by Emily St. John Mandel
Dystopian novels have been really popular the last several years. This is the most thoughtful one I’ve read. It feels so real that you ask yourself the whole time your reading, “If the world ended, what would I really miss?”
It starts with the death of a famous actor and a devastating flu pandemic. Civilization as we know it ends. Then the narrative moves between present time and twenty years after the flu, weaving this amazing story of several characters. Beautifully written and extremely thought provoking.
Content note: Some mild language, violence, and sexual references.
American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang
This is a graphic novel, which are not traditionally picks of books clubs, but can be a unique reading experience for your group. This award-winning book follows three different characters who have one simple goal: to fit in. The main character is the only Chinese-American student in his school and the scenes in this book give life to lots of questions about identity, racism, kindness, and being comfortable in your own skin.
Content note: Some bullying, but no language, sex, or violence.
by R.J. Palacio
An incredibly memorable book, Wonder makes you think about how you treat others. It’s also a great way to ponder how to teach children to treat others. The main character, August, is born with severe facial deformities, and at age ten he’s about to enter regular school for the first time. His experiences, and those of the people in his life, will give your book club endless things to talk about.
Content note: Clean
My Name is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok
Asher Lev is an incredibly talented artist. From his youngest days, he has a gift for creating stunning drawings and paintings. But when his artistic talents and pursuits clash with his family’s deeply rooted Jewish faith, Asher struggles to balance his art and his heritage. This is a deeply moving story, so richly told that it’s truly unforgettable. A profound tool for looking at humanity, religion, family, and art.
Content note: Mention of female nudity (breasts) and mention of violence toward Jews.
Wired to Create
by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire
This nonfiction read is based on a viral Huffington Post article by one of the authors based on the research of the other author, and offers a glimpse into the “messy minds” of creative people. The book explores ten things that creative people do differently, such as play, daydreams, solitude, etc. It’s so fascinating and challenges a lot of old thinking about how creativity works. So whether you’re an artist, a writer, or a crafter, this book will get you thinking.
Content note: Clean
The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James-Brown
Some of my book club’s most engaging discussions have come from nonfiction historical accounts like this under-dog story from the Depression. Nine regular boys—loggers, famers, shipyard workers—showed the world what true grit really means by rising above hardship to row themselves to Olympic and personal glory. A riveting story about “beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times.”
Content note: clean