2014 Best Book Club

2014’s Best Book Club Picks

2014 Best Book Club

When putting together last year’s best book club picks, I mentioned looking for titles that could spark discussion around interesting topics or debatable characters and the same holds true for 2014. Each book has an element that will get readers standing up for their opinions, questioning conventions or searching for answers. Take note! Here are eight great new book club picks.

On Immunity by Eula Biss

I feel like I’m constantly pushing for book clubs to give nonfiction a try because it can lead to some of the best group discussions. In On Immunity, new mother Eula Biss examines the fears, truths and myths around modern immunization and how those ideas impact society as a whole.

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Short story collections can work well for book clubs, as they allow for discussion around common themes as well as individual stories. Stone Mattress is perfect for this, as the collection’s stories are incredibly strong on their own but are also bound together by several different themes.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

An Untamed State can be a difficult book to get through on your own, which makes it perfect to read with a supportive group. But the novel also begs to be talked about upon finishing, as it touches on numerous challenging and important topics.

Dataclysm by Christian Rudder

Another great piece of nonfiction, Dataclysm focuses on breaking down and finding patterns in the data gathered by different social media networks. Though it sounds technical and dry, Christian Rudder presents the information in a way that will have you itching to discuss his findings with someone else.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Just before How to Build a Girl was published earlier this year, I took part in a readalong with several other bloggers. Based on our weekly talks alone, I can attest to the fact that Caitlin Moran’s sharp, funny novel on growing up is perfect for reading with a group.

Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

One thing guaranteed to bring a group of people together is looking back to the whirlwind of adolescence. Brutal Youth follows several teenagers as they navigate the bully-infested waters of their early-90’s high school. Both the characters and the challenges they face create ideal opportunities for discussion and flashback.

Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

Though I’m far from Brooklyn and don’t have children, I saw many recognizable faces in Cutting Teeth. As their stories collide in a weekend away at the beach, Julia Fierro’s characters create a great space for open dialogue on modern parenthood and it’s expectations.

California by Edan Lepucki

After a crisis wipes away the world Cal and Frida once knew, the pair seeks shelter in the California wilderness. When Frida discovers she is pregnant, they are forced to make decisions about their future that will have groups asking questions, making predictions and puzzling out answers.

What 2014 titles would you recommend to book clubs?

 

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  • Dataclysm sounds like something I need to read! And – Cutting Teeth would make a great book club pick…lots to discuss re: those characters. PS – I HATED (literally – my least favorite book of the yr) this book b/c I hated all the characters and, having lived in NYC, people like that were part of what made me NEVER want to raise my kids there. However, I did have lots to say about it :) I’ve also had Untamed State on my Kindle for months now and am going to give it a shot in the next few weeks.

    • I wasn’t in love with it either (there are actually a few on this list that I was so-so on), but I really wanted to talk about it! And I think that’s what makes books good for book clubs…it’s great to have something that everyone loves, but it can sometimes stifle the conversation if all you’re doing is cheering.

  • Stone Mattress, Untamed State, and How to Build a Girl are great picks! And I’m really kicking myself for not picking up On Immunity at BEA; it sounds so great, and definitely good conversation fodder.

    • I really wish I had grabbed it at BEA, too (among several others!), but I just ended up with a library copy because I wanted it so bad!

  • I’m reading Stone Mattress now and loving it! I’ve got Untamed State, How to Build a Girl and On Immunity on my TBR for sure!

  • Jennine G.

    Nice! I have three of these waiting for me! Brutal Youth may have to wait til summer though. I’m wondering how it may make me feel during the school year.

    • I think it kind of takes an extreme view of bullying and it’s very different than today’s culture, since it was before the internet, so you might not have that many overlaps with school today…but it’s a great book to talk about!

  • Rebecca Foster

    I could see Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, J by Howard Jacobson, Orfeo by Richard Powers, and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber all making good book club picks. (Hmmm, no nonfiction there.)

    • You’ve listed several I have lined up to read soon (and one my book club totally hated, but had fun with our bash session!)…I have a feeling several of those will end up in the Tournament of Books next year, so I’m planning to get to them before then.

  • Great picks! I just put On Immunity on hold at my library. I would add “Life Drawing” by Robin Black, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast and middle school book “Gracefully Grayson” by Ami Polonsky.

    • Oh gosh, I’m so desperate to read Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? I love the idea of reading a graphic novel, but one that has some serious meat to it.

  • I’m surprised by Cutting Teeth appearing on this list. I keep going back and forth about whether or not I should read it. This puts it back in the maybe I should column

    • I didn’t love it, but I think it’s a great book to read and discuss with a group…there’s a ton of conflict, characters that are really easy to hate and some really interesting commentary on parenthood.

  • Ooooh On Immunity sounds fascinating. I hope my library has a copy. Love that you included Cutting Teeth. It’s definitely discussion-provoking, but I liked how it felt like a lighter read at the same time.

  • Ciska van der Lans

    Still have to pick up Brutal Youth. Might suggest it at my book group next week.

  • Nishita

    These are good recommendations. I think I would add The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt to that list also. It is a long book but very readable and there are tons of discussion topics

  • Words for Worms

    Excellent suggestions! Those I’ve read from the list are highly discuss-able. Your book club is lucky to have you. As is the internet. XOXO

  • AnnabelSmith

    I think Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern reach trilogy would be good for a bookclub, only because you need other people to hep you unpick what the hell is going on! The only one of these I’ve read is California and I think that would lend itself well to book club discussion.

    • Ooo, that’s a good one! I haven’t read it, but my husband actually has, and I could tell he would have liked someone else to talk about a few things.

  • I think Stone Mattress seems like a good pick. For some reason I’m drawing a blank on what would be good for book club from books this year: but I’m reading Life Drawing now and also Girls From Corona del Mar so I wonder if either of those might be good picks. Hmm. cheers.

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