Book Club Picks

Unknown     It’s that time of year again; book clubs are organizing their lists for monthly discussions.  How do you pick books for your book club?

When my book clubs identify books a few years old, I’m often reluctant to reread, especially if it would require me to take notes on the characters; however, a time-honored book by one of my favorite authors is never a chore, and I relish immersing myself in the story again.  Wallace Stegner’s Crossing Into Safety appears on one list, and the title jarred me into remembering why I liked it so much – it’s worth rereading to get that feeling again.

Not many book clubs identify best sellers or just published books – maybe because those books are not readily available in the library, or maybe because they just haven’t come to the attention of the group.  Sometimes when I am reading a new book, I wonder what others would think about it, but it’s often years before it appears on a book club list.  My good friends across the waters often save me with immediate discussions by email.

Now and then, a book I’ve missed appears on a book club list – usually nonfiction and finally in paperback – and I am grateful to know it.  Book clubs can trigger a new interest or provide an informative window.  I still remember reading and discussing Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Hottentot Venus and Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, and gaining new insights into areas I never would have picked to read about.

Here are a few selections for discussion from book clubs I’d like to join.  Have you read any?  Are any on your list of books to read soon? The first set is from my friends in California, the second is closer to home.

  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • The Good Daughter by Jasmine Darznik
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegman
  • Prairie Fires: The American Dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
  • The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar


  • The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
  • Green Island by Shawna Yang  Ryan
  • All for Nothing by  Walter Kempowski




9 thoughts on “Book Club Picks

  1. I forgot to say the original reason for my writing is that I also loved Crossing to Safety and think it one of the best books I’ve read.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Aloha Rosemary, I am one of Maryanne’s Keuka Lake friends and met you last year (you should have been there this year to hear and see Amor Towles!). I enjoy reading your blogs although I tried to watch the Guernsey Literary etc. movie on Netflix and could not bear it (wasn’t a fan of the book either. But most of my problem with the movie was all the Downton Abbey characters, especially Rose/Juliet Ashton/Lily James). Anyway, my book club is about to meet and choose books for next year and I wondered if you have read Daphne DuMaurier’s The Scapegoat? A great story, I think, and I plan to suggest it to the group, some of whom have not heard of DuMaurier…😳

    Happy reading!

    Kris Packard

    Sent from my iPad


    • Great to hear from you. I was sorry to miss Amor Towles – one of my favorite authors, as is du Maurier. I’ve always wanted to go to the du Maurier festival in Cornwall – do you know about it? I have not read The Scapegoat but will now that you’ve suggested it; I like the plot premise. I think there was a film made of it years ago but have not seen it. Wish I could join your discussions! Please let me know when your club has your list for next year, so I can read along with you – thanks.

  3. Our group is pretty casual about book selections. If someone reads or hears of a book they’re interested in and recommends it, we generally add it to our list at that time. If our list is running low, we bring in suggestions and add the ones that sound good. No formal process. I can’t recall anyone’s recommendation being denied, but over the years (we’ve been together for about 23) we have learned what works best for us.

    The worst book club I was ever in (for a VERY short period of time) has one person who selected ALL the books for the year. No discussion, no suggestions.

    Will you be publishing the choices for your own book club?

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