We all know New Years Resolutions are difficult to keep, but if you’re going to keep one of the many, you ought to keep the one in which you begin a book club or become a member of one. Books are fun in general, but they’re even more fun when you get to discuss them once a week or once a month with people reading the same book! Who didn’t love school discussions? Come on.
My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
A book about two different women in two different parts of the world, but of the same ethnicity, My Year of Meats will provide quite the outrageous discussion. This book is a great look into Asian American and Asian cultures, as well as into the meat producing industry. It will gross you out, it will make you cry, and it will make you laugh out loud. Bonus: if you like books packed full of sexual innuendos, you’re going to love it.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Written in the form of a memoir of a woman called Offred, this book is almost a cautionary tale such as George Orwell’s 1984 was. Although it seems the world is run by men, it is a woman’s world. Women are the only people who can increase the population in a society where infertility is becoming increasingly an issue. Handmaids are women who reproduce for men whose wives are infertile. The book raises questions about issues such as human trafficking, discrimination, and basic human rights.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
A book interested in the effect of parent’s success on their children’s lives, This Interestings is about various children who feel that being interesting is a necessity. Jules, the narrative voice, wonders how wonderful life would be if people could be whoever they want and not need to be interesting to everyone who meets them.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Germany during World War II, the main character, Leisel, was left in foster care when her brother died and her mother went missing. She begins to steal books as a way of getting back what was taken from her. She is not a Jew, so she is safe from being sent to a concentration camp, but she is close enough to Munich to see people being taken there. The book is borderline Young Adult, but provides enough discussion to be read in a book club. Plus, it reaffirms the idea that a book is valuable, which is why it is worth stealing.
For Today I Am A Boy by Kim Fu
A book about belonging–to a place or to a gender. The protagonist is born a boy, but wants to be a girl. The father is determined to westernize his family as much as possible, keeping them from speaking or cooking in Cantonese. This is a great book for discussions on gender, race, and family dynamics.
Lucky by Alice Sebold
This is a book that will cause unease inside of you; it holds a mirror up to society and forces us to look into it. The main character is raped and beaten as a college freshman and must go through the process of being questioned by the police and the defense attorney of the rapist. It is not just a book about rape and society’s views on it, but also the story of a young woman learning to cope with the violent upheaval of her life and the community she lives in.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Originally published under the pseudonym of Victoria Lucas, this book was published by the author three years after her death. Some argue that it can be read as an autobiography due to the close relation to Plath’s life. A young woman, Esther, is a virgin when she moves to a new city to guest edit for a magazine. She struggles with depression, and when she is sent to a facility to help her sickness, electro-shock therapy is used, and she becomes more depressed and attempts suicide. This book is eerie and you will never forget it.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The narrator, Holden Caulfield, is an angry young teenager recalling three days at his prep school. Written in 1951, it is one of the first coming of age novels, though it was not labeled so at the time it was published. It is a book packed full of reality, profanity, and dark humor. There’s been a lot of praise and criticism of it over the years, so adopting it into your book club would be fun!
Bonus: it’s a quick, fun, easy read. Definitely difficult to put down.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Can you imagine an entire race of people being something of a fairy tale? Like aliens are to humans, black children didn’t know white people existed because neither race crossed the imaginary border of their communities. Angelou’s autobiography will leave you wondering if she’s telling a truthful account of her life because it is so incredible. The amount of horrifying things she experienced in her childhood and early teenage years is eye-opening and shocking. There is a ton of discussion to be had with this book, and it will definitely be an exciting discussion of racial discrimination in 1930s and 1940s America.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
An emotional story based in Afghanistan, this book will open your eyes to the struggles of women in that part of the world. It explores the relationships between mother and daughter, as well as the role of women in Afghanistan. It is certainly a tear-jerker, and one that really must be read in order to truly understand and appreciate women in other parts of the world, as well as teach us to be happy for how lucky American women are to live in such a wonderful world where we do not have to cover our faces in public.
There you have it! My list of books for your book club. Hopefully this list will inspire you in the same way in which it inspired me to pick up some new books and dust off some old ones!