through every book he’s written and now am eagerly waiting his last book in the series of Cork O’Connor. His series should be read in order so that it makes sense and I know Amazon is so delighted to have me as a customer as I’ve downloaded every single one of them.
I am also in a monthly book club that reads lots of different kinds of books and we 10 ladies went absolutely crazy over the book, The Book of Lost Friends about 3 young ladies after the Civil War who are all in search of someone that has been lost due to slavery, not killed, but sold away or met misfortune, and a Texas newspaper, The Abilene Christian Monitor posts paragraphs of people looking for lost family in their weekly newspaper. It is based on true articles in the paper. The story is absolutely spell binding and since our group rates and grades these books, I thought I’d tell you about it as we gave it a 10 out of 10 which very rarely happens with all of us very different ladies. This is the first time I’ve ever written to this site, but I felt I should. Thanks for reading it.

Kacey: I just finished A Land Remembered. It’s a best-selling novel written by Patrick D. Smith. Its a historical fiction set mostly in pioneer or “Cracker” Florida from 1858 to 1968. I was born and raised in Florida. Calling me a Florida Cracker is NOT offensive. Cracker was given first to the cowboys using the crack sound of a whip to drive the wild cows of Florida swamps. I recognized all the towns mentioned plus even tho it’s fiction the basic story describes how old time Florida was. It was so good I hated to see the end. There happy times and very sad times. I think it would be a great one for a book club discussion. It’s fiction but based on real events. I’m sure this is one I will read again.

Rosaria: I keep slips of paper on my desk of books recommended or I’ve come across. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is one of these suggestions, and honestly I don’t know if someone recommended it on your site. It is an interesting book for discussion, the book is very graphic and delves into the life of a 14 year old abused at a private school, and how it becomes part of her through her life. It is dark, but the characters are very complex. I listened to it on audio, and the reader did an excellent reading, bringing the characters to life.

Sherril: I would like to recommend White Plague by Frank Herbert. I read the book years ago and have never been able to get the story out of my mind. I read it about the same time as I read the Dune series and was reading anything by the author.

This is unlike any of his other books that I have read.

By the way, Replay is one of my favorite books of all time.

Joyce: The first thought provoking book that came to mind was
The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. It was a disturbing book at times due to the subject matter but one that was captivating.

Don: Here are few books that could be thought provoking:

A Painted House by John Grisham
One Summer by David Baldacci
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (first published in
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
The Walkaway by Scott Phillips
Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline
Echoes of My Soul by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Christine:,/strong> Will by G. Gordon Liddy.since he died recently I decided to read his book. Found it to be absolutely fascinating. Even if you have absolutely no interest in politics, you will be amazed by what you find out about corruption at the top levels & policies that have been in effect for a long, long time.

Chris: Hi Graeme–like you, I think “Replay” by Ken Grimwood is an excellent book for a book club to read and discuss. I also think that “11/22/63” by Stephen King is also good for triggering lots of conversation. While my book club insists on members nominating fairly new books (which, alas, takes “Replay” out of consideration), I recommend that book and the Stephen King book a lot. A book my club is about to discuss this week is “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig, which is also about redoing our lives. I’m really looking forward to hearing what the group will have to say. All three of these books are different but they all inspire the reader to ponder the question–what if I’d made different life choices?

Katy: I suggest The Warehouse, by Rob Hart – a slightly si-fi novel about what Amazon could turn into. I love Amazon, but this is a bit scary – a very good read!

Sheila: The book you mentioned at the top of the newsletter is great for discussion. One Second After by William R. Forstchen. really makes you think just how vulnerable we are to attack. We are very fond of our electronics and our power grid. One part in this book that really hit home to me was refrigeration would go out and insulin would be done with. It has been several years since I read this book and it still haunts me about how possible it would be to happen.

Stuart: Greetings again!

Book Club Candidates:

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
The Address by Fiona Davis
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Jenny: Most of what I normally read wouldn’t work for a book club discussion and most of what I’ve had recommended by book clubs I haven’t cared for, so this month’s question was a bit tricky for me.

The only book I have read lately that might fit actually became more and more appropriate as I considered it. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It is a book about regret and the choices we make in our lives. I bought it for my mom and am now eagerly waiting for her to finish it so we can start a discussion. Perhaps she will suggest it to her book club friends.

Denise: This is an easy question for me.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

There is SO much to discuss in this book(s) andThe Testaments. We do not need to even get into the second book. There is so much relevance to the times and the unsettling within the USA.
This is the story of the most determined Mother, mama bear, that I have read about in a long time. Read the book first, do not watch the TV series before the read.

Judy: Recommendations for book club:
The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson or any of her books
One Second After, then One Year After by William Forstchen

Linda: I read a book a long long time ago that I think would be very interesting in a book club. It was called “And Ladies of the Club” by Santemeyer. It is about a book club and the ladies in the club. It was heartwarming and just such an enjoyable read. Now for the book “Watching You”: I loved it. It was very twisty and I cannot imagine listening to it on audio as opposed to reading the printed page. I think it would be too confusing. Please, give it another try. Also, cannot believe you have not read the Gamache books. Oh, my of my what have you missed? lol I had I believe one in the series I really did not like and one that was not my cup of tea, but still good. I absolutely love Three Pines and all the characters. I have been reading some very good books this month. Just finished Grishams’ “A Time for Mercy” and recommend it to anyone who loves courtroom drama. No one does it better than Grisham. I am now reading “A Gambling Man” by Baldacci. It is very good, but not quite as thrilling as his other books that I have read. He is one of my favorite authors. I , too, enjoy Ben Coes books. He is right up there with Flynn, Miles and Greaney. Read “The Last Flight” by Julie Clark that was recommended her on OOB and it was really good, too. Now because of the recommendation of Susan Hill, I just ordered her first three in that series. Hope I love them. Thank you for the newsletter and everyone keep up the recommendations.

June: Graeme, you asked about book to recommend for discussion. I would like to recommend ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman. It brings out the situations and actions on what drives people to do what they do. Why they commit suicide. What affect it has on other people and how this steers other people’s lives, even strangers who are affected by circumstances. I found it very emotional and insightful.

Ginny: Book club recommendation: My Sister’s Keeper, by Picoult. Or maybe have half the club read that and the other half read Unwind by Shusterman. Each book has a somewhat different take on the ethics of breeding for organ/tissue/blood transplants.

Pat: Great newsletters usual. Always a Happy Occasion to see you in my “In Box”.
I hope I’m not being too obvious with my recco, what with the book having won a Pulitzer, but I’ve gotta recommend “All The Light We Cannot See”, by Anthony Doerr.

I read the book just based on the cover blurb, totally unaware of its reputation. I was totally stunned by the grace and lyricism with which it was written. It was suspenseful, yet completely open as to what was taking place with the characters. I would so much appreciate a sequel, but I know it wouldn’t have worked with the storyline. I read it a year ago, and I consistently recommend it to absolutely anyone who ask me if I “ …Read any good books lately…”? If you haven’t read it already, do yourself a favor, Graeme, and check this out. Let me know what you think of it.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Books That Incite Discussion

5 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Books That Incite Discussion”

  1. Margaret McNeely: 3 years ago

    I am from North Carolina. I want to thank you for the way you handled the woman who was hateful about your LBGQT book recommendations. When I have to tell people I was born and bred in NC, I also have to inform them that I am a liberal, progressive North Carolinian, thank you very much.

    I love your webpage.


    • Graeme: 3 years ago

      Thanks Margaret; much appreciated 🙂


  2. Kathryn D. Ripley: 3 years ago

    My pet peeve is when an author introduces so many characters at once that you can hardly remember who is doing what until you are more familiar with them.


  3. Susy Jones: 3 years ago

    I have tried several times to recommend the Unwind series by Neil Shusterman. When I describe it, it just sounds weird, but it is an excellent novel about what the future might look like. One of my favorite quotes–The victors get to write the history. Great YA series.


    • Graeme: 3 years ago

      Surprisingly I’ve never add that one in the recommendations section of the newsletter. I will have to add it soon 🙂


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