What should we read next? It’s a question that can spark excitement and dread in equal measure. There’s a wealth of books out there, but which ones will make for a great book club book — something that people will enjoy reading, but that will also prompt meaningful discussion?
The first step is to come up with some options. Bookclubs can help you discover the best book club books for your club to read!
- To find some tried and tested titles that are great for book club discussion, check out our list of the most popular book club books, based on what the thousands of clubs on Bookclubs are reading right now.
- To get book recommendations that are tailored to you — based on what you’ve read and liked — check out our personalized book recommendations (and don’t forget to add and rate books you’ve read to get the best possible recommendations)
Bookclubs also has some great features that make choosing a book with your club easier:
- Suggest a book to your club by adding it to your club’s joint Books We Want to Read shelf with a quick note about why you think it would be a great book club pick!
- Create a book poll to let your club members vote on your next read. You can even autopopulate the poll with selections from your club’s Books We Want to Read shelf!
If your club isn’t set up on Bookclubs yet, create your account today! It’s easy and free.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few choices, here are five questions that will help you decide which one to pick!
- Is it likely to spur a good discussion? Ever had a book that everyone in your club really enjoyed reading, but when you all got together, you just didn’t have much to say about it? It’s the worst! In our experience, books spur animated discussions when:
- They teach you something new or explore topics you didn’t know much about
- They have multi-dimensional protagonists who make murky decisions or aren’t strictly good or bad
- They force you to take the point of view of someone unlike you
- Does someone in your club have personal experience with the theme or setting of the book? When someone in your club has expertise or experience with the setting (place or time period) or themes of the book - whether fiction or non-fiction - it adds a lot of richness to the conversation. For example, my grandmother was born in Korea but grew up in Japan, so I had a lot to share when discussing Pachinko! As another example, a few lawyers in my book club added nuance and insight to our discussion of the legal obstacles Channel Miller faced in her moving memoir, Know My Name.
- How long is it? This may just be the most important consideration! Many a lengthy tome has been a book club killer (for my Brooklyn book club in 2006 it was Midnight’s Children, at 526 pages). Even if a long book is great (and Midnight’s Children is fantastic!), everyone in your club needs to have the time to read it, and we’ve all got a lot going on. If you do want to pick a lengthier option, here are some strategies to make sure it doesn’t weigh your club down:
- Give yourself a long lead time. Pick a shorter book or two for the months leading up to the longer book to give members some extra reading time to get ahead
- Split it into sections. If your club meets every month, split the book into 2-3 parts and discuss it over multiple meetings
- Pair it with a movie. Consider picking a longer book that has been adapted into a movie or tv series. If some people can’t get through the book, they can watch instead and still participate in the discussion
- Move on. What kills a book club is to keep pushing the meeting date back in the hopes that everyone will finish the book. At some point, you just need to call it. Anyone who hasn’t finished can either join and accept spoilers (or split your meeting in half and they can leave early), or skip out on this particular meeting. Every once in a while, that’s okay!
- What is the book’s availability? Not everyone has the resources to buy a new book every month. My club tries to read a mix of new releases and older titles for just that reason (older titles are much more likely to be available at the library without at 7 month wait time)
- What else have you read recently? Some clubs are focused on a specific genre, but many others like to mix it up. If you’ve been reading a lot of lengthier novels (see above), is it time to try a short story collection? If you’ve been reading romantic fiction, what about a memoir?
What else do you think about when choosing a book for book club? Sound off in the comments below!