Books My Book Club Actually Discussed

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Books My Book Club Actually Discussed

I am lucky to have been a part of an incredible book club for the last 10 years. We are over 40 women strong and meet once a month. Usually the host picks the book title and everyone brings a treat to share and a bottle of wine.

It is rare that all forty of us show up – kids, jobs, LIFE often get in the way; but no matter, we get always get at least a handful of people together to attempt to talk about the monthly selection. We have hosts who are quite structured in how they lead discussion about their books, and others who are more casual but always bake a dessert to match the theme of the evening. Some book discussions are brief before sidebar conversations take over. Sometimes the book takes a back seat to supporting each other.

And then there are books we can’t stop talking about! Some fiction, some not; some well written, some not! For one reason or another though, these 9 books sparked conversations, debates, revelations, and made for great book club discussions.

1. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. This is a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. Intertwines a beautiful coming of age story with the historical build up to World War II and rowing. Absolutely the best book I read last year. Lead to a great discussion about overcoming obstacles, persistence, athletics, family, love and devotion.

2. Heft by Liz Moore. Fascinating interweaving of two characters – one a middle aged obese agoraphobic, the other a struggling high school baseball player. Wonderful discussion about family, loss, addiction, and our own personal struggles with weight.

3. Jim the Boy by Tony Earley. Coming of age novel about a 10 y.o. boy being raised by his uncles in Depression-era North Carolina. Our lengthy discussion revolved around the beautifully crafted characters and the brilliant style of Earley’s writing. We also talked a lot about our own young boys.

4. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. A modern day take on Hamlet, this book tells the story of a family of dog breeders in rural Wisconsin. Another strong discussion that revolved around the fantastic writing in this debut novel. We talked about our own dogs, betrayal, family.

5. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. Dystopian society where books and reading are no longer valued. This book lead to one of our best and longest discussions ever. We talked about the future of print media, wondered if our kids were going to grow up glued to their electronic devices, censorship, dating, and so much more.

6. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katerine Boo. Based on years of reporting and interviewing families living in a Mumbai slum. Our discussion had so many levels – shock over the extreme poverty and desperation, awe over the will of the human spirit to survive at all costs, bewilderment over the responsibility of a stand-aside journalist who knows she can only truly make a difference by writing about what she sees without directly interfering.

7. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Desperate characters longing for attention with interweaving stories and a beautiful tale about love. We were all captivated by this book. The characters and the depth of the emotions they conjured were almost overwhelming and completely unforgettable and we talked about it for hours.

8. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This is a fictionalized telling of a real life hostage situation in Lima, Peru in 1996. In the book terrorists overtake the Japanese embassy, holding dozens of men and one woman, a world-famous opera singer, hostage. Explores relationships developed between terrorist and hostage. Another fantastic and long discussion about loyalty and love, and of course, the power of music. Added bonus: Opera Cake was served!

8. The Necklace: Thirteen Women and The Experiment That Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis. True story of 13 women who bought and shared a diamond necklace. Not the best book we’ve ever read, but absolutely one of our best discussions ever. We talked about friendship, privilege, class, coveting, jewelry, husbands, divorce, children and so much more.

9. Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Fascinating non-fiction selection about ultra-running, the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico, anthropology and the sneaker industry. None of us could put it down even though many of us have never enjoyed running personally. Fascinating discussion about marketing, endurance, cultures.

What book has YOUR Book Club actually discussed?  Please share!

About Anne McKernan

Once upon a time Anne McKernan, a very tired mother of two, walked in to a library ... the next thing she knew she was leading her town library's story time programs. Read more at


  1. I’m not apart of a book club, sadly, but I’ve always wanted to be. I just can’t seem to find one around where I live. Maybe that will be a goal in 2014 and if I can’t find one, maybe I should just make one. 😉 Thanks for the book suggestions, I’ve written them down.

    • Great goal! Check out local bookstores and libraries, sometimes they have book clubs. I’ve also been in book clubs where I got one or two people who shared an interest in starting a club and I asked them to each bring an additional friend. Or try hanging a poster at your kid’s school, church, grocery store or library! There are also on-line book clubs! I love mine – and it MAKES me read. Yes, I love to read and read all the time, but when things get busy I slack off sometimes – I am much more eager to read regularly if I know I have a deadline!! Please let us know what you think of the books!

  2. I’m not in a book club, but yours sounds like a lot of fun. I’m looking for something different to read since I’ve been in a rut, so I must check into some of these.
    Visiting from A to Z ~

  3. You’re so lucky! Like some of the other commentators, I would love to be a member of a really good book club. Hard to find! I am, however, a huge fan of libraries… Magical portals to the unknown! (

  4. I would love to join a book club, I was part of one for a few months at university but I only attended a couple of sessions. I’ll have to see if I can find one nearby.
    I’m an A to Z helper this year, so I’ll be checking back to make sure everything’s OK 🙂

    • Thank you for helping Laura – I think we are off to a great start! I hope you can find or start a book club soon! Please let us know if you try any of these books!

  5. Loved the insight on why the books made the top 9 list. But why 9 instead of the traditional Top 10?
    Happy A to Z blogging. I will come back with interest to see what is next.

  6. I’ve always wanted to be part of a club. But soon, when I move to Scotland over the summer. Read about my adventures with Literature

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