Selecting a Book Club Book can be daunting! We all want to bring a fantastic read to our book group that spurs a lively discussion.
After much consideration, we are excited to share 10 of our favorite books for our 2016 Book Club list. Read on and feel confident picking any of the following books for your Book Club.
Each selection has a review, a book summary, discussion questions, talking points, a link to the author’s website and a list of other books written by the same author.
1.The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart
PBR Book Review: Narrated by the sweet young voice of Dixie Dupree, this book captures the small-town Alabama life of a dysfunctional family in 1969. Dixie’s father drinks, her mother has a hair-trigger temper, money is tight, and her support system is unreliable, but amazingly, this young girl manages to remain optimistic. As such, the book tackles many problems of poverty and a broken family, showing how abused children deal with these stresses and, many times feel responsible and confused about who they can trust. Adults are often in denial or so engulfed in their own struggles they are not able to help. Book Club Page
2.The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson
PBR Review: THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson is one the best book I’ve listened to in a while! I agree with the Washington Post when it says, ” It’s your cure to Downton Abby Withdrawl.” I couldn’t stop listening to this book. I felt transported to the town of Rye, England, and became immersed in this enchanting story. It begins with Beatrice Nash, a young woman hired to teach Latin at the local school. The appointment of a woman caused a bit of a stir in the community because women didn’t have equal rights. The suffragette movement is an interesting thread throughout the story. I loved all the historical details, including the formalities, restrictions, and chivalry! It’s a wonderful love story, but as the book progresses, it takes on a more serious tone as the war approaches. There’s a lot to discuss with this book. It’s a fantastic summer read and would make an excellent Book Club choice. Book Club Page
3.What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
PBR Review: In quick order, Gilly Macmillan presents a compelling scenario, and shortly after, the reader will start to feel like reading throughout the night. The story revolves around a missing child and is told from the perspective of the lead detective heading up the investigation, Jim, and the distraught mother of the missing child, Rachael. The parent or not, the angst of the situation hits you hard and fast; this is a taunt psychological thriller that is well-paced, well-written, and suspenseful. Both of these main characters are flawed, making them all the easier to relate to. But, the added bonus for me was the writing style and delivery; this is not your standard mystery. You can feel the fear and trepidation in Rachael as the search continues, and Jim’s remorsefulness hangs like a waterlogged cloud just before the storm. Mysteries are generally not for book clubs, but this book is the exception to the rule- the mystery is above-average fantastic, but the excellent character development throws it over the top. It’s great for both the mystery lover and book clubs. And to think, this is a debut novel. Bravo, Gilly Macmillan! Book Club Page
4. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
PBR Review: With varying degrees, everyone was touched by the events of the 911 terror attack. I live miles away from ground zero but can still remember the burning sensation in my throat and the eerie silence that descended upon the city as the world waited and wondered. This may be part of the reason I was so touched by this story; I loved it. Susan Meissner parallels two NYC tragedies; the 911 terror attacks and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which at the time was considered the most deadly NYC disaster. Both stories are compelling, pulling you in, shaking up emotions, creating conflicts within, and leaving you amazed by the similarities of these two events, a hundred years apart. Book Club Page
5. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
PBR Review: Jodi Picoult sends a powerful message with her latest book, Small Great Things. As usual, she writes about a current topic and challenges you to re-examine your beliefs. With well-developed characters and an excellent plot, she skillfully opens up an insightful conversation about racism. She talks about white privilege and the importance of being mindful. She sheds light on how inequality can be both robust and subtle. This book encourages you to think outside the box has made me more aware of my behavior. I would have given it five stars, but some of the courtroom scenes and the ending pushed the limits of believability. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It would spur a lively discussion and make an excellent Book Club Selection. Book Club Page
6. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
PBR Review: Ove is a “don’t judge a book by its cover kind of man.” When you first meet – he is different – the self-appointed mayor of the neighborhood who performs a series of daily tasks that annoy. He notices everything. He barks at the slightest infraction. He is steadfast and arduous. But as the story progresses, you stop seeing his arrogant manner. Like a beautiful sunrise, he gradually warms your heart, then steals it. Don’t miss this beautiful transformation. It’s a delightful tale that is both sad and happy. Book Club Page
7. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
PBR Review: This is a book about decisions that haunt and love that consumes. Tom Sherbourne, a lighthouse keeper on a remote island in Australia, makes a decision not to report an unusual event – a boat that washes ashore with a dead man and a living baby girl. Instead, he and his wife, Isabel, decided to keep the baby and raise her as their own. Opposing forces are at play throughout this well-written, well-plotted story as Tom struggles with his morally wrong decision. This is a compelling debut with a strong sense of time and place and enough plot twists to keep you turning pages. Recommended for those that enjoy a good, engrossing story with strong characters. Book Club Page
8. The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown
PBR Review: I always love it when a story has its roots in truth, and this is just such a story. It’s told primarily from the viewpoint of Joe Rantz, one of the nine men from The University of Washington’s rowing team competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This is a real-life account of overcoming obstacles and doing whatever it takes to win. The author weaves in many historical events of the time and gives the reader strong characters. Winning a gold medal is not easy; it requires hard work, dedication, and teamwork. This book lets the reader feel what it’s like to want, work for and achieve something. Very inspiring. Book Club Page
9. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
PBR Review: I loved this book! Anthony Doerr masterfully weaves an intriguing story about the lives of two young children during the occupation of France in WWII. I’ll admit I love a WWII story, and there are plenty of them out there, but this one is exceptional. It’s beautifully written and illuminates what ordinary people can accomplish when faced with extraordinary circumstances. The story has two protagonists. The first is six-year-old Marie-Laure, who is blind and lives in Paris with her adoring Father. He teaches her to navigate the city by building her a miniature replica of her neighborhood for her to memorize. She’s courageous and resilient and one of my favorite characters of late. The second is Warner, a young orphan boy living in a less-than-desirable group home in Germany. He has a gift for electronics that gets him recruited into a brutal Hitler Youth Program. Despite the sadness and cruelties of war, this story transcends the perils and shines a light on the goodness of young and old people. It touches your heart and would make an excellent Book Club choice. Book Club Page
10. The Girl Who Wrote In Silk by Kelli Estes
PBR Review: Historical Fiction fans are going to love this emotionally charged story of the Chinese American struggles and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act in Seattle; I certainly did. Prior to reading this book, I was unaware of this blemish in American History. The story is told from the perspective of two young women, Mei Lien, which takes place in the 1880s, and Inara, in the present day. For me, the lure of Mei Lien’s story was stronger than Inara’s; the details and nuances of the author’s writing brought this era and its turbulence to life. Mei Liens’ is a tale of racism and anti-Chinese sentiment; some of it is hard to read, and shades of it are still true today. I should also note it was not 100% historically accurate and warrants a Google search when done. In contrast, although I loved parts of the present-day story, it felt just a bit forced, and a large portion of this thread was very dependent on coincidence. Still, a very engrossing story. I loved how Inara’s family’s past became her present. Recommend! Book Club Page
For more reading suggestions, check out our Reviews, PBR Favorites, Reader’s Choice, and Awards!
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