Book Clubs :: Top Ten (and maybe more)

Three of our book club's all time top 10

I recently caught up on the book keeping for my book club – which basically means making sure all the book ratings are loaded into our shared Google spreadsheet. As a bonus, I added each members individual book ratings since we’ve been tracking this (June 2013).

Three of our book club's all time top 10 reads

We have 72 books on our scored list. Updating our scoring data made for some interesting insights; for example, who gives the most 5s (Amy), the most low scores (me) and who has never posted a DNF/DNR (Tiffany).

In addition, we could see for the first time our over all highest rated books. For those who are looking for a great read, here are the top ten, beginning with the highest rated.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – A story that spans more than 50 years, it is told in first person by Marion Stone, eldest of Siamese twins, cut apart during their birth at a mission hospital in Ethiopia. More on this on here and here.

A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash – Cash’s debut about the bond between brothers and set in North Carolina blew us away. Interestingly enough, while this book by Cash is among the highest rated, he has another that is among the lowest.

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsoliver – A fanatic missionary takes his wife and four daughters to the depths of the Congo in order to save an uncivilized people. Characters, setting, plot, voice and universal themes – this family saga that spans several decades has it all.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Another story that centers on the relationship between brothers, this could be my all-time favorite book. I wrote a little bit about it here.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Author Golden – Spanning decades, this novel is the confession of a highly regarded Japanese geisha. Race, class, gender, loyalty & betrayal, family, war, love, friendship, duty – the themes to discuss are endless. I’ve read and reread this one and loved it every time.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Often called the first non-fiction, true-crime novel, Capote’s description of a Kansas family’s murder and the two men arrested is a captivating up-close look at the making of two murderers. Read it and then watch Capote about the research that went in to it with his famous collaborator, Harper Lee.

Stoner by John Williams – Perhaps my second (and sometimes first) all-time favorite novel. Beautiful in an understated way – much like the title character – this one stays with you. Much more on why it is a favorite here.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson – This non-fiction novel about the sinking of the Lusitania in World War I pivots among the German, British and American perspectives of the war. A great read (and discussion) for history buffs.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – This 2014 winner of the Man Booker Award is Flanagan’s tribute to his father’s WWII survival story. Much more about it in my review here.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood – This collection of short stories by Atwood isn’t nearly as well known as her longer works of fiction but it should be. Subtitled Nine Wicked Tales, these are dark and witty. Flavors of Flannery O’Connor come to mind.

Along the same lines, five years ago we collaboratively created a top 100 list of our all-time favorites. That list is here. And, as a follow-up to that, I created my own top 100 fiction novels list. (Both of these probably need to be revisited.)

As a bonus, here are the next top 10 book ratings.

  • Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Cane River by Lolita Lademer
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
  • The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O’Connor


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