I am in two book clubs. We often read the same books so this list is of my Top Ten Book Club selections for 2010 though I may have read the book last year, but I discussed it in at least one club this year. I am basing my decision on these criteria: readability, value to me (did I learn something new?), and the discussion that the book generated. Please let me know the titles and authors of books you have used in your book clubs that meet these criteria. We are always looking for good discussion books. Thank you.
Top Ten Book Club Selections for 2010
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett-set in the South in the early to mid 1960s. Black maids are raising white children who grow up and become racist like their parents. This superbly-written book was almost life-altering to read...it really made us think! It generated excellent discussions in both groups. Even if you aren't in a book club, read this book.
2. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann-a series of interconnected stories that are all somehow related to the man who walked between the twin towers of World Trade Center back when it still being built. Though I loved this book, it wasn't everyone's favorite read, we all learned a tremendous amount about the event. The writing is terrific, too.
3. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout-set in Maine, we are introduced to Olive Kitteridge , a retired teacher and wife to the town's pharmacist, through 13 interconnected tales. Each story has something to do with the community where Olive is either the main character or a bit player. Olive isn't a very likable person. We had a vibrant and diverse discussion about this book. Is it possible to like a book when you don't like the main character? I did. I liked this book a lot.
4. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein- Set in the Seattle area so we all enjoyed cultural/geographic references that we recognized. The premise sounds hokey---a dog narrating about his master who likes to race cars and does it especially well in the rain---but it totally works and is very touching. We found lots to talk about, and everyone seemed to enjoy the book.
5. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan-This is a junior book that won the Pura Belpre Award the year it was published. Though we don't often read children's books when we do we are usually delighted. The read was very simple about a young girl who is forced to immigrate with to America from Mexico during the 1930s to work as migrant workers. The gal who hosted the club for this book actually grew up in the part of California were the story was set. We had a fabulous and rich discussion.
6. City of Thieves by David Benioff- set in during WWII during the siege of Leningrad, this story is part historical fiction and part funny story. I learned about an aspect of WWII that I didn't know before and enjoyed myself at the same time. We had a fun discussion, too.
7. Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Gunn--a riveting non-fiction account about the life and disappearance of explorer Percy Fawcett in the Amazon back in the 1930s. Part travel guide, part action/ adventure tale we all found it immensely readable and very interesting. We all learned a lot.
8. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford--Set in Seattle at the beginning of WWII, this is the story of friends (one Chinese-American, one Japanese-American), and their experiences with prejudice, internment, lost love, and having to leave possessions behind in the Panama Hotel (where some still remain today.) A very interesting story with plenty of local history to contemplate.
9. McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland by Pete McCarthy--part travel journal, part hilarious stories. I think we all decided that we wanted to visit Ireland after reading and discussing this book.
10. Couch by Benjamin Parzybok--this was the zaniest book we read last year and many of the book club members didn't appreciate the humor of this tale, an epic journey similar to the Lord of the Rings where the object of fascination is a couch not a ring. This book is hilarious. I love it. This is my blog, so I can add it to the list even if it wasn't well received by many others!
What books have worked well for your book clubs? Please share your favorites!