This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the top ten books that would make great book club picks. Some of these books I have actually read with a book club; others I haven’t, but I think they might make for good discussion.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer: It’s a book about book clubs! What could be better to read with a book club?
- Moloka’i, Alan Brennert: This might be because I just chose it for my book club, but I think it would be great for discussion, especially because it’s a good story, but it has some flaws.
- The Paris Wife, Paula McLain: I think this one would be great for literary book clubs who want to learn more about Hemingway and his circle.
- The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry: It might be fun to bring the dishes described in the book to the meeting. I also think discussing adult Asperger’s would make for an interesting evening.
- The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters: I picked this mostly because I would like to talk about the ending and see what everyone else thinks happened at the end.
- The Help, Kathryn Stockett: I liked this one a lot and see it being a good book to talk about when you’re done with it. I could even see a good discussion about whether it’s another in the long line of “white people solve racism” books/movies.
- The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins: Marian and Count Fosco are great characters. So was Frederick Fairlie. He’s hysterical, in fact. I think it might be interesting to talk about how Collins popularized some of those tropes we consider clichés.
- The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde: There is so much bookish fun in this one. I think book nerds would really like reading and talking about it.
- The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry: I am not sure it would appeal to everyone in the group, but it has a classic unreliable narrator, and those always make for juicy discussion. Plus you could try to brew up some “Difficul-tea” and try out lace reading (if you can figure it out).
- Madame Bovary’s Ovaries, David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash: The premise of this book is that you can explain the behavior of some characters in great literature through evolutionary psychology. It’s an interesting read. It’s sure to generate some discussion; I can’t imagine you’d get a whole group to agree on whether or not the authors are right. It serves the dual purpose of making you interested in the literature they discuss, too. The Goodreads reviews on it are all over the place.
Honorable mentions: Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt (only left out of top ten because everyone’s surely read it by now); and Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland.
First, the good news is that I was able to generate quite a lot of interest in a book club among the teachers at my school. They graciously allowed me to select our first book, and I chose Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s a perfect book for book clubs, and I believe I had read as much somewhere, but I’m not sure where. I was taken by the title.
The book is populated with memorable characters who tell their story through letters. As this is one of only a handful of epistolary novels I’ve read, I’ll call it a unique storytelling device that works well to reveal the plot. Much better, in fact, than I think a straight narrative would have because it allows for the otherwise risky device of multiple narrators to work much better. The novel is the story of a writer named Juliet Ashton, who reminded me of Dorothy Parker. I’ll be curious to see if my book club members thought of her, too. By chance, Dawsey Adams, a pig farmer on the Channel Island of Guernsey comes upon one of her books in a used book store, and he enjoys it so much that he writes to her. Over time, Juliet develops friendships with Dawsey and his friends, who formed the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society during Germany’s occupation of the island during World War II.
Any book focused on a setting ought to leave the reading feeling a desire to visit, and that’s precisely how I felt. I have never thought even once in my life of going to Guernsey, but just like John Berendt’s characters in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil bring the city of Savannah to life and have caused a cottage industry around tourism related to the book, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn something similar happens to Guernsey; however, increased tourism will likely depend on how popular the book becomes. My favorite books — the ones I couldn’t put down even if they were not literature with a capial L — were all populated with memorable, realistic characters I wish I could know in real life, and now I have one more book to add to that list.
My parents, in their infinite wisdom regaring gift giving, have made it an annual practice to give me a bookstore gift card for my birthday. I nearly let the month go by before I shared my purchases this month with you.
This year, my selections were heavy on the Shakespeare, probably due to the fact that I took a class on teaching Shakespeare through the Folger Shakespeare Library in June.
I only hope I get a chance to read it all soon.
I started a reading group at my school. I was surprised by the reception! We have a good 15 interested teachers, which at my school is approaching half the faculty! We are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I need to get started on that one or I won’t be ready for our first meeting.