Book Club Recommendations


This book club recommendations list contains old and new books of various genres that I think have wide appeal and provide compelling discussion topics for your book club.

For additional book club recommendations, check out my:
Coed Book Club Recommendations
Short Book Club Recommendations (300 pages or less)

Latest Addition(s) (April 17, 2020)

Knockout QueenThe Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: April 28, 2020)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The story of a teenage friendship between Bunny, a 6 foot 3 girl whose mother died and father is a wealthy alcoholic, and Michael, a gay boy who’s living with his Aunt after his mother was sent to prison and his father skipped town…set on the North Shore of California.

My Thoughts: It’s a dark coming of age story (though there is a life-changing incident that drives the plot) of two teenagers who feel like outsiders in their own ways trying to come to terms with who they are amid their own family drama. Thorpe’s voice and writing are the stars of this show…as are the characters of Bunny and Michael, who are flawed, yet endearing. I think readers will be drawn to them. Full Review.

Perfect TunesPerfect Tunes by Emily Gould
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: April 14, 2020)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Laura moves to New York’s Lower East Side to pursue her music dreams, but her life is turned upside down by a love affair with a flaky fellow musician.

My Thoughts: If the theme of women struggling to pursue their dreams while being mothers and wives appeals to you (and you like character-driven novels), read this book. The story begins with a toxic relationship that reminded me of the one in Sweetbitter (my review) and turns into an exploration of motherhood and balancing time and attention to children with pursuing a dream of your own. Perfect Tunes packs a lot of themes and a long timespan into a small package, but the story and characters still feel fleshed out. Full Review.

My Dark VanessaMy Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: March 10, 2020)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: At age fifteen, Vanessa begins an affair with her boarding school English teacher (Strane). Almost twenty years later, amid the #metoo movement, the teacher is accused of sexual harassment by another student, who wants Vanessa to come forward as well.

My Thoughts: This debut novel is told in alternating timelines: when Vanessa and Strane are beginning their affair in high school (2000) and, years later, when Strane is accused of sexual harassment by another student (2017). I knew this book would be uncomfortable, totally messed up, horrifying and heartbreaking. It was and I was riveted. I was completely surprised by the direction the story took. My Review.

The HoldoutThe Holdoutby Graham Moore
Fiction – Mystery (Release Date: February 18, 2020)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Ten years ago, Maya was the lone juror who wanted to acquit Bobby Nock of murdering Jessica Silver…and she was able to convince her fellow jurors to come around to her side. Now, a true crime docu-series is reassembling those involved with the case, including the jurors.

My Thoughts: This courtroom drama was inspired by Moore’s (Academy Award-winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game) real-life experience serving on a jury in 2008 and sending that defendant to prison for murder. The Holdout does not have a particularly thriller-y vibe, but it’s easy to quickly turn the pages. It looks at the impact of a high profile trial on the jury (particularly one that is sequestered)…how it affects the jurors’ lives, families, and mental state…and how slippery the legal system is in the U.S. Full Review.

Book Club Recommendations

A SeparationA Separation by Katie Kitamura by Katie Kitamura
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
240 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: A young woman’s mother-in-law asks her to travel to Greece to find her estranged husband, who has stopped communicating, resulting in a rumination on the state of her marriage and the secrets they’ve been keeping.
My Thoughts: A Separation has catastrophically been described as a “whodunit” (by Elle Magazine) and “the literary Gone Girl of 2017″ (by The Millions). It is NOT either of those things. It is, however, a gorgeously dark rumination on a troubled marriage. It’s most definitely a “style” book (i.e. don’t look for a fast-moving plot), but I immediately adored the narrator’s voice and tone. Continue Reading…

A Woman is No ManA Woman is No Manby Etaf Rum
Fiction (Release Date: March 5, 2019)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A dual timeline story of a Palestinian mother (Isra) and daughter (Deya) growing up in Brooklyn in a household that tried to strictly adhere to traditional Muslim custom (i.e. arranged marriage at a young age, men valued over women, women confined to the home, physical and emotional abuse, etc).

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying A Woman is No Man is a feminist’s worst nightmare…in the sense that women are still treated this way in some cultures even though it’s 2019. I’d heard it was brutal reading before I started it and it was. I’m shuddering wondering how much of this story is autobiographical for Rum (this NPR interview leads to me believe at least some of it is). In addition to being a window into this hidden culture, A Woman is No Man has some suspenseful story hooks that kept me turning the pages. If your book club can stomach the brutality, this would be an excellent choice! Full Review.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn GreenwoodAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Fiction (Released August 9, 2016)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: After Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer father and addict mother, witnesses Kellen’s (one of Wavy’s father’s “employees”) motorcycle accident, he takes her under his wing, leading to an unlikely relationship.
My Thoughts: I was all over the place with my feelings about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, but I ended up in an emotionally invested and somewhat surprising (to me) place. I immediately loved the voice of Amy, Wavy’s cousin, and the storyline of Wavy’s integration into her extended family’s normal way of life the first of many times she stayed with them. Then, I became thoroughly creeped out by the story’s direction once Wavy returns to her parents at the ranch (her home and the site of her father’s meth cooking business). Continue Reading…

All This Could Be YoursAll This Could Be Yoursby Jami Attenberg
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: October 22, 2019)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Alex’s father (a shady businessman) has a heart attack, she rushes to New Orleans to try to learn who he truly was and understand why her mother (Barbra) stayed married to him. 

My Thoughts: 2019 was a stellar year for family dramas and All This Could Be Yours may be the darkest of them all! The level of family dysfunction is high, but what makes it truly dark are the thoughts and feelings of each of these family members. If you need hope in your books, this probably isn’t the choice for you. 4.5 stars. Full Review.

An Anonymous GirlAn Anonymous Girl by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks
Fiction – Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: January 8, 2019)
375 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Jessica Farris signs up for a supposedly anonymous study only to find that Dr. Shields (the psychiatrist conducting the study) seems to be able to get into her head in a much deeper way than she imagined.
My Thoughts: Psychological thrillers that are heavier on the psychological and lighter on the thriller tend to work for me…and An Anonymous Girl fits this bill. It’s less reliant on action and outlandish plot twists…the suspenseful question is not what will happen, but who can you trust? The beginning of the story sucked me in in a creepy, unsettling way. This book is a giant mindf*ck! Full Review.

An American MarriageAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Southern Fiction (Released February 6, 2018)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When Roy goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit only a year and a half into their new marriage, Celestial must figure out how to cope with his absence and shape her life in the face of this massive upheaval.
My Thoughts: An American Marriage is an intimately written novel that tackles a number of weighty current issues (marriage, race, class, incarceration, love, friendship, family, grief, fidelity, recovery) in an organic way…and is my favorite novel of 2018 so far! I loved the writing. It’s not “gorgeous” in the traditional sense, rather it’s casual, intimate, and has personality. Continue Reading…

Based on a True Story by Delphine de ViganBased on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan
Fiction – Thriller (Released May 9, 2017)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 
Plot Summary: Based on a True Story (a smash hit in France already) is the memoir-style story of a writer’s toxic female friendship…and how it essentially destroyed her.
My Thoughts: Though the book is technically fiction, the main character shares the author’s name and general background. The story begins with a titillating Prologue and continues with a creepy, Single White Female vibe that left me dying to know how things would play out. It’s incredibly emotionally tense and de Vigan’s gorgeous writing helps accomplish this. The entire time I was reading, I understood that Based on a True Story was completely messing with my head with its “is this story true or isn’t it?” vibe. Continue Reading…

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman by Fredrick Backman
Fiction – Sports (
Released April 25, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: While small, down and out Beartown goes crazy over its youth ice hockey team’s run in the Swedish national tournament, something explosive happens to throw the town’s and team’s hopes into jeopardy.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Beartown because I abandoned Backman’s smash hit, A Man Called Ove, pretty early on. But, Beartown is an entirely different story and is one of my favorite books of the year so far! Beartown has been compared to Friday Night Lights, which is accurate in that this is a story of a town who’s hopes are declining every day and whose youth sports team is really the only thing it’s residents have to be proud of. Continue Reading…

The Beautiful Bureaucrat, Helen PhillipsThe Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Fiction (Released August 11, 2015)
192 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: When Josephine moves to a new city with her husband and takes a job at a data processing facility, strange things begin to happen, leading her to further investigate the company she works for.
My Thoughts: Helen Phillips’ debut novel is a tiny ball of weirdness…reminiscent of a demented “Office Space”…that had me on the edge of my seat. I was on the edge of my seat virtually the entire time I was reading. I just had to know…what the heck is going on here?! The entire book feels like a riddle that the reader needs to unravel. And, once the the riddle of Josephine’s company has been solved, you’re left with much broader questions to ponder. Continue Reading…

Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina HenriquezThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Fiction (Released June 3, 2014)
286 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary:
The story of a group of immigrant families living in a nondescript apartment building in Delaware, centering on the relationship between two teenagers, Maribel and Mayor.

My Thoughts: This powerful book about the life of immigrants living in the U.S. is initially quiet, but I couldn’t put it down towards the end. It forces the reader to see life in America through a different set of eyes and is relevant to the current political climate. There’s lots to chew on here.

Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahalan, psychosis, memoirBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released November 13, 2012)
250 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The true story of 26 year old New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan’s unexplained “descent into madness” and her subsequent struggle to recover her identity.
My Thoughts: Brain on Fire is a fascinating medical mystery. Susannah’s first symptoms were flu-like (true of 70% of patients with her illness), which then spiraled into numbness, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, memory loss, loss of motor skills, and catatonia. Continue Reading…

Burgess BoysThe Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Fiction (Released March 26, 2013)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Three grown siblings, Jim (a successful New York City defense attorney), Bob (a NYC Legal Aid attorney), and Susan (Bob’s twin sister and a single Mom), from small town Maine reconnect when Susan’s son throws a pig’s head into a local mosque during Ramadan.
My Thoughts: I usually make notes about why I like or dislike a book as I’m reading to help me with the review. However, I didn’t for this book and enjoyed just reading. Continue Reading…

Dear Fang With Love, Rufi ThorpeDear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Fiction (Released May 24, 2016)
303 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: After a psychotic break at a party, seventeen year-old Vera accompanies her father (who has been absent for most of her life) on an European history tour to Lithuania, where her paternal grandmother grew up.
My Thoughts: It’s difficult to pinpoint what this book is truly about because it’s about teen angst, mental illness, and family history and relationships without being overly about any one of those things. They all kind of balance each other out into a story that ends up being about the people (mainly Vera and her father). I adored Vera. She’s precocious, insightful, quirky, troubled, yet sometimes comes across as the surprising voice of reason. Continue Reading…

Dear Mr. M, Herman KochDear Mr. M by Herman Koch
Fiction (Released September 6, 2016)
416 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: M, an aging writer riding on the long-ago success of his bestselling novel based on the true story of a teacher’s murder involving two of his students (Payback) piques the stalker-ish interest of his neighbor, leading to a revisit of the crime at the center of M’s novel.
My Thoughts: While Dear Mr. M‘s politically incorrect social commentary, dislikable characters, and somewhat meandering nature mean it’s not for everyone, Koch’s distinctive writing style make it a winner for me despite some plot inconsistencies. And, its divisive nature would make it a fantastic book club selection. While I didn’t love Dear Mr. M quite as much as The Dinner (my review), it came dang close. And I thought it ran circles around Summer House with Swimming Pool (my review). Continue Reading…

Dearly BelovedThe Dearly Belovedby Cara Wall
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: August 13, 2019)
338 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Ministers Charles and James are hired to co-lead the congregation of New York City’s Third Presbyterian Church in the 1960’s and their families become inextricably linked despite their different beliefs.

My Thoughts: The Dearly Beloved is a yet another gorgeously written character-driven novel (we’ve been swimming in riches with these this year and I’m not mad about it!) involving two families. The writing style reminded me of Mary Beth Keane’s in Ask Again, Yes (my review). Each character has a very different outlook on faith…making it easy to find at least one person to identify with. And, they all struggle with what exactly they believe for various reasons and they all evolve throughout the book. Full Review.

Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill CleggDid You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
Fiction (Released September 8, 2015)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The story of June Reid, who loses her entire family (her daughter and her fiancee, her boyfriend, and her ex-husband) in a horrible tragedy on the night before her daughter’s wedding.
My Thoughts: The hype (both from bloggers and awards committees) surrounding Clegg’s debut novel made me nervous to read it…but, it surpassed all my expectations and is a contender for my favorite book of 2015! Did You Ever Have A Family is a mostly character-driven story about family (obviously), small-town life, prejudice, parent/child relationships, grief, heartache, and regret. Continue Reading…

The Dinner by Herman KochThe Dinner, Herman Koch
Fiction (Released February 12, 2013)
306 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner at an upscale, Amsterdam restaurant to discuss how to handle a situation involving their teenage sons.

My Thoughts: The Dinner had been on my TBR list for awhile, but I failed to pick it up because Koch’s 2014 novel, Summer House with Swimming Pool (my review), was hit and miss for me. I’m thrilled that I did because it ended up being one of the best books I read in 2015! Not much happens in the beginning of the story, but I was so busy reveling in Koch’s brilliant writing and biting social commentary that I didn’t even realize that the characters had merely arrived at the restaurant and ordered food. Continue Reading…

The Dreamers The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: January 15, 2019)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: A “sleeping sickness” (i.e. people fall asleep for long periods of time and have vivid dreams) befalls one floor of a college dorm in a small town in the California mountains (Santa Lora), but then begins to spread to the town, putting everyone on high alert.
My Thoughts: almost 5 star loved The Dreamers! It’s like a more literary version of Megan Abbott’s The Fever (which I loved). The Dreamers is not a thriller by any means, but it still had me on the edge of my seat with incredible tension and suspense. Walker did a fantastic job conveying the fear that an epidemic of a never-before-seen disease can cause. This one has a shot at making my Best Books of 2019 list! Full Review.

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng, fictionEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Fiction (Released June, 2014)
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: 
When Lydia, the favorite teenage daughter of a Chinese-American family living in 1970’s Ohio, turns up dead, the family is forced to examine strains that have been lying just below the surface.
My Thoughts: Given the book opens with a doozy of a first line (“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet…”), I was expecting a thriller focused on how and why Lydia is dead. But, Everything I Never Told You is more a story of family dynamics with Lydia’s death as the catalyst forcing each member to examine themselves. It’s also a portrait of what it’s like to be immigrants (and a multi-racial family…dad James is Chinese and mom Marilyn is white) in a town where there is not any immigrant population to speak of. Continue Reading…

EvictedEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Nonfiction – Investigative Journalism / Social Justice (Released March 1, 2016)
418 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Desmond (a Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient) investigates the private housing market in poor neighborhoods by following 8 families in Milwaukee, WI.

My Thoughts: I liked getting to follow specific families as they got evicted from various homes and looked for new ones, battled with landlords, and tried to hold down jobs. I alternately felt for them as they came up against systemic prejudice (i.e. single mothers being turned down for apartments simply because they had children, eviction for frivolous infractions, etc) and was frustrated with them as they made terrible choices (i.e. rampant drug use, pregnancy, missed welfare meetings resulting in benefits being cut off, fighting in their homes resulting in eviction, etc.). Regardless, I gained an incredible appreciation for how this system is set up almost to guarantee failure. Full Review.

Fates and Furies, Lauren GroffFates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fiction (Released September 15, 2015)
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The story of the marriage of Lotto, a gregarious aspiring actor from a wealthy background, and Mathilde, a mysterious model he met in college, told first from Lotto’s perspective, then from Mathilde’s.
My Thoughts: The first section (Fates) was a 2 or 3 star slog, but the second section (Furies) is unquestionably a 5 star read. Overall, pushing through the beginning was worth it for me. Continue Reading…

Female PersuasionThe Female Persuasionby Meg Wolitzer
Fiction – Literary (Released April 3, 2018)
464 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Summary: Greer is a shy college student still in love with her high school boyfriend when she meets Faith Frank, an icon of the women’s movement, who changes the trajectory of Greer’s life.
My Thoughts: The Female Persuasion is my second 5 star book of the year! In a letter to the reader at the beginning of the book, Riverhead’s Editor-in-Chief (Sarah McGrath) says The Female Persuasion is a novel about “female power, ambition, leadership, and mentorship […].” And it is, but those issues are secondary to what is ultimately a story in which the characters are the stars: Greer, her boyfriend (Cory), her best friend (Zee), and Faith Frank. I was completely enmeshed in these people’s lives and the issues this book addresses fit organically around the characters’ stories without overwhelming them. Full Review.

Five Days at Memorial, Sheri FinkFive Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
Nonfiction (Released September 10, 2013)
558 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: An investigative report into what happened during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center…including allegations that doctors intentionally sped up death for some of the hospital’s sickest patients that they thought wouldn’t survive an evacuation.
My Thoughts: Part portrait of a hospital trying to survive in the wake of disaster and part exploration of end-of-life care and euthanasia in the U.S., Five Days at Memorial reads like a thriller and is the first nonfiction book I’ve included on this list. Continue Reading…

Fleishman is in TroubleFleishman is in Troubleby Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Fiction – Literary (Released June 18, 2019)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Toby (a doctor) and his high-powered wife, Rachel, separate, Toby revels in newfound attention from women until Rachel disappears, leaving him to juggle his job with being the primary caregiver to their two children.

My Thoughts: I loved the snarky writing, the male perspective on divorce, and the surprising feminist undercurrent of this “very New York City” novel that’s garnering mixed reviews. The story not only explores the affects of separation / divorce, but also explores the breakdown of a marriage from the husband and wife’s perspective, a marriage where the wife has a bigger career than the husband, and stay-at-home motherhood. Full Review.

Foe iain reidFoe by Iain Reid
Fiction – Literary / Science Fiction (Release Date: September 4, 2018)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Set in the near future, Junior is selected to participate in a partially government-run endeavor that requires him to leave his wife (Hen) on their isolated farm for a long time…but, the powers that be will make sure Hen is not alone in Junior’s absence.
My Thoughts: Part literary fiction, part page turner, part Sci-Fi (and definitely creepy), Foe is a genre mash-ups that dip their toes into Sci-Fi (e.g. Dark MatterThe Beautiful Bureaucrat). From the moment the book opened (and, really, well into the second half), I had no idea what was going on. It was clear that some omnipresent higher power had control over regular citizens and something wasn’t quite right with Junior’s wife, Hen. Outside of that, Foe had that “WTF is going on” vibe that permeated The Beautiful BureaucratFull Review.

Girl Who Smiled BeadsThe Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released April 24, 2018)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Clemantine was six years old when she and her older sister (Claire) were separated from their family during the Rwandan genocide and spent the next six years as refugees before being granted asylum in the U.S., and in Clemantine’s case, going on to get a degree from Yale.
My Thoughts: The Girl Who Smiled Beads was one of my April Book of the Month selections and it came with rave reviews. The story is told in alternating timelines (Clemantine and Claire’s time as refugees and their later childhood / early adulthood in the U.S.) and the refugee portion is as heart-wrenching as you’d expect. What they went through is appalling. However, the U.S. portion was incredibly intriguing to me as Clemantine struggled with her conflicted feelings about her identity and the help she received in the U.S. (she was taken in by a white, suburban family and supported through high school before heading on to Yale). Continue Reading…

Going ClearGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
Nonfiction (Released January 17, 2013)
430 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
The story behind L. Ron Hubbard’s (LRH) founding of Scientology, its links to the entertainment industry, and the current state of the “religion”.
My Thoughts: I found it tough to separate my thoughts on this book from my thoughts on Scientology itself, so I will include both here. First, the book. If you’re using a Kindle, do not be alarmed at the very slow rate your “% completed” rises…the actual book ends before 70% (the rest is acknowledgements and sources). Continue Reading…

Great SantiniThe Great Santini by Pat Conroy
Fiction (Released April, 1976)
536 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Ben Meecham and his three siblings (Mary Anne, Karen, and Matt) grow up under the thumb of their larger than life, volatile fighter pilot father, Bull.
My Thoughts: 
I recently discovered that Conroy is writing a nonfiction memoir (The Death of Santini, due out in October) about his real-life relationship with his father, the inspiration for The Great Santinis Bull Meecham. I first read Santini in high school and remember loving it, but I didn’t remember enough detail to write about it for this site. Continue Reading…

Golden State by Stephanie KeganGolden State, Stephanie Kegan
Fiction (Released February 17, 2015)
308 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
When Natalie Askedahl’s daughter is coincidentally on the Stanford campus during the latest “Cal Bomber” explosion, she is forced to examine the similarities between a letter from her genius older brother (Bobby) and the bomber’s “manifesto”.
My Thoughts: Loosely based on the case of the “Unabomber”, Golden State has been compared to William Landay’s Defending Jacob (which I loved). So, I expected a suspenseful crime drama from the accused side’s perspective. I was surprised to find that Golden State is a much quieter book focusing on the emotions involved when a family member is associated with unspeakable crimes. Continue Reading…

Guest Room, Chris BohjalianThe Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
Fiction (Released January 5, 2016)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: The aftermath of a bachelor party that married Westchester investment banker Richard Chapman hosted for his younger brother upends the lives of all the attendees and their families.
My Thoughts: Chris Bohjalian is one of my go-to authors and The Double Bind (my review) is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was ecstatic to hear he had a new novel out this year! The topic of this one sounds frivolous and sleazy (and parts of it are sleazy by necessity), but he deals with the ripple effects of the consequences of this bachelor party in a very serious and thoughtful way. Continue Reading…

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas by Angie Thomas
Fiction – Young Adult (
Released February 28, 2017)
444 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary:  When Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her friend, Khalil, by a police officer, straddling between her life in the poor neighborhood where she lives and her life at the fancy school she attends becomes even harder.

My Thoughts: Highly readable, super compelling, and heart-breaking. This debut novel is an “issue” book that happens to also be, at its heart, a flat-out great story about a family. I can see why people are buzzing about this one. Don’t be scared away by the YA label…I don’t generally like YA, but this one is an exception!

Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. VanceHillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released June 28, 2016)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Vance’s hybrid memoir of his childhood growing up poor in an Ohio town (Middletown) / social analysis of the plight of poor Appalachians.
My Thoughts: Before reading Hillbilly Elegy, I’d heard it compared to Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle (which I loved) and I agree that the memoir portion does bear some resemblance. But, Vance takes  to the next level (5 star level for me!) by seamlessly blending in social analysis of why the poor, white working class is failing to achieve upward mobility. Continue Reading…

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura PhilpottI Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott
Nonfiction – Memoir / Essays (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Mary Laura Philpott had an enviable life by conventional standards (i.e. happy marriage, children, career, house, etc), yet she still felt unsettled and unsatisfied. These essays are about her experience trying to navigate that.

My Thoughts: I’ve been on a kick with “women who get women” memoirs over the past few years and Mary Laura Philpott is an excellent addition to my club of go-to authors (also including Anna Quindlen and Kelly Corrigan). Philpott writes about this unsettling stage of life with openness, humor, and relatability. If you enjoy “maintaining your identity through marriage and motherhood” books, I Miss You When I Blink should be next on your list! Full Review.

Imagine Me Gone, Adam HaslettImagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Fiction (Released May 3, 2016)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: A multi-generational family saga of the impact of depression and mental illness on a family.

My Thoughts: Incredibly sad, but poignant, this 2016 National Book Award Long-Lister is beautifully written and captures the frustration, resentment, and crushing sense of responsibility and worry that come with having a family member who suffers from mental illness. While extended sections from Michael’s perspective are hard to read and nonsensical at times with long tangents on esoteric music, they serve a distinct purpose (allowing the reader inside mind of someone suffering from depression). And, the second half flows beautifully toward the inevitable, yet still drama-filled conclusion.

Inheritance by Dani ShapiroInheritanceby Dani Shapiro
Nonfiction – Memoir (Release Date: January 15, 2019)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Shapiro’s memoir about her experience discovering her father was not her biological father through an online DNA test.

My Thoughts: Inheritance was an emotional and interesting look into a new phenomenon brought on by the simple and cheap online DNA test. It went places I wasn’t expecting (good!), but did go over the top with theological and philosophical theory at times. Still, it’s 4 stars! 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Fiction (Released September 12, 2017)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When nomadic artist Mia Warren and her daughter (Pearl) rent an apartment from Elena Richardson in Shaker Heights, Elena’s entire family becomes enmeshed in the Warrens’ lives, resulting in uncovered secrets, unanticipated consequences, and a raging debate about what it means to be a mother.
My Thoughts: Little Fires Everywhere is an engrossing story about a family and a community that you can sink right into…and may have even broader appeal than Everything I Never Told You. I’m a bit hard-pressed to pick out specific things I loved about it…yet, I loved the book as a whole. Continue Reading…

Loving FrankLoving Frank by Nancy Horan
Historical Fiction (Released August 7, 2007)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: A novel based on the true story of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s epic affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, one of this married clients.
My Thoughts: While this story is about an epic love affair, it goes much deeper than that. It’s also about a woman’s journey to find herself in a time (the early 1900’s) when women weren’t supposed to have their own identities or interests. It’s about women’s roles in society and marriage and losing your identity through marriage and motherhood. Neither Mamah nor Wright is an entirely sympathetic character. The many layers and shades of gray to this story make it an excellent book club selection. PS – do NOT Google the real story of Frank and Mamah before you read the book…you do not want to spoil the ending for yourself.

Miracle Creek by Angie KimMiracle Creekby Angie Kim
Fiction – Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When there is an explosion at Korean immigrant Young and Pak Yoo’s “Miracle Submarine” alternative autism treatment facility, resulting in two deaths, everyone at the facility that day becomes targets of the investigation.

My Thoughts: Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama, but it’s so much more than that. It’s highly literary and tackles multiple serious issues, yet doesn’t forego the fast-moving plot of a traditional courtroom drama. In addition to the “who caused the explosion and why” angle to the story, Miracle Creek addresses children with severe disabilities (including autism) and what life is like for those who care for them. Miracle Creek is the most thoughtful courtroom drama I’ve ever read. Full Review.

Missoula, Jon KrakauerMissoula by Jon Krakauer
Nonfiction (Released April 21, 2015)
386 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Krakauer explores rape and the justice system on college campuses through a look at several acquaintance rape cases at the University of Montana in Missoula.

My Thoughts: Krakauer’s incredibly readable investigative journalism had me turning the issues of rape and the justice system over and over in my head and was almost a 5 star read for me (only a tedious final section prevented me from giving it that last half star). Continue reading for book club discussion questions…

The Mother, Yvvette EdwardsThe Mother by Yvette Edwards
Fiction (Released May 17, 2016)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When Marcia Williams, drowning in grief following the murder of her sixteen year-old son, faces his teenage killer at the trial, she is forced to make sense of how something so horrible could happen to her son.
My Thoughts: This novel kicks off with an incredibly powerful first chapter that pulled me in immediately, even though it was obvious this would be an emotionally difficult read. The Mother is part story of a mother’s grief, part courtroom drama, part portrait of grief’s impact on a marriage, and part statement about race, poverty, and what happens to people born into a rough life on the streets. Continue Reading…

The Mothers, Brit BennettThe Mothers by Brit Bennett
Fiction (Released October 11, 2016)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: While seventeen year-old Nadia Turner is mourning the shocking loss of her mother, she starts a relationship with Luke Sheppard, her pastor’s son, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.
My Thoughts: The Mothers was one of the most hyped books and the big debut novel of this Fall (author Brit Bennet is only 25 years old and was named to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35). And, it completely lived up to the hype! The first page is one of the best first pages I’ve ever read and I highlighted three passages before moving on to Page 2. Continue Reading…

My Sunshine Away, M.O. WalshMy Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Fiction (Released February 10, 2015)
326 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: When fifteen year old track star, Lindy Simpson, is raped on the sidewalk in front of her house in an idyllic Baton Rouge neighborhood, the dark side of suburbia begins to surface.
My Thoughts: Finally – I’ve found the first “blew my mind” book of the year! And, go figure, it’s a debut (I also had great luck with debuts last year – see my Best Debuts of 2014 list)! My Sunshine Away is a heartfelt, honest, and beautifully written coming of age story with some suspense thrown in for good measure. It was also one of my top 3 books of 2015. Continue Reading…

Nickel BoysThe Nickel Boysby Colson Whitehead
Historical Fiction (Release Date: July 16, 2019)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Elwood Curtis is sent to the notoriously brutal Nickel Academy after being in the wrong place at the wrong time (based on the real life Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, FL).

My Thoughts: The subject matter is horrifying, especially since the crux of the story is based on real life, but Colson Whitehead writes about it in simple, yet hauntingly beautiful language. The ending is heart-wrenching and brilliant. The Nickel Boys isn’t the type of reading experience where I was saying “oh my gosh, I absolutely love this book” while I was reading it, but it made me face tough issues and still has me thinking…it’s one I can see being taught in schools for a long time. Full Review.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Fiction (Released March 5, 2007)
400 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: The story of a Columbine-esque school shooting told from the perspectives of various characters’ involved (the shooter and his mother, the high school jock, the judge presiding over the trial, and the shooter’s former childhood friend).
My Thoughts: Although Nineteen Minutes is a typical Jodi Picoult novel centered around a moral dilemma, I think it’s her best one. She makes you question what initially seems black and white and feel for characters you never thought you would. Continue Reading…

Normal People by Sally RooneyNormal Peopleby Sally Rooney
Fiction (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Irish teenagers Connell and Marianne are first drawn to each other in high school when Connell’s mother works as Marianne’s parents’ housekeeper…and, their relationship becomes confusing as they navigate the social dynamics of both high school and college.

My Thoughts: Normal People (which has been long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize) is the kind of relationship book that is utterly riveting, but also made me feel a little uncomfortable in the best way possible (like White Fur and Tender). Connell and Marianne’s relationship is far from straightforward and is downright maddening at times, but I was rooting hard for them and completely engrossed in their story. 5 stars! PS – I should tell you this story involves a fair amount of sex and also does not use quotation marks for dialogue (neither of those things bothered me, but they might bother some people). Full Review.

Other Wes MooreThe Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released April 27, 2010)
233 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Wes Moore, a Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Army Captain, traces his story about growing up in inner city Baltimore alongside the story of “the other Wes Moore,” a child from the same neighborhood (with the same name) who ended up serving a life sentence for killing a police officer.

My Thoughts: The structure of this book is a powerful and effective way for Wes Moore to make his point. The two men’s stories are pretty similar up to a point, at which they drastically diverge. It’s incredibly readable and I blew through it in a couple days. Full Review.

Other's GoldThe Other’s Goldby Elizabeth Ames
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: August 27, 2019)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The story of four female friends who meet at Quincy-Hawthorn College and face four large mistakes (one for each friend) in their lives.

My Thoughts: A 5 star novel for me! Ames’s structure of the four mistakes could have been cliche, but her choices of what those mistakes were were brilliant. They are not ones you’d ever guess (trust me, these are not your run-of-the-mill life screw-ups). The Other’s Gold is ultimately a story about these characters’ chosen family seeing each other at their very worst moments and exploring how that impacts their relationships moving forward…and, it reminded me of The Interestings (my review) and The Ensemble (my review). Full Review.

Otherwise EngagedOtherwise Engagedby Lindsey J. Palmer
Fiction – Brain Candy (Release Date: February 26, 2019)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Gabe publishes a novel that’s very closely based on his steamy, volatile relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Talia…or the fictional “Dahlia”), his relationship with his new fiancee (Molly) hits some speed bumps.

My Thoughts: Y’all know I’m not normally big on the rom-com style brain candy books…they can easily venture into cheesy for me, but I really liked Otherwise Engaged! The premise is totally intriguing and Palmer takes all this upheaval in Gabe and Molly’s relationship to levels I’d never considered, but that were certainly interesting to ponder (i.e. in general, how do the family and friends of any author feel when details from their actual lives appear in their family member’s / friend’s book?). Great pick if you’re looking for something light, easy, and happy! Full Review.

Our Endless Numbered Days, Claire FullerOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Fiction (Released March 17, 2015)
382 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: When eight year old Peggy Hillcoat is taken to live in a remote cabin in the woods (die Hutte) by her survivalist father (James), she discovers the reason he told her they had to leave London is a lie and sets about to discover the truth.
My Thoughts: This is a gorgeously written story that starts out quietly, but takes a suspenseful turn and will leave you dying to talk to it over with someone…making it a perfect book club selectionContinue Reading…

Tell Me More by Kelly CorriganTell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released January 9, 2018)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Corrigan’s memoir is organized around the “12 hardest things she’s learning to say,” including “No,” “I don’t know,” and “I Was Wrong.”
My Thoughts: I absolutely adored (it’s my favorite 2018 release I’ve read so far!) this memoir that spoke to me in a “yes, that’s exactly how it is” way. She kicks things off with an essay that will touch the conflicted hearts of overtaxed moms everywhere and moves on to cover many big life issues (marriage, motherhood, illness, religion, friendship, grief, and loss) in a relatable and irreverently funny way. Continue Reading…

Recursion by Blake CrouchRecursionby Blake Crouch
Sci-Fi / Thriller (Release Date: June 11, 2019)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: While anew disease called False Memory Syndrome (which gives people memories of things that never happened and whole lives they never lived) is spreading throughout the country, Barry Sutton investigates the death of a woman possibly afflicted with this illness, which leads him to a neuroscientist (Helena) developing a technology involving memory that could have sinister consequences.

My Thoughts: I don’t read much Sci-Fi, but Blake Crouch is the exception (I loved his last book, Dark Matter). He writes incredibly human takes on Sci-Fi that make you consider a big life question. In Recursion‘s case, the question is “what is memory?” There’s a LOT going on in this novel (I had no idea what was going on at first)…it’s somewhat of a mind-bending and made my brain hurt at times, but in a good way. Full Review.

Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel LevyThe Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released March 14, 2017)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: A searing memoir of self-examination by a current New Yorker staff writer (also a native of my current town).
My Thoughts: I immediately fell for Levy’s writing as she takes a brutally raw and honest look at her life including love, massive loss, and bad decisions. It’s a risky thing to market a book as “for readers of Cheryl Strayed” and, while I’m not putting Levy on equal footing with the giant, the comparison is not unfounded. Continue Reading…

The Secret HistoryThe Secret History by Donna Tartt
Fiction (Released September, 1992)
559 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
A group of intellectual, eccentric students at a small New England college are bound together with a morally questionable professor by a shared tragedy and end up in a second appalling situation.
My Thoughts: 
The Secret History is a dark and, some (including me) would say, “messed up” story. However, it was fascinating and, like a horrific car crash, I couldn’t pull myself away. Continue Reading…

Shelter, Jung YunShelter by Jung Yun
Fiction (Released March 15, 2016)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: After a tragic incident forces Kyung Cho’s parents to move in with him and his young family, they are forced to confront Kyung’s unhappy childhood and address long-simmering family resentments.
My Thoughts: Shelter is the perfect balance between action-packed story, well-developed characters struggling with real issues, and gorgeous writing with lots of social commentary…and it was my 3rd 5 star book of 2016! I love dysfunctional family books and Shelter is certainly one of those, but in a dark and serious way. This is decidedly not the “rich siblings fighting over their trust fund” type of family dysfunction (i.e. The Nest). Continue Reading…

The Sleepwalker, Chris BohjalianThe Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
Fiction – Thriller (Released January 10, 2017)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When Annalee Ahlberg, a notorious sleepwalker, disappears from her home in the middle of the night, her husband and two daughters try to piece together what happened.
My Thoughts: Chris Bohjalian’s most recent books are giving him quite a reputation for coming up with mysteries…with more. They have the who-done-it/why-done-it elements of your run-of-the-mill mystery, but he layers on something deeper. In 2016’s The Guest Room, it was sex-trafficking, and in The Sleepwalker, it’s parasomnia. I found the parasomnia angle fascinating…it’s much more than the book’s title suggests. Continue Reading…

Standard DeviationStandard Deviation by Katherine Heiny by Katherine Heiny
Fiction (
Released May 23, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When Graham and his bubbly second wife (Audra) become friends with Graham’s introverted first wife (Elspeth), Graham begins to ponder the state of his marriage and his family (including a ten year old son with Asberger’s).

My Thoughts: Standard Deviation is one of those novels where not a ton happens, but the “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing and spot-on commentary about marriage, introverts and extraverts, and parenting carry the story. It’s an honest rumination on a not perfect, but not completely dysfunctional marriage. Continue Reading…

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Fiction (Released June, 2011)
353 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Dr. Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon to gather information on the mysterious death of a colleague and the status of a fellow doctor’s (Dr. Annick Swenson) groundbreaking research with the Lakashi tribe, where the women give birth well into their seventies.
My Thoughts: People had been telling me to read this book for awhile and I kept procrastinating because I thought Patchett’s “much acclaimed” Bel Canto was one of those “literary” darlings that was actually pretty boring. What a mistake! I loved this book! Continue Reading…

Station Eleven, Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Fiction (Released September, 2014)
353 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: 
A post-apocalyptic story of what happens to civilization after an outbreak of a virulent flu (the Georgia flu) and how the survivors make due in their new world.
My Thoughts: I gave Station Eleven a shot because people had raved about it (and it’s a National Book Award Finalist) and it was making a fair number of “Best Books of the Year” lists (it will now be on mine as well!), but I frankly expected it to be a DNF (does not finish) for me. Boy, was I wrong! I was immediately hooked by the first chapter, which is a heart-stopping account of the initial flu outbreak. Continue Reading…

Such a Fun AgeSuch a Fun Ageby Kiley Reid
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: December 31, 2019)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When African-American Emira Tucker gets stopped by a grocery store security guard for “kidnapping” while babysitting, her relationship with her boss (successful blogger Alix Chamberlain) changes.

My Thoughts: I’d heard this debut novel was a 5 star book about race, privilege, and class, so I was expecting it to blow me out of the water. I really enjoyed it, but it was “only” 4 stars for me (that “only” wouldn’t be there had expectations not been so high) and it read more like brain candy than a profound book about race and class. BUT, I love readable books about serious topics, so this isn’t a bad thing for me. When the book ended, I was left with a feeling of “I need to sit with this to figure out what I’m supposed to take from it.” P.S. – pair it with this podcast episode. Full Review.

Swimming Lessons, Claire FullerSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
356 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: Swimming Lessons tells the story of the volatile marriage between famous author Gil Coleman and Ingrid…through letters Ingrid hid in Gil’s books prior to her disappearance and their daughters’ returns home to care for their ailing father.
My Thoughts: Though Swimming Lessons didn’t immediately grab me, its steady revelations about the Coleman marriage and increasing complexity eventually pulled me in. The publisher’s blurb makes Swimming Lessons sound like it will be a mystery, but it’s actually an exploration of a troubled marriage. The “mystery” part of the story is somewhat ancillary and, once I wrapped my head around that, I enjoyed the book much more. The potential discussion topics of marriage and motherhood and various interpretations of the ending give Swimming Lessons its book club appeal. Continue Reading…

Three WomenThree Womenby Lisa Taddeo
Nonfiction (Release Date: July 9, 2019)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Journalist Lisa Taddeo shares three women’s stories about their unconventional sex lives based on almost ten years of research.

My Thoughts: I was riveted by these stories, but mostly because they were salacious…it was like watching a slightly less crazy episode of Jerry Springer. The common thread of these stories is supposed to be desire, but I thought that was a stretch. To me, these felt more like three women who were in the thrall of various men and I just wished they’d stand up for themselves. But, I also realize this happens all the time in real life. For me, this was a 4 star read (not the 5 stars many others have rated it) and I do think it would make for fantastic discussion if your book club is not the prudish kind! Full Review.

The Truth and Other Lies, Sascha ArangoThe Truth And Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Fiction (Released June 23, 2015)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: “Dark, witty, and suspenseful, this literary crime thriller reminiscent of The Dinner and The Silent Wife follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences.” – Amazon
My Thoughts: The Truth And Other Lies is the first summer book to blow my mind (and, it’s a translated debut)! It’s a tightly packed, demented thriller that kept me guessing from page one through the end. Continue Reading…

Underground Girls of Kabul, Jenny NordbergThe Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
Nonfiction (Released September 16, 2014)
350 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg exposes the “unofficial” custom of girls pretending to be boys (called bacha posh) in present day Afghanistan.
My Thoughts: The Underground Girls of Kabul is an extremely readable, yet heart-breaking and eye-opening immersion in a culture that is brutal to women. This is one of those books where you learn a ton, but don’t realize it. I felt like I was just reading a story, but I might as well have been taking a course on life in Afghanistan (particularly for women), Islam, the Taliban, and the affects of war on regular Afghans. Continue Reading…

Unraveling of Mercy Louis, Keija ParssinenThe Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
Fiction – Southern (Released March 10, 2015)
341 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Summary: “In this intricate novel of psychological suspense, a fatal discovery near the high school ignites a witch-hunt in a Southeast Texas refinery town, unearthing communal and family secrets that threaten the lives of the town’s girls”, including Mercy Louis, the star of the local high school’s state championship contender girl’s basketball team. – quotes from Amazon

My Thoughts: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is one of those books that is incredibly hard to categorize…which is a good thing in my view! It’s a mash-up of coming of age, suspense, sports, economic tension, Southern culture (it’s set in Texas, but feels more like Louisiana), and religion gone wrong…all gorgeously written. It completely surprised me and I loved it, mainly because it included five things that I’m a total sucker for. Continue Reading…

Waiting for EdenWaiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: September 25, 2018)
192 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: After Eden returns burned over every inch of his body and barely alive from his second deployment in the Iraq war, his wife (Mary) keeps vigil at his bedside waiting for him to die.
My Thoughts: Normally I roll my eyes when publishers exaggerate in their marketing descriptions, but this one was no exaggeration: “a breathtakingly spare and shattering new novel.” Particularly the word shattering. That’s exactly what this novel is (plus, gut-punching). The first chapter absolutely gutted me. I recovered a bit during the second chapter, only to be gutted again at the very end of it…and again and again. If you’re the kind of reader who likes stories that make you acutely feelWaiting for Eden is a must read. Full Review.

The Wife, Meg WolitzerThe Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Fiction (Released March, 2003)
228 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: On a flight to Helsinki to watch him receive a prestigious literary prize, Joan decides to leave her famous novelist husband, Joe, after a decades long marriage.
My Thoughts: The Wife is easily one of my favorite books I read in 2014 and would have been a contender for my Best Book of the Year had it been published in 2014. Why? Because of the absolutely gorgeously perfect writing (and, yes, it needs 2 adverbs and an adjective)…that’s why! Continue Reading…

Wild GameWild Gameby Adrienne Brodeur
Nonfiction – Memoir (Release Date: October 15, 2019)
256 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Brodeur’s story of her role as facilitator of her mother’s affair with her stepfather’s best friend starting at the age of fourteen.

My Thoughts: I flew through this 5 star memoir in two days! Malabar (“Rennie’s” mother) is a vibrant, but highly manipulative character and she has her tentacles wrapped tightly around her daughter…and all this impacts Rennie’s adult life. But, this isn’t what makes this memoir shine. Brodeur can write…and the Cape Cod setting comes alive through vivid descriptions of the water, the wildlife, and the food. Full Review.

Witch ElmThe Witch Elm by Tana French
Fiction – Mystery (Release Date: October 9, 2018)
464 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: After lucky golden boy Toby gets beaten in his apartment during a burglary, he goes to Ivy House (his ancestral home) to recover and care for his dying uncle Hugo…but, a skull is found in the trunk of a massive elm tree in the garden.
My Thoughts: I consider Tana French a “mystery” author, but The Witch Elm doesn’t start out with a “mystery” feel. It’s more of a family drama / mystery hybrid, which I knew was absolutely up my alley once I aligned my expectations. It’s a mystery with a level of complexity and character development generally uncharacteristic of the genre…and that’s a good thing! It’s a story filled with shades of gray…the characters aren’t entirely likable or dislikable, the revelations about the mystery aren’t entirely blame-worthy or understandable, and there is no obvious honorable path to take. P.S. – make sure your book club is cool with 500 page books! Full Review.

This Is How It Always Is, Laurie FrankelThis Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Fiction (Released January 24, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Plot Summary: When Claude, the youngest son of a family of five boys, starts to realize he wants to be a girl, the family must learn how to best support Claude and adjust to the situation.
My Thoughts: This Is How It Always Is is an accessible story about a weighty topic that had me feeling a whole range of emotions…it’s the kind of book many people will enjoy, yet will also provide excellent discussion for book clubs. It’s heart-warming, but also heart-breaking. It’s unexpectedly funny, sad, inspirational, and made me angry at times. Continue Reading…


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