If you belong to a book club long enough or read a lot, you probably have the wisdom to know what kind of book generates lots of discussion. For example, you know that a controversial or thought-provoking topic is a home run. Curiously, this is true even if the book is flawed.
Dysfunctional family dynamics, such as emotional, physical or substance abuse, or a mother that goes way out of bounds to protect her child are great examples. You’ll find that the oppression of women in other cultures or books that explore race, slavery or today’s hot topic of immigration heighten the senses; everyone becomes invested in the conversation, and it’s fantastic, no one wants the evening to end.
There are present-day battles worth mentioning too. Some books are just natural show stoppers. They echo not belonging, being different or scratching your way from abject poverty to success through sheer determination and resilience.
Then, there are books with a story based on clever, quirky characters or love and betrayal. Still not sure? Try historical fiction, always safe and a genre that is loved by young and old alike.
I’ve read a lot of books about the Holocaust and ancient cultures with customs that are now considered barbaric; they require very little effort to get everyone talking.
Now, for some books that will inspire fabulous thought-provoking discussions – keep reading.
Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton
A powerful story of an unwed mother in the 1800s. There is lots to discuss about the role of women and the class differences that existed. Young unwed mothers of this era faced all consuming hardships, sometimes alone. (More on this book here)
The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus
Actions have consequences and sadly our government is not perfect. It’s no surprise that Native Americans were treated differently than the White population in the late 1800s. This story, by the author of “One Thousand White Women”, explores these topics. It’s also about forging a new path and the love a mother has for her child. More on this book here)
The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
Book clubs love discussing independent, forward-thinking women and the main character in this book is strong, smart and resourceful. Constraints are placed on Grace because she is a woman and as you can imagine, attitudes on sex are not that of today. (More on this book here)
Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith
Heartwarming and discussion worthy is a great combination. This story, about identical twins, is complex and explores issues of adoption, extended family and the difficulties of dealing with a loved one in a coma and on life support. (More on this book here)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
What makes this such a great book club choice is that it examines motherhood from two different perspectives. And make no mistake, it’s beautifully written and engaging right from the start. It also explores issues of passing judgment, class, race and inter-racial adoption. (More on this book here)
The Orphans Tale by Pam Jenoff
This is a story that will make you question your inner strength and ask if you would do the same under similar circumstances. It highlights many acts of bravery but sadly also many horrific acts by the Germans. It’s also a story of love and healing. (More on this book here)
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Deception, personality disorders, marriage, and trust are all issues present in this book. Bad behavior and bad decisions are fun and entertaining to read and discuss – and there’s lots of detail on the extravagant lifestyle of the rich- another hot discussion topic. (More on this book here)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Probably not your standard book club pick – but why not go for something light and entertaining once in a while. Everyone loves to gossip and it’s fun to look at the best and worst of human nature. And who doesn’t like Hollywood? (More on this book here)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Emotions run high in this book. It deals with the moral limits a person is willing to cross and difficult decisions that can’t always be reversed. It will make you think about love’s blindness. (More on this book here)
The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
Aside from a main theme of ‘is monogamy best in a marriage’, which is a hot topic, this book also explores the issues of transgender shaming, dealing with an autistic child, and relationships. It also touches on the meaning of love and examines the concept ‘is the grass always greener on the other side’? (More on this book here)
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