What factors lead to successful Book Club Reads? Book clubs are made up of individual readers; so as we might expect, choices can be personal and passionate. Are there common denominators that make for successful book club choices? Discussion and deeper understandings are goals for most clubs. Does the book offer the possibility of varied viewpoints? Are there points to discuss? Seems to me there are always aspects of character, plot, writing, ideas, you name it, to be discussed. When experienced readers get together it’s likely varied viewpoints will attend the meeting.
Broad appeal and availability are usually considered important. These days with electronic readers becoming more and more popular, access to particular books is less of an issue. Members usually consider a book more successful for their group if the majority of the members find it interesting and enjoyable. If too many hate it, not a good choice.
Is the book well-written? Is there interesting structure? What of clearly and beautifully written sentences? What do you think adds up to a successful book club choice?
Whether you personally are looking for a good read, or your book club is making decisions, I offer the recent choices of two book clubs for your consideration.
Any Bitter Thing. Monica Wood.
Here are characters who struggle with heartbreak and loss. Different voices create a moving experience for the reader. A profile of Monica Wood was posted on the Writing page of this blog on July 10, 2014 under the title “Meet Monica Wood.”
Annie’s Ghost. Steve Luxenberg. Non-fiction.
Chosen as a notable Michigan book for 2010. Memoir, mystery, history. A story of searching family secrets and family heartbreak at Eloise Hospital, a bygone psychiatric facility in Wayne, MI.
Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.
This historical novel tells the story of a woman who accompanies the young Louise Brooks to NYC in the 1920’s and the changes that await them. Readers I’ve talked to are enthusiastic about this book and this author.
The Invention of Wings. Sue Monk Kidd.
This novel has been on the NYT Best Sellers List for a number of weeks. It is about the relationship between a wealthy girl who will become a prominent abolitionist and the slave who is a gift to her on her eleventh birthday. Those who have read this book liked it very much.
Necessary Lies. Diane Chamberlain.
A young social worker defies conventional thinking in 1960’s North Carolina. Ms. Chamberlain is a popular author with many novels to her credit. To my surprise, this story and its characters have stayed with me.
Orphan Train. Christina Baker Kline.
This novel can be placed on the shelf titled: Made Popular By Its Readers. It tells the story of the past and present of an orphan taken from the streets of New York and transported west to a new home in the 1920s.
The Secret of Raven Point. Jennifer Vanderbees.
Book review available on this blog under the title, “Mystery, History, Romance” posted on Aug. 4, 2014
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Gabrielle Zevin. Novel.
This story is set in a bookstore. I recently heard from a reader who loved this book. See “Five Things to Like about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” posted on this blog on June 4, 2014.
Molokai. O. A. Bushnell.
This is a work of fiction based on the history of a leper colony in Hawaii during the late nineteenth century. Not a new book and an unexpected pick, perhaps. We shall see if book club readers like this one.
Do let us know if you would recommend one of these for your book club? Everyone likes to hear ideas on book picks.