Finding the best book club book can be tough since most book clubs have people with differing tastes. Plus, you want to make sure it’s a book people will have strong feelings about so there’s stuff to discuss.
In my experience (unless you’re in a book club with specialized tastes), a good book club book generally needs to be at least somewhat accessible, have some positive buzz (no one wants to read a book everyone says is garbage), and has to strike a good balance between having an eventful plot but also digging into some interesting issues everyone can get excited about discussing. It also helps if the authors are well-known. There’s definitely exceptions to this, but that’s typically my strategy if I’m trying to come up with books to suggest for a group read.
But anyway, without further ado, these are my picks for the best books to read with your book club for 2019!
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Reid Jenkins (released March 5, Riverhead / Penguin Random House) tells the story of the rise and fall of a fictional 70’s rock and roll band. It’s got a VH1’s Behind the Music feel to it since it’s told as an “oral history” from a pastiche of perspectives, and it’s a fun and accessible book.
A lot of people are really loving it, though some of the reviews are a bit more mixed. I’m at about the half-way point of reading this right now, so I’m sure that review will be up soon! I’m withholding my judgement on it until then.
Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love fame is back again, this time with a work of fiction called City of Girls (expected June 4, 2019). It’s got adventure, sex and glamour, so there’s a good chance it’ll be a crowdpleaser. It’s about a woman who’s older and recalling her life experiences over the years, starting from her childhood in the 1920’s and going from there.
I had mixed feelings on Eat Pray Love when I read it a long long time ago, but I’m excited for this one.
An Anonymous Girl (January 2019) is the newest release from writing team Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Their first book The Wife Between Us wasn’t perfect but had some fun twists. I would definitely limit this recommendation to only groups of mystery/thriller lovers, but I’m guessing their follow-up will be similar — a quick, fun read if your group likes psychological thrillers.
This one is about a girl who agrees to participate in a psychological study on ethics and morality. Soon, it’s not clear what’s real and what’s part of the test…
I’m sure most people came across Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winning Underground Railroad as some point. His next book, The Nickel Boys (June 3, 2019), has been getting great buzz as well.
Early reviews are very positive, and the book is a slim 224 pages. The Nickel Boys delves back into the topic of race, this time through two boys in Jim Crow Era-Florida. I know I’m definitely going to be reading this.
If you haven’t heard about this book yet and you’re a fan of the Night Circus, I’m guessing you’re pretty excited right now. Yup, Erin Morgenstern is back after many years and she has a new book coming out…in November. The Starless Sea, cover yet to be revealed. I know, I’m sorry it’s such a long ways off. I have no doubt hordes of people will be reading it, so perhaps your book club can too!
I enjoyed the Night Circus, but not as much as everyone else. That said, I liked it enough that I’m still very curious about what Morgenstern is capable of, so I will most likely be reading this when the time comes. It’s about a grad student who finds a mysterious book in the library that leads him into a magical subterranean world…
I hemmed and hawed a little about including this one, The Huntress (released February) by Kate Quinn (author of The Alice Network). It’s gotten great reviews, but it’s also a very hefty historical fiction novel about two people who join forces in order to track down a Nazi war criminal.
I think this book might intimidate some more casual readers, but if your book club is more intense, this might be a good one to take for a spin.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her famed Handmaid’s Tale will be hitting the shelves in September. The Testaments will undoubtedly be very widely read when it arrives. Atwood has offered scant information about it, though the description notes that it picks up 15 years after the end of the original.
Atwood’s message about it: “Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” —Margaret Atwood”
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel is the last book on this list, though not much is known about it yet. It’s anticipated to come out this year, but I’m guessing that it’ll be fairly late in the year. But I loved Station Eleven, and I’m sure this one will be worth a look. It’s not available on Amazon yet, but I know I’ll be preordering it when it is.
Description: “The Glass Hotel begins in 2004 when a young cook named Nicole Stevenson disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania. Four years later, a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it. Moving back and forth in time, The Glass Hotel traces the intriguing tangle of lives caught up in both events.”
When All is Said by Anne Griffin is probably not going to be as well-known as some of the other titles on this list, but if you’re looking for a good book that will impress your book club, this could very well be it. It consists of five monologues from a man looking back at his life, all linked by the presence of a stolen, valuable coin.
It’s gotten fantastic reviews, and it’s been described as a compassionate, touching, melancholy book. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s definitely on my list of books to read this year.
Those are my picks for now! I left off any books that are part of a series, since it’s always iffy as to whether your book club members have read the other books in the series. I’ll be updating this list as reviews roll in and 2019 shakes out!