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At the reference desk we often receive requests from book club members to recommend books for their group to read. While there are many wonderful books published each year, not every good book makes for a great book discussion. In fact, some of the books that make for the most vibrant discussions are the ones that cause disagreement among members! Here are a few books I have read that I think would make for lively discussions:
Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh
In 2002 there is a scandal brewing in Boston – priests all over the city are being accused of pedophilia and it has shocked the Catholic community. Father Arthur Breen, who has been quietly and loyally serving his South Boston parishioners for over twenty years, is accused of molesting a young boy with whom he shared a close friendship, and his sister Shelia immediately comes to his side to defend him, even when he will not defend himself. Haigh explores many themes of faith, loyalty, and family in this poignant story.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Beginning on the last night of 1937 in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey Kontent and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to befriend the handsome and wealthy Tinker Grey, Rules of Civility follows Katey through her whirlwind year as she moves from a Wall Street secretary to the glittering world of New York’s elite. Determined to make a better life for herself, Katey enters the orbit of Manhattan’s high society and sees firsthand the benefits that wealth and privilege can bring, but also the insecurities and disloyalties that lurk below the surface. Reminiscent of books by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton, this book is a gem.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The enchanting Le Cirque des Rêves arrives with no notice and is only open after nightfall. Within the boundaries of the circus are incredible delights and mind-boggling marvels, but behind the scenes of the circus a fierce competition is taking place between Celia and Marco, two magicians who have been trained from childhood to outdo the other and to ultimately emerge as champion. If your book club enjoyed books such as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern should be a hit with your members.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This dark tale of a mother trying to come to terms with her guilt in the aftermath of a brutal school shooting perpetrated by her seventeen year old son is sure to spark an interesting discussion. The story is told through a series of letters to her estranged husband, as Eva reflects on Kevin’s childhood and how she may have contributed to turning him into the kind of boy who would commit such a horrific crime. Disturbing, yet riveting, this is a story that lingered with me long after I turned the final page.
A few more of my favorite book club picks are: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Please stop by the Reference Desk at the Hilton Head Library and tell me about which books have produced great discussions in your book club!