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6 Best books to suggest to your book club

BY Idman Omar

16th Jan 2023 Must Reads

6 Best books to suggest to your book club

Thinking of starting your own book club? Here are seven must-read books to suggest that are perfect for a discussion around a cheeseboard 

Book clubs bring together those with a shared fondness for reading, but its members are always a tough crowd with high standards, so attempting to please them is a great feat.

Monthly book choices are often required to be popular all-rounders with great plots. They should be thought provoking tales that ignite questions from readers, and they are expected to be stories replete with the ability to be analysed from differing angles. The boundaries are sometimes pushed, with focus perhaps on an uncomfortable topic.

Book club readers like to be challenged and they seem to enjoy books that leave a mark, ones that make readers wonder about them long after they’ve been read. Not all books are universally understood, but these are sure to be a hit.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half Brit Bennett

This is the kind of novel with the ability to cause heated discussions. It follows the identical twins Desire and Stella Vignes, both black women who are light in complexion. They grow up in a small poor town, Mallard, Louisiana, a place obsessed with its residents' skin tones.

At the age of 16, they both run away to New Orleans, and one of the twins decides to begin passing for a white woman. She marries a white man and leaves her twin behind, only for her secrets and lies to make their way back to her. A fantastic story with controversial themes surrounding race, family and wealth that may mean your meetup ends later than planned.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline Neil Gaiman

This may be a children's horror novella, but it has the ability to entertain and disturb adults too. Eleven-year-old Coraline lives at home with her parents. While they work from home, she looks for ways to alleviate boredom, and finds a mysterious locked door that she is very curious to open.

"This book may present talking points on innocence, parents and bravery"

Though her kooky tea reading neighbors, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, warn her not to, she opens the door and is presented with her own life…but slightly different. She meets "Other Mother" and "Other Father" who give her more attention, better food and a pet cat to keep her company.

But things go from bad to worse as she needs to save her real parents and get out of this "Other World" on her own, without getting trapped. This book may present talking points on innocence, parents and bravery.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa Kate Elizabeth Russell

Some describe Russell's My Dark Vanessa as a contemporary Lolita, while others describe it as simply disturbing. The novel follows Vanessa Wye, a student who believed her teacher Jacob Strane was actually in love with her as opposed to grooming her, when he lured her to the bedroom at the age of 15.

Now in her thirties, Strane has been accused again of sexual abuse with a young woman. Vanessa struggles to face the fact that she, too, experienced abuse. This is an uncomfortable read, but a powerful, unique one that deals with complexities sure to cause debate in light of the #MeToo.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The Girl with the Louding Voice Abi Dare

Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice follows Adduni, a 14-year-old girl who gets married off as Morofu’s third wife so her family can get food and money with her bride price. After being abused, she flees to Lagos, determined to find her "louding voice".

"This is a cultural adventure with many twists and shocking turns"

Set in Nigeria, this novel becomes a cultural adventure with many twists and shocking turns as Adunni searches for the education she always wanted. This book choice may leave the room divided when the themes of marriage and women are discussed.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain Douglas Stuart

Set in 1980s Glasgow, Shuggie Bain will stay with you for years after you're done. Hugh "Shuggie" Bain is a timid, sweet young boy living with his brother, sister and mother in Scottish public housing. His mother Agnes is an alcoholic who burdens all her children except Shuggie, who is her best friend and who listens intently to her lies.

Between binges and men, Shuggie stays by her side in this heartbreaking and powerful tale of addiction. A powerful read that will conure up themes of poverty, motherhood, addiction and loyalty.

Educated by Tara Westover

Educated Tara Westover

Educated is a great one to debate over at your monthly meeting. This memoir follows Tara as a young girl growing up in a survivalist Mormon family who do not believe in public education.

"The cold and bizarre truth behind this story will conjure question after question"

She eventually goes against them in order to go to school, and we follow her from Idaho to Cambridge University to complete her PhD while battling her abusive brother and extreme father. The cold and bizarre truth behind this story will conjure question after question.

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