Book Club Recommendations for Book Clubs that Really Discuss the Books

I belong to a book club formed of women who were tired of being in book clubs where no one actually read or discussed the books. We made our own book club, for people who wanted to read and talk about the books. 

Here’s a list of books worth discussing:

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

by Alexandra Fuller

Fuller’s account of life in Rhodesia is filled with details that bring immediacy and even charm to the experience of a child living in troubled times. Fuller’s family life would have been troubled in the best of times, but the juxtaposition of the political with the personal upheaval make a touching story. The relationships among the people are enough to spark plenty of conversation, but we were also moved by the ways that world events touched people, how much responsibility they bore, and how they responded to those events.

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Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America

Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America

by Laura Shapiro

Here in the United States, the route we took from really cooking real food ourselves to accepting industrial substitutes was full of interesting twists and turns, and this book follows them through ideas about economics, gender roles, and the occasional political scandal. Excerpts from vintage books and magazines give an insight into the time period, and there are even directions for some truly horrifying dishes. Spam and canned macaroni casserole, anyone?

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To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog

by Connie Willis

The title of this book comes from Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog), and those who’ve read that will enjoy the allusions. Time travel aficionados will enjoy the plausible approach to both the technical and philosophical quandaries of the genre. Everyone else can just enjoy the complexity of the story, the pluckiness of the heroine, and the cleverness with which Willis weaves complex ideas into an exciting story.

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This book also appears on In Honor of Darwin, A Menagerie of Species

 
 
Possession: A Romance

Possession: A Romance

by A.S. Byatt

Possession is worth reading just for the suspenseful story and complex characters. But the author has also created a pair of Victorian poets so convincing that I had to look them up to be sure they were fictional, and the degree of control over language that this shows is reflected also in the descriptive passages of the book. Be prepared for lots of disagreement over what everyone should and shouldn’t have done.

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The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

by Thomas L. Friedman

No one's going to get lyrical about Friedman’s language: this book reads much like a corporate presentation. But the ideas are fascinating. Friedman describes an entirely new approach to work and productivity — not a search for our country’s place in the world nor yet our company’s, but our own — made possible and perhaps inevitable by new technologies. With an unconcern about the moral issues of globalization that allow a very abstract examination of it, Friedman may offend and intrigue everyone equally.

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Mr. White's Confession

Mr. White's Confession

by Robert Clark

Multiple points of view help keep the mystery of this story mysterious, and the writing keeps the reader caring about the characters. In the meantime, there are some very interesting ideas about memory and responsibility, human relationships and love, good and evil, time and truth. Our book club didn’t agree on what exactly had happened in the story, but we all enjoyed contemplating the philosophical questions it raised.

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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

Rhys is an underappreciated novelist. This book — a prequel of sorts for Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre — is both lovely and disturbing. The varieties of human relationships, power, powerlessness, love, hatred, madness, and colonialism all come up as you read this book, and yet the physical setting is as much a character in the book as the people are.

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