This month we wrapped up our book club’s 2019-2020 year of reading. As I’ve said before, these end of year posts are probably the best place for people who are looking for book recommendations – either for themselves or for their book group. And, with summer upon us, who isn’t looking for a few good book recommendations?
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (3.18; 2 – low and 4 – high; 1 DNF) – The review of this book on my blog has nearly 45k views and even a year later, is much of the reason I have around 4k unique visitors each month. Opinions are broad and run deep. Our discussion was just as diverse. Check out my review before you add it to your list. 🙂
Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery by Charles Martin (3.36; 2.75 – low and 3.75 – high) Martin is a contemporary writer who is a Christian. His books had come recommended to several of us, and this was the one we decided to go with. It was pretty well-written and a solidly discussable book. Being set in Georgia contributed to that. And the religious themes, while present, are subtle.
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (4; 4 – low and 4.75 – high; 2 DNFs)- I loved this book as much as I had hoped. It isn’t a quick read, but the effort pays off. Our members seemed to agree as everyone who finished it gave it a high rating. There a little bit more in my round up of great books for sheltering in place.
The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks (3.82; 3.25 – low and 4 – high; 1 DNF) This tells the story of a tragic school bus crash, the driver and all the community members impacted – including one new-comer: an attorney hell-bent on making someone pay. It’s an interesting portrait of a small town when tragedy strikes and what it takes to move on – if that’s even possible.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (4.32; 4 – low and 4.75 – high) Our book club lives right in the middle of Burns’ setting for Cold Sassy Tree, so add that to this richly character driven Southern classic and you’ve got a recipe for a book that invites us to weave in all of our own crazy family stories. This is a beloved story that stands the test of time.
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (3.99; 3 – low and 4.5 – high) This is a small but mighty book for a book club discussion. An order of nuns known for taking care of the less fortunate take in a woman and her child after the untimely death of her husband. This has all the great themes (class, gender, religion, family and mental illness to name a few) and if you think all nuns are stereotyped, this one will upend that assumption.
The Weight of a Piano: A Novel by Chris Cander (2.14; 1.5 – low; 3 – high) This year’s book selections hold our new all-time highest scoring book and this one as the all-time lowest scoring book. It is always a gamble to select a more recently published novel that no one in the club has read before. This one sounded wonderful, it was just very poorly executed.
A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey (3.15; 2 – low and 4.5 – high) Opinions ran the gamut on this one, but most would agree it was a great discussion. I was the one who recommended it, and I stand by my high score. There’s a lot more detail in my review.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (4.97; 4.75 – low and 5 – high) Our book club has a new all-time highest-scoring book, and this is it. I blogged about our recent discussion here and my original review of this favorite is here. Between those two posts, you’ll have all you need to add it to your TBR list.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2.8; 2.25 – low and 3 – high) I liked this one more than I thought I would, and the discussion was pretty good. I think it should be labeled as a novella – both for its length and simplicity. Even so, there are a lot of different themes to discuss, making it a rich conversation.
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