If you’re looking for book recommendations for selections for your book club, I think these yearly wrap up posts are probably the best place to look. Not only do I give the overall rating (including the high score and low score – so you can see the range of opinions), I give a thought or two from the discussion itself. Here’s the wrap up of the 2018-19 year and (several great book recommendations).
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri – 3.98 (high – 4.5; low – 3.5) – Not our first time reading Lahiri, and she’s sure to provide enough fodder for a great discussion – especially a collections of short stories.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – 2.88 (high – 4; low – 2 DNFs) – Short enough to be read in one sitting, and after much discussion, we agreed that this is how it should be read. It received its highest ratings from those who read it in 1-2 sittings. It is too much of a snapshot in time to come back to over and over.
Stoner by John Williams – 4.66 (high – 5; low – 4) – The second highest rated book of the year and one of our groups highest rated ever with five members giving it a perfect score. I’ve been trying to get the group to read this one for several years. Published in 1965, think it is a lost classic.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – 2 (high – 3.5; low – 5 DNFs) – The lowest rated book of the year and quite possibly ever for our group, entirely too long was the general census.
Cane River by Lolita Tademy – 4.34 (high – 5; low – 4) – A re-read for many of us. This epic story from the author’s own family is entertaining, enlightening and engaging. A great pick for a book club.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – 4.34 (high – 4.75; low – 4) – Given Morrison’s passing earlier this year, we were all glad to have one of her favorites fresh on our mind and hearts. Another great selection for a book club discussion.
Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance – 3.18 (high – 4; low – DNF) – One of the more divisive memoirs of recent years, our group focused less on how accurate the portrayal was and more on the quality of the writing (not great in our opinion). Decent discussion, but might be better paired with another book of similar genre (Educated, The Glass Castle, Breaking Night, etc.)
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – 4.84 (high – 5; low – 4) – The highest rated of the year and ranks in the top ten of all time for many of us. This novel has much to discuss – characters, themes, plot – so plan well and allow more time than normal. It also has some of the most beautiful prose that exists in contemporary fiction.
The Book Thief by Markus Zysak – 4.25 (high – 4.75; low – DNF) – Scored remarkably well for how tired many of us are of WWII fiction. The personification of Death – something you must know going in – differentiates this one from the others.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – 2.8 (high – 3.75; low – 2.5) – The first of two newer award-winning novels that just didn’t deliver the goods.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward – 2.85 (high – 4; low – DNF) – The second novel by Ward to win awards, the opinions on Sing Unburied Sing were a bit wider than those for the book from the previous month (see above). Several argued its worth while two of us (I’m one!) didn’t finish or bother to start.
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – 3.84 (high – 4.5; low – 3) – Not for the faint of heart, the subject of this memoir/true-crime novel provides great discussion on ethics and justice but intimate accounts of child abuse will make some want to skip it.
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