17 Engaging Books For Great Book Club Discussions

Are you ready for some inspiring reading? I’ve been brainstorming, searching the web, and striking up book conversations galore. So, I hope you’re in the mood to discover some perfect books, because you’ll probably find more than one you’ll want to read. I scroll through a lot of books. I embrace any genre and I like variety. For this reason, I thought it might be fun to include a few different genres in my selections this time around.

Of course, I read lots of reviews too, but more and more, like it or not, I’m finding many sponsored reviews, which I feel are not always unbiased.

It’s also true that while a book may be excellent, it may not be book club material. There’s just not enough substance to get and keep the discussion going. The key to a good book club book is weighty topics, like controversial social issues, a main character that is complicated and flawed, or issues that stir up strong emotions. Some of the best discussions happen when there is a lot of disagreement.

My favorite book club books are the ones that make me feel and think. I look for stories about racism, inequality, class, and strong women overcoming social restrictions. I like books that give me space to change my mind. I also love character-driven stories; they’re deeper and stay with me long after closing the book.

Scroll down to find some great choices.

If you like Historical Fiction

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

My Thoughts: A perfect book club pick. It’s very relevant to what is going on today. It shows the devastating effects of the dust bowl which ripped through Texas, forcing people to move and restart their lives. Today we have climate change which is wreaking havoc on parts of our country. And we’re also in the middle of a global pandemic, which is economically and emotionally crippling people and livelihoods. Finally, I love Kristin Hannah.

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The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

My Thoughts: This is a beautiful, well-written story with a lot to appreciate. Set in Tehran, it’s excellent for anyone who loves reading about different cultures. It’s also a haunting love story, especially if you believe in everlasting love. And, of course, the characters are deep, human, and very flawed.

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I, Eliza Hamilton By Susan Holloway Scott

My Thoughts: History does repeat itself, and not always in a good way. This is Eliza Hamilton’s story, but since she is the wife of Alexander Hamilton, it also goes into the turmoil of how our country was formed. I’m now more grateful for our founding fathers’ work. I wonder what strong, moral men like Alexander could do for our country today. But Eliza is the star of this book. Her strength is an inspiration, and her marriage one to be envied.

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If you like Thrillers:

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

My Thoughts: This is exactly what a thriller book club book should be. It has a unique but plausible premise plus all the suspense and twistiness a good thriller needs. But this one also goes one step further, it is absolutely intriguing – why would Alicia kill her husband and then refuse to talk for years? Even after she is found guilty.

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Every Last Fear by Alex Finley

My Thoughts: I thought this would be a good choice for book clubs because there’s a lot of family drama and trauma. It’s an intelligent read that touches on a lot of relevant topics, like true-crime documentaries. We love them. But, they do impact the person being filmed. The book also goes into our justice system and wrongful convictions, another hot topic.

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His & Hers by Alice Feeney

My Thoughts:  Ok, so I’ve already picked up Feeney’s next book because I loved this one! The story takes many totally unexpected turns. And each time you try to figure out the mystery, something happens, so of course, you think someone else is the culprit. The story is about a man and woman. Each takes a turn telling their side of the story, a good format that slowly reveals secrets, heightens the suspense, and keeps you guessing.

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

My Thoughts:  I like that this is a topic often overlooked but very relevant today. I also like that it’s a story with a message. It may be a trigger for some as it deals with domestic abuse and childhood trauma. But this is also what makes it a book that will generate a lot of discussion and emotion at your book club meeting. One of the best parts for me was Lily’s self-talk. It felt so real – I think everyone has a voice in their head that tries to rationalize the uncomfortable things in life and relationships.

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The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

My Thoughts: I love Jodi Picoult and always look forward to reading her books. I think because she never fails to find fascinating and unique topics for her stories. This story is about Dawn, a death doula, which I found fascinating to read about. The book also goes into our choices in life and the doubts we have about these choices. It covers a lot about parenting and second chances. It goes deep into Egyptology (probably a little too much, if I’m honest). But the ending – is something everyone will have an opinion on.

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Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

My Thoughts: I struggled a little when trying to slot this into a category. It’s a mystery, but it’s atmospheric and well written with fantastic characters. It’s also a story that delivers a message or two. The author is obviously passionate about our ecosystem. But she gives an equally strong message about the healing journey of trauma and abuse. These are both issues that make for great discussion. It could be a trigger for some.

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If You like something on the lighter side:

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

My Thoughts: This is one of those stories that is engaging but not too intense. It’s a new modern love story. But don’t let the light-hearted, feel-good aspect of this book fool you. It’s about a boy, Khai, with autism and his struggles to fit into society. And a girl, Esme, his mother finds and transports from Vietnam for him to marry. I guess this is the modern-day version of an arranged marriage. So, it may not generate an intense discussion. Still, it will be a fun and diversified discussion with some meaty topics if you want to go there.

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The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

My Thoughts: I completely lost myself in this book. This is a touching, easy-to-read story with a main character that you just have to root for. Sam is born with red “devil” eyes, so he struggles with many challenges; bullying, fitting in, relationships, and acceptance, to name a few. But he also has a mother who loves him fiercely. Sam’s journey is not easy to forget. Neither is his mother’s love for him and the man he grew to be.

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Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

My Thoughts: This is an easy book to read. It’s about two sisters, Jo and Beth, and in following their stories, you live their failures and successes right along with them. I should mention that there are a few dark moments, but the book’s overall tone is uplifting. It’s a book for and about women and a story about connections. It’s complex, so there should be plenty to discuss.

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If you like a more literary read

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

My Thoughts: This is an award-winning book. Home Fire won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. With this story, Shamisie re-imagines the play Antigone, written by Sophocles around 441BC. The plot is involved and intense, covering some heavy topics such as terrorism and the struggles of Muslim women. This is not a fast read but well worth the effort.

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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

My Thoughts: This book covers a few topics about women and feminism. It contrasts women of decades ago with today’s women and covers some important current issues. It’s told through two women’s voices, one young, one older, and shows how the feminist movement has changed. But, again, it’s not a fast read, so it may not be for everyone, but for the right group of women, it’s fabulous and discussion-worthy.

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And finally, a few of my personal favorites

Circe by Madeline Miller

My Thoughts: This is a book about Greek Gods. And while reading it, I could actually imagine a time when they ruled the earth. Circe is the daughter of Helios, God of the sun. But she doesn’t seem to have the same powers as the other Gods and therefore never quite fits in. This story follows her journey of self-discovery and transformation. It’s layered, complex, and fascinating. I fell in love with Circe.

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My Thoughts: This book has very complex, flawed characters that struggle with important decisions. But, it’s also about love, marriage, forgiveness, and resilience. It shines a light on the failures of our justice system and the brutal consequences of wrongful convictions.

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Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

My Thoughts: This is the story of Sitara, who, at age 10, witnessed her family being murdered during a coup to overthrow the Afghanistan government. The story follows her to adulthood as she tries to find happiness, forgiveness, and answers. It’s a compelling read

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For more book club suggestions, visit our Book Club section. Here you’ll find PBR’s favorites, information on discussion questions, tips on leading the discussion, and more.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. ~Haruki Murakami 

Happy Reading,

Linda

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