"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2011 Best Book Club Discussion Books

2011 Book Club favorites. I am in two book clubs. Out of the 24 books I read here are my favorites. 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.
My 2014 Book club Favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2013 Book Club Favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2012 Book Club favorites are here. Click the link.
My 2010 Book Club favorites are here, if you are looking for more suggestions click the link.

1. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese...set in Ethiopia starting in the 1960s this book had me from page one. It looks daunting at over 500 pages but it was pure pleasure to both read and discuss.  We discussed this book last January and I knew at that time that this would be my favorite book of the year, and I was right. I think it was the favorite of all gals in my club, too.

2. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan...set in Mississippi in the 1940s, post WWII, when heroes of the war come home they had to face racism and discrimination. This book gave us a lot to discuss and to think about. We were all very disturbed by the truth behind the story.

3. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson...Memories define us. What if every time you went to sleep you would wake with no memory of the previous day? That was Christine's reality. The book, which is a bit of an un-funny 50 First Dates, has a very sinister side and a compelling mystery. We all enjoyed the book and had a lively discussion.

4. Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Halloway...a nonfiction account of Ms. Halloway's Peace Corp experience working with a midwife in a village in Mali. The story was both revealing and heart-breaking. Our club had much to discuss and digest as we learned about life in rural Africa and the hardships that most women face in their culture.

5.  The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan...another nonfiction selection, this book was about a huge forest fire in the early 1900s, the beginning of the Forest Service and the progressive politics of Teddy Roosevelt. We all learned a lot and had fun comparing notes of what we knew about the events prior to reading the book. I almost overdosed on the book, though. I attended three book club discussions on it and a special event with the author.

6. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan...events from the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney and their clandestine affair. The book beautifully mingles facts and fiction. We were all captivated by the story and had lots to discuss and debate. Many felt little sympathy for Mamah because she left her children to be with Frank. If you haven't read this book yet I highly recommend it. 

7. Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins...The love story of Ray and Opal set against happenings of the first part of the 20th Century. I loved and hated this book in equal measure. The story was interesting and compelling. The writing, however, really frustrated me as Wiggins did not use typical literary conventions like quotations marks for dialogue. I would find myself having to read the book slower and reread sections to follow along. Others in my club liked this book better than I did. We all fell in love with the lovers in the tale, however.

8. Lottery by Patricia Wood...a young man, Perry, who has an IQ of 76, wins the lottery. This is the story of how his life changed and all the disreputable characters who wanted to get their hands on the money.  The book was an easy, simplistic read but we had a spirited discussion that was just downright fun.

9. Faith by Jennifer Haugh...both a mystery and indictment of the Catholic Church scandal this book gave us plenty to contemplate and discuss. It certainly gave us a chance to stop and realize that for every headline about the Catholic priests and their scandals we probably never heard both sides of the story.

!0. Crashing Through: A Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See by Robert Kurston... Mike May was blinded at age three and then at age 40 had an operation to restore his eyesight.  This book recounts his journey both before and after that surgery.  I don't think anyone particularly liked the book but the scientific information in the book was fascinating about vision especially related to the ability to recognize faces and other items in our environment. The gal who was to led the discussion asked, "What did you think of the book?" That was the only question she had to ask. We all had so much to say.  This was by far the best discussion we had on a book this year.

Check out my favorite 2012 Book Club Selections here.
Check out my 2013 favorite book club selections here.
Check out the 2014 Book Club favorites here.


  1. Great list--I would agree with you on all but #3. I wasn't a huge fan of it, although it was an interesting discussion. (which I know is part of the decision) Maine was like that for me; I didn't care much for the book itself, but our discussion was fascinating.

  2. Great list. I'll keep them in mind for my Book Club. I've been in a book club for a year and a half and the best discussions we've had were with the following books: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, Persuasion by Jane Austen, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

  3. The only book I've read on this list is Loving Frank, which I enjoyed! I'm very interested in Monique and the Mango Rains. I primarily blog to share my thoughts, and get new suggestions for, YA reads, but it's fine to learn about new "grown up" books every now and then too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. You've got a lot of the same books we've read: Cutting for Stone; Mudbound; Monique and the Mango Rains; and Loving Frank, all of which I really liked. Monique and the Mango Rains has stayed with me the longest in terms of books I think about randomly.

    One of my book groups just read Born to Run by McDougal and Nothing to Envy by Demick, both of which are non-fiction and really interesting

  5. I have been meaning to read Cutting for Stone for such a long time. What did you not enjoy about Crashing Through? I read it long ago and liked it well enough, but I do remember not wanting to spend a ton of time on the elliptical which is where I was reading it. It wasn't god enough to keep me reading.


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