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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books for Book Clubs

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Today’s Top Ten:

Top Ten Books That Should be Part of Every Book Club’s Reading List

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it (William Styron)

Book clubs are funny creatures. For some, they are simply the opportunity to get out and to enjoy the company of friends under the guise of reading the same book. For others, they are more serious endeavours, filled with thoughtful discussion and considered opinions. I’ve been part of book clubs for boys, for teens, and for couples. I’ve read books for books clubs for teachers, for friends, and for relatives. I’ve led discussions that went on for hours, and others that barely lasted thirty-five minutes. There’s even been one club meeting that almost ended in fisticuffs (that was a fun one), but the ultimate point of the book club is to encourage everyone to read. Here’s hoping that you will find something in this list to inspire you and your reading group this autumn.

For the more literary types…

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

Pages: 288, paperback Publisher: Vintage ISBN: 9780307744418

In the 1950’s a twelve-year-old boy travels from Colombo to England by ship. Seated at the Cat’s Table – that is, the furthest away from the Captain’s Table – Michael (for this is, indeed a fictionalized account of the author’s own experiences) makes friends with the two other boys at the table, and three quickly find ways to explore the ship and get into mischief.

As with all of Ondaatje’s books, the language is lush and descriptive, and the story is compelling. An excellent selection, especially if your club is looking for something a little more exotic.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Pages: 335, paperback Publisher: Viking ISBN: 9780670022694

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1937, when young and impressionable Katey Kontent meets banker Tinker Grey and changes her life forever. From speakeasies to Wall Street, secretarial pools to Condé Nast publication offices, and bookended by the photographs of Walker Evans, this is a story of choices and regrets and how our lives can change in an instant.

Also something to note: the 1920’s and 1930’s are a particularly hot time period in literature right now, both for adult and young adult novels.

Gilded Age: a Novel by Claire McMillan

Pages: 256, hardcover Publisher: Simon & Schuster ISBN: 9781451640472

This modernized version of Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” has been gathering a huge following online. It asks questions about self-honesty, independence, feminism, class and gender roles while following Eleanor Hart as she attempts to navigate the social waters following her divorce and rehab stint. An interesting choice, especially if you choose to pair it with Wharton’s classic novel.


For ‘Chick Lit’ fans….

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Pages: 336, softcover Publisher: St. Martin’s Press ISBN: 9781250003454

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen knew more about marriage than anyone else. (Never mind that she never got married herself…)”

This debut novel by Kim Izzo is about a magazine editor who’s asked to write a freelance article about whether it’s possible, in these modern times, to marry for money. As Kate struggles to adapt to life in the recession by taking a freelance job that asks her to apply Austen’s principles in present day, she must come to terms with what she really wants out of her life. It’s a fun read that asks us to consider what is truly important to us – money, love, happiness or some combination thereof.

City of Women by David R. Gilham

Pages: 400, hardcover Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam ISBN: 9780399157769

Set near the end of the Second World War, Berlin has become a city of women with all the men away at the front. Sigrid Schröder waits patiently for her husband to return, caring for her mother-in-law and her children, going to work and trying to survive on the rations provided. Sigrid, though, hides a secret – she dreams of her Jewish lover to get her through the tedium of her days. Nothing changes, until one day when she makes the decision to hide a mother and her two young girls. Her decision to do so may put her life and that of her family in jeopardy, and will change her destiny forever

For those who enjoy the YA Crossover…

The Diviners by Libba Bray (to be published September 18th, 2012)

Pages: 608, paperback Publisher: Little, Brown and Company for Young Readers ISBN: 9780316126113

(From Goodreads) Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City – city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies”. When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help to catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Pages: 288, paperback Publisher: Razorbill ISBN: 9781595141712

A heart-wrenching tale that follows the life of Clay Jensen, as he arrives home one night to find a box of audio cassettes on his doorstep – audio cassettes recorded by Hannah Baker, a former school mate and his secret crush who recently committed suicide. This is a dual narrative book, as Clay tries to understand why he has made Hannah’s list of thirteen reasons for her suicide, and more importantly, why she felt why she had no other option.


The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Pages: 336, paperback Publisher: Dutton Books ISBN: 9780525478812

After being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age twelve, Hazel miraculously manages to survive thanks to some tumour-shrinking trial meds. Now sixteen, Hazel struggles with life after cancer, and resents being chained to an oxygen tank for the rest of her life. Then she meets Augustus and Isaac at a cancer survivor’s support group, and her life view shifts. As her relationship with Augustus develops into something more, Hazel must redefine what is important in her life, and what kind of legacy she wants to leave behind.


For those who like something a little different…

Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories by Randy Bachman

Pages: 240, paperback Publisher: Pintail Books (Penguin) ISBN: 9780670065790

For fans of his CBC Radio show, this is a lovely walk down memory lane as Bachman recounts some of his more famous stories, detailing life on the road as a Canadian rock star for over forty years. What makes this a great read is not necessarily all the stories about the famous people, or the interesting facts behind the writing of some of his most famous tunes. Instead, it’s the fact that even after all this time, Randy is still a star-struck kid who can’t quite believe his good fortune in getting to play the music he loves with some of the greatest musicians of all time.


Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

Pages: 310, hardcover Publisher: Little, Brown ISBN: 9780316109697

Thirty years old, bored with her job, hating her tiny New York apartment, Powell decided to transcend her life by concocting all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking — in a single year. This is a story of self-discovery and of the slow rebuild of self-confidence in one woman’s life. Yes, there was a movie for this one – but be sure to read the book first so you can get the most out of it!


The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale

Pages: 384, paperback Publisher: Walker & Company ISBN: 9780747599227

The dramatic non-fiction story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

(via Goodreads) In June, 1860, three-year old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all of England, and led to a national obsession with detection, all the while destroying the career of the greatest detective in the land. At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher.

When he proposed that the murderer was a member of the family, he was ridiculed and retired a broken man. He would be vindicated five years later, but his true legacy lies in fiction – the tough, quirky, all-knowing and all-seeing detective that we know today.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is non-fiction that reads like a Victorian thriller. This is well worth the read, especially if you are a fan of mystery-thrillers, both contemporary and historical.

Each week Broke and the Bookish will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. Are you a blogger as well? All that’s asked is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it!

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Categorised in: Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday

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