Discussion will be flowing with these fabulous reads.
10 Enthralling Books to Read with Your Book Club, No Matter Your Tastes
Discussion will be flowing with these fabulous reads.
Picking a book club book is a delicate enterprise. You’re looking for something that is both readable and discussion-starting, page-turning and engaging while also encouraging criticism and deep dives. You want something that is going to inspire and question. Crucially, you want something that everyone is going to read - There’s nothing worse than being the only person at book club who has read the book.
From Jane Austen's classic novel Emma to Bruce Pascoe's enlightening Dark Emu, we've rounded up a selection of page-turners for all types of book clubs that even the most discerning bibliophile is sure to enjoy.
1. For the book club that loves The Crown and true stories
Choose: Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
Some book clubs thrive on true stories, historical deep dives, and ripped-from-the-headline narratives. Lady in Waiting is all that and more. Written by Anne Glenconner, who was the lady in waiting to Princess Margaret and had a front row seat to all the royal drama that we’ve seen unfold in The Crown – she even appears as a character in seasons three and four – this memoir of a life in royal service is not only detailed and juicy, it’s also very funny, insightful, and moving.
Glenconner has a sharp mind for an anecdote and no-nonsense prose – wait till you read the tale of her wedding night in Paris! – while also having a life that, like the Queen herself, has followed the arc of the last 50 years of history. She’s seen world wars, multiple pandemics, financial crises, famines, and feasts. This book will be a true conversation starter, especially for anyone who is a huge fan of The Crown and wants to compare Princess Margaret tales.
2. For the book club that always listens to scammer podcasts
Choose: The Truth About Her by Jacqueline Maley
There is so much to talk about with The Truth About Her. Written by journalist Jacqueline Maley, it tells the story of a reporter at a Sydney newspaper whose breaking news pieces about a wellness blogger who has been misleading her followers about her business – sound familiar? – leads to unexpected consequences. Fans of our current wave of grifter tales, from Inventing Anna to The Dropout will definitely latch onto the ethical issues within wellness culture and influencer world that are portrayed in this book, but there’s also so much more to dig into here, from representations of Sydney in literature to sex scenes to single parenting. Plus, this book is a page-turner and we bet everyone in your book club will dive into it.
3. For the book club that loves a memoir
Choose: Educated by Tara Westover
Educated by Tara Westover is one of the most inspiring, heartbreaking, and wildly successful memoirs of recent times. It's the kind of book that keeps pulling you in deeper with every page and lingers in your mind for a long time after. It recounts Westover's life growing up in Idaho as the youngest of seven in a survivalist Mormon family. It's about isolation and enlightenment, and what ideological extremism looks like in practice.
4. For the book club that loves a miniseries adaptation
Choose: Maid by Stephanie Land
You all probably watched the Netflix miniseries Maid last year, starring Margaret Qualley and her mother Andie MacDowell in a devastating and unforgettable portrayal of life for a young single mother on the poverty line. Trust us on this: the original memoir, written by Stephanie Land, is even better. The series and the book differ greatly, so there will be a lot to discuss in terms of choices that were made in adaptation, but more importantly, the book will start crucial conversations about welfare systems, poverty and injustice. Land’s writing is so clever and funny, while also being profoundly moving and impactful. No wonder the book is a bestseller – and the Netflix series is a smash hit.
5. For the book club that loves a challenge
Choose: Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
This parallel lives tale of an early female aviator and the Hollywood star playing her in a movie is so engrossing it’s like you’re reading a television show. It's a Booker prize shortlisted novel that is lengthy, which may be offputting to some readers. But if your book club likes to get stuck into a big book and lose itself in such an enveloping, all-encompassing narrative, this is the title for you.
6. For the book club that loves a biography
Choose: Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Considered a classic and a must-read title ever since its publication in 2014, Dark Emu is a non-fiction book that celebrates the role that First Nations people have played in the history of agriculture in Australia.
A bestseller and a prize winner when it was published, Dark Emu has also been published as a book for children called Young Dark Emu in 2019, also penned by Yuin and Boonwurrung author Bruce Pascoe. What both these books seek to do is question the accounts in history books of the colonial era and present a new story about what life really looked like for Indigenous Australians throughout the past.
7. For the book club that doesn’t mind a deep conversation
Choose: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Yes, this is the pandemic book. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel was actually written before the COVID pandemic but it spiked in popularity in early 2020. Readers have fallen for its representation of a global flu pandemic that wiped out a huge proportion of the world’s population, before jumping forward two decades in time to follow the lives of those who made it through.
We promise that the book is so much more than a pandemic tale though. It is a hopeful, uplifting and joyous read about how life endures, even through terrifying ordeals. This is the kind of book that will inspire deep conversations in a book club for sure.
8. For the book club who wants to revisit a classic
Choose: Emma by Jane Austen
Many book clubs like to focus on new releases, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what about taking the opportunity to return to a classic again, maybe for the first time since you read it at school or university? You could choose any number of books by Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, or Thomas Hardy, but we’ll always lean on Jane Austen when we’re looking for something to revisit with fresh eyes.
Any Jane Austen will do, but we’re choosing Emma because we think there’s so much that a book club could dig into here, especially for a modern audience. Do women need to get married? How much meddling is too much meddling in the affairs of others? How have social hierarchies changed (if at all)? Who is the best Jane Austen hero and heroine? (And who is the worst?) Plus, with multiple movie and television adaptations, as well as Clueless, for comparison points, there will be plenty to talk about.
9. For the book club that loves a love story
Choose: Love Marriage by Monica Ali
Monica Ali is the celebrated author of Brick Lane who returned to the bestseller shelf this year for the first time in a decade with Love Marriage, an unputdownable read about a young South Asian woman and her accomplished doctor boyfriend trying to overcome the hurdles put in place by both their families as they journey towards the aisle. This is a love story but a modern one, about the ways we love and live, with our partners and our families, in the world today. It’s beautifully written, very clever and endlessly inspiring, with plenty of topics for a book club to sink their teeth into.
10. For the book club that loves a saga
Choose: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Identity, immigration and community are all at the heart of this beautiful story that chronicles one Korean through the generations. This deeply moving tale written by Min Jin Lee centres around an ordinary family led by matriarch Sunja, and the timeline skips back and forth between visions of her as a young woman, first in Busan and then in Osaka, and then in the present day when her grandson Solomon is working for an American bank in Tokyo. It touches on profoundly universal themes of family, faith, fate, and identity.