If you've ever been in a book club and been tasked with picking the next month's book, then you already know: It's a high stress, big stakes responsibility. You want to select a book that not only inspires conversation and debate and critical thinking, but satisfies a wide variety of literary opinions. It's a tall order, but not impossible. Take a deep breath, take a seat and comb through this month's top book club picks from Goodreads. There's a little something in there for pretty much everyone. I promise.
In recent years, book clubs have seemingly skyrocketed in popularity. What was once associated with either grouchy academics or wine moms has now become an activity for all kinds of folks. There are cookbook book clubs, biography book clubs, digital book clubs, national book clubs — pick a theme and somewhere, someone is reading a book with that very specific demographic of people. And it's totally understandable — there's something deeply satisfying in sharing the same book, the same story, the same world, with a host of other people. Hearing their own impressions and experiences. Maybe even looking at a chapter, a character, even a single passage in a new light after your neighbor completely blows your mind with a new perspective.
Goodreads gets it, too. They've compiled their ~literary data~ to identify the top 25 books that book clubs across the world devoured. The list is dominated by fiction, but houses a handful of truly superb nonfiction works and even several YA tearjerkers. But what's deeply refreshing is the diversity of authors, a sign of hope.
So what's on your list?
'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng
Celeste Ng's simmering second novel takes us into the meticulously planned world of Shaker Heights, a suburban community outside Cleveland, where following the rules is ingrained into the town's fabric ― until Mia Warren, a single mother and artist, blows into town with her daughter, Pearl, and a host of secrets.
'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant has a carefully planned out life, one that works around social interactions and is really, truly fine. But when Eleanor and a messy (in every sense of the word) co-worker rescue an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three form a trio that breaks all of Eleanor's rules — and cracks her heart wide open.
'Before We Were Yours' by Lisa Wingate
'A Gentleman in Moscow' by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow is set in 1922: the Bolshevik tribunal has imprisoned Rostov for being an aristocrat — unapologetically, irredeemably so — and places him under house arrest in a hotel across the street from the Kremlin. From his attic apartment, Rostov is forced to go through a personal reckoning as the world crumbles outside his window.
'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One, which recently hit theaters as a springtime blockbuster, transports us to 2045, where teen Wade Watts spends as much of his time as he can jacked into the virtual oasis called, well, OASIS. But when his obsession with OASIS' hidden puzzles reveals a world of violence, murder and mystery, he's forced to figure things out in the "real" world... whatever that means.
'Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda' by Becky Albertalli
'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas
Last year's blockbuster YA novel, The Hate U Give continues to be heartbreakingly, infuriatingly relevant. Starr Carter who, at 16, has already learned to navigate the liminal space between her working class neighborhood and prestigious prep school she attends, witnesses the shooting of her best friend Khalil. Khalil was unarmed. He was shot by police.
'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood
'The Woman in the Window' by A.J. Finn
'The Power' by Naomi Alderman
'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle
Ugh, reading a childhood favorite with your book club biddies is just? The best? Ever? Madeleine L'Engle's ultra-classic middle grade novel of time travel, new dimensions of reality, and the strength of family was recently, very casually adapted for the screen into a movie starring Oprah, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon.
'The Immortalists' by Chloe Benjamin
The Gold siblings, four children on the brink of adolescence in 1969 NYC, are about to hear the one piece of news everyone fears — and craves. There's a mystic, according to rumors circulating through their Lower East Side neighborhood, who can tell you the day you'll die. One fateful night, four dates, and a lifetime of altered, shifted adventures in The Immortalists.
'Children of Blood and Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi
Though it hit shelves mere months ago, Tomi Adeyemi's debut novel of magic, of tradition, of patriarchy, and of fierce resilience, is already being developed as a film. Zélie, a teen "maji," is the last hope for her people after a new ruler begins hunting down anyone who holds within them magic ― and its untamed power.
'The Great Alone' by Kristin Hannah
It's 1974 in The Great Alone, and 13-year-old Leni, daughter of a struggling Vietnam War vet and a passionate, devoted mother, is about to be whisked away to Alaska, a wilderness, a frontier, that her parents see as a final hope. And it is, it seems — until it very suddenly, very jarringly, does not.
'Educated' by Tara Westover
Tara Westover's memoir is one of ferocious, unyielding curiosity, a hunger to know more. Tara was born into a family of survivalists — until the age of 17, she never even stepped foot inside a classroom. But driven by a growing love for academia, Tara studied and read and worked her way to a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.
'Killers of the Flower Moon' by David Grann
'The Radium Girls' by Kate Moore
They were called "Shining Women" — girls, many of them, toiling in underground factories producing radium dials during the era of WWI. Covered in the glittery, newly-discovered element, the shining girls quite literally shone, a sign of their coveted positions — until they start falling sick. The Radium Girls is an exploration into worker's rights and corporate scandal, this book will knock you down and pick you up.
'The Underground Railroad' by Colson Whitehead
Oprah loved this book so much that the publishing date was pushed up by a whole month — yes, really. Colson Whitehead reimagines "the underground railroad" as an actual underground railroad, one which takes runaway slaves Cora and Caesar on a state-by-state flight to freedom.
'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones
Hey, if Oprah read An American Marriage for her book club, then we... all should, right? Celestial and Roy are newly married and full of life and promise. The world feels so big and open, until Roy is convicted of a crime that Celestial knows he didn't commit. Five years in prison and a lifetime of change build up between the couple before Roy is released.
'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrick Backman
'All The Light We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr
'Pachinko' by Min Jin Lee
'Exit West' by Mohsin Hamid
Mohsin Hamid's magical realism journey through national identity, immigration, war, and the concept of borders — what if there were doors that could whisk you into a different country, albeit at a steep price? — will absolutely, 100 percent make you cry in public if you read it on the train. Just a warning.