Book clubs have and will continue to be a wonderful way to read and discuss books, socialize and make friends, enjoy good food and drinks, and get away from the stresses of life. Whether you take turns choosing books for your book club, or you run a book club and choose all of the books, choosing the best book club books is no small task. This article is here to help you select some great books, whether you enjoy historical fiction, crime stories, literary fiction, a good love story, or any other genre. The books on this list will surely get your book club talking.
Book club books are generally books that a wide array of people with a wide variety of interests would enjoy to some degree. Every book club is different, and some focus on one particular genre or area of interest. Book club discussions can be serious or light-hearted, depending on how active your book group is in analyzing the literature.
23 Best Book Club Book Suggestions
The following is a list of books that range in genre, length, and heaviness of tone. These make best book club reading suggestions, and the discussion for each of them can be as involved or as light as desired by book clubs.
1. Before We Were Yours
This book is historical fiction from the 1920s and is based on the true story of tragic events involving a Tennessee Children’s Home. Written by Lisa Wingate, this sometimes gut-wrenching story of children who have been abused, kidnapped, and neglected will open up many discussions, and it packs an emotional punch.
2. The Switch
This is a fiction work by Beth O’Leary about a grandmother and granddaughter who decide to switch places. A fun read, two women separated by decades but both down on their luck, decide to change lives with each other for a couple of months. The granddaughter, a young woman with a hectic life, stays at her grandmother’s house in a tiny, bland, quiet town. The grandmother heads off to the busy, loud, and confusing city to experience what her granddaughter’s life is like.
This is a fascinating story about generational differences and a family story full of emotion, love, and understanding. Great for young women to read who may want to see things from the eyes of an older generation.
3. Dear Mrs. Bird
Emmy gets a job writing for an advice column in the middle of a war. Times are scary and challenging, and women are writing in needing the help of all kinds. Told to only respond to positive questions in which positive answers can be given, Emmy wants her own story in life to be more helpful.
Although she has been told to throw away any frightened or negative needs for help or advice, Emmy starts to write back to these women in need of guidance and friendship, keeping it a secret from everyone else. A touching book written by AJ Pearce, this story focuses on the moral need of one woman to make a difference for those who need it most. A book club treasure, this is a great book that can spark some riveting conversation.
4. A Nearly Normal Family
This is both a thriller and a family drama novel and the story of a pastor’s child accused of killing a businessman. M.T. Edvardsson packs a punch with this absolute page-turner about family dramas played out in a time of great tension, as the pastor does everything he can to keep his teenage daughter out of trouble, regardless of how she may have been involved.
5. Sparks Like Stars
Nadia Hashimi wrote this story about a girl who started with a privileged life, only to have all of that taken away in the blink of an eye when her entire family is killed. Adopted and provided for by a US diplomat, she grows up and becomes a surgeon. When her adopted father ends up as one of her patients, mysteries start to unravel, and this incredible book will keep you interested from start to finish.
The first science fiction novel written by a Black woman is full of twists and turns that will keep any book club on the edge of their seats. The book is also considered historical fiction. It talks about a black woman in the 1970s who gets transported back to antebellum times. She saves a white boy from drowning, and for her good deed, she faces death by the people who should be thanking her.
Octavia E. Butler wrote this book that begs to be discussed at length, and as far as book club novels go, this is an excellent choice if a discussion is the major part of your group.
7. All the Children are Home
This is the story, told beautifully by Patry Francis, of foster parents attempting to balance and master family dynamics. They seem to have finally hit their stride when the foster care system gives them another child. This child, six years old, is not what they bargained for, and things are quickly turned on their head. This is an emotional ride that will also make you think, and this is an excellent book for any book club.
8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
This book by Lori Gottlieb focuses on mental health in a fun, entertaining, and deep way. A therapist, Gottlieb, shares stories from her patients and advice her therapist has given her. A moving and fun read this book will guarantee lively discussion if chosen as one of your book club reads.
9. Whisper Network
If you want your book club to have heated discussions over a book, then this may be the perfect one for you. Divisive in nature, this book by Chandler Baker is a timely novel that tells the story of a group of women who are forced to take matters into their own hands and act.
When the CEO of their company dies, the man about to take his place is someone that every woman thinks is not fit for the job. Armed with all the scandal and secrets that this man has, the women decide to risk everything to stop this man from rising to power. While this is an issue women face in life, some of the elements of this book may often be disagreed with, especially if you have mixed generations, genders, and belief systems within your book club.
10. The Warmth of Other Suns
Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of three people who experienced the Great Migration for Black Americans from the first world war through the 1970s. These three people all move for different reasons and have vastly different motivations and lives, making this story a great one and one that can be related to or felt by many different types of people.
11. The Storyteller
Jodi Picoult delivers a deep, troubling, and beautiful story with this novel. Sage is a baker who has had a troubled past and needs a trusted friend. Josef is a troubled old man who is also lonely and needs friendship. An unlikely pair, they start a beautiful friendship, and the way they can understand each other and be there for each other is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Then, one day, Josef tells Sage a secret about his identity during World War II, and he asks her for help in ending his life because he cannot face the guilt of what he has done any longer. Sage faces a terrible dilemma as she tries to admit that her close friend has done some truly horrible things. She has been forced to make a decision that will forever impact her.
Written by Rainbow Rowell, this is a romance story set in the late 1990s. An IT guy tasked with keeping track of a company’s email and online activity falls in love with a female employee while reading her emails, letters, and other correspondence.
A book meant for casual readers and not at all a deep or overly thought-provoking read. This light and fun story of an attachment made over an internet connection is a great book club pick, especially if your book club has recently read a few books that are heavier in subject matter or darker in tone.
13. Girl A
This thriller, the debut novel by Abigail Dean, is the answer book groups are looking for when reading something that will be read quickly and has an exciting storyline. Referred to as “Girl A”, Lex gets away from an abusive situation that has traumatized her. Thinking she is finally safe from the torments of her past, she gets pulled right back down into it all when her mother dies and leaves her and her siblings the house they grew up in.
This is a thrilling book that is everything good a book needs to get all of its book club members to the end of the story.
14. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Author Robert Dugoni tells the story that proves that we all must deal with what life throws at us and often helps make us who we are. Sam is a young boy who is born with a strange difference. He has red eyes. Tormented by other kids and called the devil, he realizes that his only friends are also outcasts.
This is the beautiful story of a boy learning to accept himself for who he is, accept others for who they are, and come to love imperfections.
15. What Alice Forgot
The last thing that Alice remembers is being a young girl of just 29, in love, and pregnant with her first child. Her husband was her whole world, and she was happy. She was in the hospital—the next thing she knew, ten years had gone by. Unable to remember the past decade, she finds out she is getting a divorce. She has three children. She and her sister are at odds and have a severed relationship, and she is not at all the person she imagined she would be.
Liane Moriarty gives us this stunning story about choice and acceptance. Is Alice better off not remembering the last several years?
16. Long Bright River
Liz Moore gives us the story of two sisters whose lives could not be any more different. One is a police officer, and the other one is an addict. They have nothing to do with each other aside from resenting each other. Until murders occur and a sister goes missing. In a race against time, the sister who is a cop must gather clues and figure things out in time to save her sister.
This is more than just a crime thriller—it is the story of estranged sisters who find each other and themselves on a dangerous journey. This is such a powerful story of forgiveness and love.
17. A Thousand Splendid Suns
This book, written by Khaled Hosseini, takes place over three decades. Mariam is an illegitimate child who finds an arranged marriage with someone decades older than her. She hates her life. Her marriage is terrible, and she feels incredibly alone. Then the family takes in a teenage girl, and things slowly change.
Mariam has a confidante and a new best friend whom she can trust. Things slowly start to turn around as Mariam begins to find her voice.
18. One Italian Summer
With a publication date set for March of 2022, this book seems to be worth the wait. This is a story about grief, acceptance, and new experiences by Rebecca Serle. Katy’s mother and father met in Italy, and the plan was that Katy and her mother would go on a girls’ trip to visit the area of Italy. Then, Katy’s mother dies suddenly. Rather than wallowing, Katy takes the opportunity and goes to Italy anyway, where she is racked by sadness and grief but moved by the beauty and the relationships she is able to begin while there.
This heavy book involves rape culture, a dead body, and race relations. However, it is a book to read as a club if you want to have a great conversation about hard-to-tackled topics.
Tiffany D. Jackson brings us the story of Enchanted, who wants to be a famous singer. She meets a singing legend whom she thinks can help her start a career, and everything goes wrong. She wakes up the following day to find that the man is dead, and she has to deal with the police, what happened, and her dysfunction as a result of the dark and scary character that her “mentor” turned out to be.
20. Fresh Ink: An Anthology
If your book club is full of busy readers or simply prefers shorter works, this is the perfect book. Composed of short stories, a one-act play, and a graphic novel, these are good stories to read all at once or break up into individual stories to keep the conversation flowing over a longer period. Taken story by story, your club will not have to stop talking about each of the compelling tales for several months.
21. Filthy Animals
Brandon Taylor gives the reader a little bit of everything in this book—this is a story of several different people, all from the Midwest. One young man was exploring the world of open relationships, troubled teenagers, and a young woman with cancer. They all live life in the same area, but life cannot be more different. These charismatic characters make for a great read, and their differences keep the reader interested in learning more.
22. The Midnight Library
Matt Haig brings life to the question that we all ask ourselves in this novel: What if? In this book, the protagonist can see what her life would have been like if she had made different choices along the way. A thought-provoking and top-rated book can keep a group engaged and talking.
23. Ask Again, Yes
This is the story of two neighboring families whose drama ranges from being tied together when tragedy strikes to having members fall in love. Spanning many years, this is an excellent book about two families that are just an arm’s length away from each other but often pushed apart.