100 Best Book Club Books of All Time (By Year)


best book club books of all time

If you’re looking for the next book for your book club, this is a list of the 100 Best Book Club Books of All Time. The books are listed in reverse chronological order (so newer books are first), based on publication year.

The list has a preference for titles released in more recent years, but includes notable titles that were published in earlier years as well that have remained firmly on book club reading lists.

Happy reading and if you think there’s something missing, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below!

For more book club reads, see the Best Book Club Books of 2021 or the Best Book Club Books of 2020.


The Vanishing Half (2020)
Brit Bennett

What It's About: The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Vanishing Half (2020)

Publication Date: June 2, 2020
  
historical fiction book club read in 2020


The Giver of Stars (2019)
Jojo Moyes

What It's About: From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Giver of Stars (2019)

Publication Date: October 3, 2019
  
historical fiction book club audiobook


The Dutch House (2019)
Ann Patchett

What It's About: At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Dutch House (2019)

Publication Date: September 24, 2019
  
historical fiction book club audiobook


Such A Fun Age (2019)
Kiley Reid

What It's About: LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A REESE'S BOOK CLUB x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK PICK

"The most provocative page-turner of the year." --Entertainment Weekly

"A great way to kick off 2020." --Washington Post

"I urge you to read Such a Fun Age...

See the Full Summary and Review of Such A Fun Age (2019)

Publication Date: December 31, 2019
  
contemporary read in 2020 book club


Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)
Delia Owens

What It's About: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.

But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies...

See the Full Summary and Review of Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)

Publication Date: August 14, 2018
  
book club historical fiction mystery


Circe (2018)
Madeline Miller

What It's About: In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves...

See the Full Summary and Review of Circe (2018)

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
  
fantasy mythology historical fiction


Educated (2018)
Tara Westover

What It's About: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard...

See the Full Summary and Review of Educated (2018)

Publication Date: February 20, 2018
  
non fiction memoir book club


An American Marriage (2018)
Tayari Jones

What It's About: Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined...

Publication Date: January 29, 2018
  
book club contemporary audiobook


Little Fires Everywhere (2017)
Celeste Ng

What It's About: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned--from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules...

See the Full Summary and Review of Little Fires Everywhere (2017)

Publication Date: September 12, 2017
  
book club contemporary audiobook


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (2017)
Gail Honeyman

What It's About: Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy...

See the Full Summary and Review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (2017)

Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  
book club contemporary audiobook

Pachinko (2017)
Min Jin Lee

What It's About: In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan...

See the Full Summary and Review of Pachinko (2017)

Publication Date: February 7, 2017
  
historical fiction book club historical


The Alice Network (2017)
Kate Quinn

What It's About: In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption...

Publication Date: June 6, 2017
  
historical fiction book club historical


The Underground Railroad (2016)
Colson Whitehead

What It's About: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape...

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
  
historical fiction book club historical


A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)
Amor Towles

What It's About: An alternate cover edition of this title can be found here.

He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin...

See the Full Summary and Review of A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)

Publication Date: September 6, 2016
  
book club russia historical


Homegoing (2016)
Yaa Gyasi

What It's About: A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction...

Publication Date: June 7, 2016
  
historical fiction book club africa


The Power (2016)
Naomi Alderman

What It's About: In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect...

Publication Date: October 27, 2016
  
science fiction sci fi book club


The Nightingale (2015)
Kristin Hannah

What It's About: In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent...

Publication Date: October 8, 2015
  
historical fiction book club historical


The Girl on the Train (2015)
Paula Hawkins

What It's About: An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Girl on the Train (2015)

Publication Date: January 6, 2015
  
mystery thriller book club


Between the World and Me (2015)
Ta-Nehisi Coates

What It's About: “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
 
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis...

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
  
non fiction memoir race


All The Light We Cannot See (2014)
Anthony Doerr

What It's About: An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II...

See the Full Summary and Review of All The Light We Cannot See (2014)

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
  
historical fiction book club historical


Station Eleven (2014)
Emily St. John Mandel

What It's About: Set in the days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear...

See the Full Summary and Review of Station Eleven (2014)

Publication Date: September 9, 2014
  
science fiction sci fi dystopian

The Invention of Wings (2014)
Sue Monk Kidd

What It's About: From the celebrated author of the international bestseller The Secret Life of Bees comes an extraordinary novel about two exceptional women.

Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift...

Publication Date: January 7, 2014
  
historical fiction book club historical


Big Little Lies (2014)
Liane Moriarty

What It's About: Sometimes it's the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal...

A murder... a tragic accident...or just parents behaving badly?
What's indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with...

Publication Date: December 25, 2014
  
mystery book club contemporary


A Man Called Ove (2014)
Fredrik Backman

What It's About: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse...

See the Full Summary and Review of A Man Called Ove (2014)

Publication Date: August 27, 2012
  
book club contemporary audiobook


The Goldfinch (2013)
Donna Tartt

What It's About: It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Goldfinch (2013)

Publication Date: September 23, 2013
  
book club contemporary books i own


The Rosie Project (2013)
Graeme Simsion

What It's About: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Rosie Project (2013)

Publication Date: January 30, 2013
  
romance book club contemporary


Orphan Train (2013)
Christina Baker Kline

What It's About: The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask...

Publication Date: April 2, 2013
  
historical fiction book club historical


I Am Malala (2013)
Malala Yousafzai

What It's About: I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price...

Publication Date: November 1, 2012
  
non fiction biography memoir


Americanah (2013)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What It's About: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London...

Publication Date: May 14, 2013
  
book club africa contemporary


Life After Life (2013)
Kate Atkinson

What It's About: What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual...

Publication Date: March 14, 2013
  
historical fiction book club fantasy


Wild (2012)
Cheryl Strayed

What It's About: An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life...

Publication Date: March 20, 2012
  
non fiction memoir book club

Gone Girl (2012)
Gillian Flynn

What It's About: Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction...

Publication Date: April 22, 2012
  
mystery thriller book club


Where'd You Go Bernadette (2012)
Maria Semple

What It's About: Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown...

See the Full Summary and Review of Where'd You Go Bernadette (2012)

Publication Date: August 14, 2012
  
book club humor contemporary


The Round House (2012)
Louise Erdrich

What It's About: Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

One of the most revered novelists of our time - a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life - Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota...

Publication Date: October 2, 2012
  
book club mystery historical fiction


The Martian (2012)
Andy Weir

What It's About: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive...

Publication Date: September 27, 2012
  
science fiction sci fi scifi


The Night Circus (2011)
Erin Morgenstern

What It's About: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Night Circus (2011)

Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  
fantasy romance book club


The Paris Wife (2011)
Paula McLain

What It's About: A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever...

Publication Date: February 27, 2011
  
historical fiction book club historical


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010)
Rebecca Skloot

What It's About: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years...

Publication Date: February 2, 2010
  
non fiction science book club


Room (2010)
Emma Donoghue

What It's About: To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience—and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play...

Publication Date: August 20, 2010
  
book club contemporary books i own


Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (2010)
Helen Simonson

What It's About: You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut...

Publication Date: March 2, 2010
  
book club romance contemporary


The Help (2009)
Kathryn Stockett

What It's About: The wildly popular New York Times bestseller and reading group favorite. Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless...

Publication Date: February 10, 2009
  
historical fiction book club books i own

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2009)
Stephen Chbosky

What It's About: standing on the fringes of life...
offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see
what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being A WALLFLOWER

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school...

Publication Date: February 1, 1999
  
young adult contemporary books i own


Cutting for Stone (2009)
Abraham Verghese

What It's About: A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel - an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa...

Publication Date: February 3, 2009
  
book club historical fiction africa


What Alice Forgot (2009)
Liane Moriarty

What It's About: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old...

Publication Date: May 1, 2009
  
book club chick lit contemporary


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008)
Mary Ann Shaffer

What It's About: #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE ON NETFLIX - A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers...

Publication Date: July 29, 2008
  
historical fiction book club historical


Olive Kitteridge (2008)
Elizabeth Strout

What It's About: At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse...

See the Full Summary and Review of Olive Kitteridge (2008)

Publication Date: March 25, 2008
  
book club short stories pulitzer


People of the Book (2008)
Geraldine Brooks

What It's About: From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war

In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war...

Publication Date: January 1, 2008
  
historical fiction book club historical


Little Bee (2008)
Chris Cleave

What It's About: From the author of the international bestseller Incendiary comes a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers—one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.

Publication Date: August 7, 2008
  
book club africa books i own


The Forgotten Garden (2008)
Kate Morton

What It's About: A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving...

Publication Date: June 1, 2008
  
historical fiction mystery book club


A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)
Khaled Hosseini

What It's About: A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them...

See the Full Summary and Review of A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)

Publication Date: May 22, 2007
  
historical fiction books i own book club


Still Alice (2007)
Lisa Genova

What It's About: Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life...

Publication Date: July 6, 2007
  
book club contemporary books i own

Eat, Pray, Love (2006)
Elizabeth Gilbert

What It's About: A celebrated writer's irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life.

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career...

Publication Date: February 16, 2006
  
non fiction memoir travel


The Book Thief (2006)
Markus Zusak

What It's About: Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow...

Publication Date: September 1, 2005
  
historical fiction young adult books i own


Water for Elephants (2006)
Sara Gruen

What It's About: Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Award for Most Popular Book.

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town...

Publication Date: May 26, 2006
  
historical fiction book club romance


The Thirteenth Tale (2006)
Diane Setterfield

What It's About: All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret...

Publication Date: September 12, 2006
  
mystery book club historical fiction


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006)
John Boyne

What It's About: The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the back cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno...

Publication Date: January 5, 2006
  
historical fiction young adult historical


The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006)
Alison Muriel; Translated from the French by Anderson Barbery

What It's About: A moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television...

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
  
book club france french


The Glass Castle (2005)
Jeannette Walls

What It's About: A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation...

Publication Date: December 15, 2006
  
non fiction non fiction memoir


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005)
Lisa See

What It's About: In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men...

Publication Date: June 28, 2005
  
book club china historical


The Shadow of the Wind (2005)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

What It's About: Barcelona, 1945. Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again...

Publication Date: January 25, 2005
  
historical fiction mystery book club


The History of Love (2005)
Nicole Krauss

What It's About: An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here

Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer...

Publication Date: May 17, 2005
  
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Cloud Atlas (2004)
David Mitchell

What It's About: Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter...

Publication Date: November 13, 2008
  
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003)
Mark Haddon

What It's About: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning...

Publication Date: July 31, 2003
  
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The Namesake (2003)
Jhumpa Lahiri

What It's About: Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. Her stories are one of the very few debut works -- and only a handful of collections -- to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Among the many other awards and honors it received were the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the highest critical praise for its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America...

Publication Date: September 1, 2004
  
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The Secret Life of Bees (2003)
Sue Monk Kidd

What It's About: Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free...

Publication Date: November 8, 2001
  
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The Time Traveler's Wife (2003)
Audrey Niffenegger

What It's About: A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn't stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one...

Publication Date: July 5, 2003
  
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The Devil in the White City (2003)
Erik Larson

What It's About: Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H...

See the Full Summary and Review of The Devil in the White City (2003)

Publication Date: February 11, 2003
  
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Middlesex (2002)
Jeffrey Eugenides

What It's About: Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan...

Publication Date: September 4, 2002
  
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Atonement (2001)
Ian McEwan

What It's About: Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses the flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant...

Publication Date: February 25, 2003
  
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Year of Wonders (2001)
Geraldine Brooks

What It's About: When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition...

Publication Date: June 5, 2001
  
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Bel Canto (2001)
Ann Patchett

What It's About: Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage...

Publication Date: May 22, 2001
  
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Life of Pi (2001)
Yann Martel

What It's About: The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger...

Publication Date: September 11, 2001
  
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Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
Jhumpa Lahiri

What It's About: Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout...

Publication Date: April 20, 1999
  
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House of Sand and Fog (1999)
Andre Dubus III

What It's About: On a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force sees a way to restore his family's dignity in an attractive bungalow available on county auction. But the house's owner, a recovering alcoholic and addict down on her luck, will fight for the one thing she has left. And her lover, a married cop, will be driven to extremes to win her love...

Publication Date: March 1, 2000
  
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White Oleander (1999)
Janet Fitch

What It's About: Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes--each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

Publication Date: September 1, 2001
  
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Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999)
Tracy Chevalier

What It's About: With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age...

Publication Date: August 30, 2005
  
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Plainsong (1999)
Kent Haruf

What It's About: A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go...

Publication Date: October 4, 1999
  
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The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
Barbara Kingsolver

What It's About: The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil...

Publication Date: September 24, 1998
  
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I Know This Much is True (1998)
Wally Lamb

What It's About: On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.

Publication Date: June 14, 1998
  
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The Red Tent (1997)
Anita Diamant

What It's About: Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent...

Publication Date: May 1, 2007
  
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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (1997)
Rebecca Wells

What It's About: When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother gets described as a "tap-dancing child abuser." Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding...

Publication Date: December 7, 2004
  
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Angela's Ashes (1996)
FrankF McCourt

What It's About: Imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion. This is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while...

Publication Date: September 5, 1996
  
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Bridget Jones's Diary (1996)
Helen Fielding

What It's About: Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

"123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)...

Publication Date: June 1, 1999
  
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The Reader (1995)
Bernhard Schlink

What It's About: Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age...

Publication Date: March 10, 1999
  
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994)
John Berendt

What It's About: A sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares...

Publication Date: January 13, 1994
  
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A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)
John Irving

What It's About: Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying...

Publication Date: March 28, 1989
  
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The Remains of the Day (1989)
Kazuo Ishiguro

What It's About: An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here.

The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving “a great gentleman...

Publication Date: September 12, 1990
  
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The Alchemist (1988)
Paulo Coelho

What It's About: Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids...

Publication Date: April 15, 2014
  
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The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
Margaret Atwood

What It's About: Audie Award, Fiction, 2013



Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Temple Grandin, Homeland) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time...

Publication Date: July 22, 2014
  
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Rebecca (1938)
Daphne Du Maurier

What It's About: A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house's first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.

Publication Date: November 29, 2020
  
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I, Claudius (1934)
Robert Graves

What It's About: Into the 'autobiography' of Clau-Clau-Claudius, the pitiful stammerer who was destined to become Emperor in spite of himself, Graves packs the everlasting intrigues, the depravity, the bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, soon to culminate in the deified insanity of Caligula...

Publication Date: October 23, 1989
  
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