I belong to three book clubs - one here at Bookends, another the Myrtle Beach Book Club and the third, an online book club through Book Browse. That means that on a monthly basis I read at least two, sometimes three, books which I did not choose. These clubs have been great lessons for me, not only in literature and selection of books, but also in ideas. Not everyone enjoys all the books we read, not all agree in the discussions we have, but the variety of books and ideas have been eye-opening.
I always finish a book club book, even if I didn't like it. It may take me some time to read it and I may intersperse other books to keep me going but if I am going to go to book club and participate, I read the book. I think that is respectful to the other members of the club. I understand that things come up and a member may not have had a chance to read the book, but then only proffer opinions on what you have read and listen to the discussion.
Here are some books which I think are great book club books as they will generate lots of discussion!
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - We picked this book at the Bookends Book Club first club meeting in October. I loved it! The book follows the lives of a Nigerian couple who have known each other since high school. Ifemelu and Obinze, a young couple in love, live in military ruled Nigeria and so they leave, Ifemelu to America and Obinze to London. But they have a plan to be together and the book is about the plan. The novel is about race, love and identity.
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umgar - I read this book many years ago but it still sticks with me. Set in modern day India this is a novel about the relationship between two people, Sera, an upper class woman whose lifestyle hides her abusive relationship, and Bhima, her servant, who has worked in the household for more than 20 years. The lives of the two woman are interconnected but vastly removed from one another. The book rings with authenticity.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao - This is another book about modern day India. Poornima and her friend Savitha are poor but driven to make the best of their lives. Poornima is given in a cruel and souless marriage and Savitha runs away only to be drugged into a sex slave operation. Despite these hardships they exist, succeed, and eventually find what matters most to them.
The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg - Back to America for this book. This book is about men and women returning to their hometown for a 40th high school reunion. The reunion means something different for each of them - an attempt to save a marriage, a last chance to say something unsaid, a way to escape everyday life. As the evening goes on some things change and some things stay the same for the reunion goers.
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand - So much to talk about in this book! The story is about a family in the summer of 1969 in America. Four siblings in the Levin family experience one of the most tumultuous summers in American history. Blair is in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel to Nantucket to be with her family. Kirby is caught up in civil rights and war protests and determine to be independent on Martha's Vineyard. Tiger is an infantry soldier recently sent to Vietnam and Jessie feels the angst of being thirteen and left on the island with her out-of-touch grandmother and worried mother. It is a coming of age novel, a story of society, and a commentary on family dynamics.
Do you have any books you'd recommend for book club? Let me know.