As someone intrigued by marriage—what works, what doesn’t, and why—this title immediately caught my eye. When her partner Felipe is told he can never return to America unless he gets married, Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself entering something she thought she’d sworn off for good: marriage. Told with humor and based in an immense amount of research, Committed follows Gilbert as she reconciles with the journey into second marriage. While I adored the book as I thought I would, many of the other women in my book club did not, finding it uninteresting. Since most of us weren’t yet hitched, I wonder if now, five-plus years later and with all of us now married, people’s reactions would be more appreciative of the subject matter.
Whether or not you know the story of Frank Lloyd Wright, this fictional but heavily researched story is a fascinating read, and the final 2o pages will have your hair standing on end. It probably pushed a few more out of our comfort zone than usual, but it was a hit with almost every single one of us. Told from the point of view of Wright’s mistress, Mamah, this blend of fact and fiction brings a woman that was often in the dark into the light.
A Little Life
Admittedly, not every single book club member made it through this tome. But those who did LOVED it. And those who didn’t blamed lack of time, not lack of interest, and kept reading. Discussing this tale of four male friends as they figure out adulthood in New York City proved to be full of interesting interpretation, as well as a general feeling of upset. Full of complicated characters and rich storytelling, A Little Life is a not-so-little journey that your book club will be talking about for a long time.
The subtitle says it all: Candy Girl is about a year in the life of an unlikely stripper. Written before she won an Academy Award for Juno, Candy Girl is Diablo Cody’s account of what happened when she quit her job at an ad agency and tried her luck at amateur night. Surprised and captivated by the thrill of it, she spent the next 12 months baring all. By far one of the most discussed books we’ve chosen yet, you’ll be titillated and curious about what life is like as woman on the pole.
The first of Sittenfeld’s popular novels, Prep takes place in a boarding school, sending the reader into a world of privilege and teenage angst. Many of the ladies in my book club resonated with Lee Fiora, a 14-year-old in her first year at the Ault School. A keen observer, Lee finds herself fascinated by her classmates who are seemingly from a world completely different from her own. Before long, she finds herself no longer watching; instead, she’s now a participant. But the new world she’s created might not be what she wanted after all. We loved this pick so much we’ve thought about revisiting it—don’t miss out.
Nothing to Envy
This nonfiction book forced all of us out of our comfort zone and is one of the most interesting yet upsetting reads we’ve chosen. A National Book Award Finalist, Demick follows the lives of six North Koreans in the 1990s as they discover the ways in which their country has betrayed them. This well-researched personal account is straightforward and unforgettable, and everyone is sure to learn a thing or two about this important time in history.
The Psychopath Test
Some of us were far more intrigued than others at the idea of reading about how to identify psychopaths. But we all had one thing in common after finishing the final page: our desire to diagnosis those we now perceived as psychos. After falling prey to an elaborate hoax, Jon Ronson is sucked into the world of real-life psychopaths. Covering the history of psychopathy, as well as its diagnosis and treatment, Ronson will have you questioning if there are psychopaths in your life, too.
Read by book clubs everywhere, Gone Girl is my favorite type of novel—one with a narrator you can’t rely on. And while every single person in my book club enjoyed it, the ending had many changing their minds after the last few pages had been turned. Lest I give too much away, I’ll say this: it’s a thriller with a twist, and one that will leave you thinking long and hard about who you can trust.
The formula for a good book club is yummy food plus wine with a little bit of talk about the book mixed in. Because some books naturally provide more stimulating conversations than others, I’m sharing a list of titles that grabbed my book club, which has been going strong for almost a decade. The key to finding perfect book club books that will generate discussion is to pick something that suits all tastes while still nudging everyone out of their reading comfort zone. While not all of us loved every book on this list, each of these titles got us talking.
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