The Benefit of Book Clubs And The Best Book Club Books to Spark Discussion
Four years ago, I joined a book club formed by a few moms at my son’s preschool. At the time, I only knew one mom at the preschool since our sons were close friends. We’d never gotten together socially, but we smiled and waved to each other at pick up.
One day, she approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining a new book club. Two moms had decided to start one, but they only knew a few people so they told the people they invited to ask another person or two and each of those people was encouraged to invite another person.
I jumped at the chance to join a book club because I love reading but never have the opportunity to discuss the books I read. I always thought book clubs were for super smart people who discussed themes and topics that might be over my head – I was so wrong. The first book club meeting had seven moms who had only seen each other in passing at preschool drop off and pick up. The only things we had in common were that we lived in the same city, had kids the same age and were working moms.
Over the past four years, we have formed strong friendships and we all look forward to our monthly meeting. Our kids are at different schools now so we look forward to the opportunity to catch up. We have been through five pregnancies, parent losses and breast cancer. We are all so thankful to have each other in our lives.
We schedule our meetings a month in advance so that we can prioritize it with our families. The best part about our book club is that since we’re all working moms, there is no pressure or shame if you didn’t read the book. You will have to sit through book discussion, but we also chat about our lives plenty so it isn’t a loss if you didn’t read the book. Many of the books spark discussions about what we would do in the same situation, so there is still plenty of opportunity to participate in discussion. I have skipped a few books and have never regretted attending the book club meeting that month.
Many of the moms in my book club had lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and had never made good friends. They moved here when they were married and never made the right connections at work. Book club was their first opportunity to make true, lifelong friends.
How to Form a Book Club
If you’re having a tough time making friends, forming a book club is a great way to connect with others. You can either start one in your neighborhood if you live in a community with others like yourself or you can start one with moms at your child’s play group or school. If you only know one or two people, you can do what we did and encourage everyone to invite another person or two until you have a good group.
We’ve found that 10 – 12 members is a good size since you still have a decent size group if not everyone can attend (or didn’t read the book). You also don’t want to have so many people that it is difficult to host (or schedule) book club.
We rotate hosting duties, although not all of us are able to host book club. I live in a small condo with the kid’s bedroom right next to the living room, so I am unable to host our book club meetings. There are a few of us who don’t host, but we all bring wine and either snacks or desserts. We usually have way too much food!
Our book club meets once a month, although there have been times we’ve skipped a month if too many members are traveling (summer vacation) or our next meeting is too close to the holidays. We set the date for the next meeting at the end of the meeting so that everyone has a month to plan (notify husbands, get childcare, if necessary) and read the book. Since we have one month, we try to pick books under 500 pages, but we have read some really long books over the years (our recent book was over 700 pages).
Each book club member takes a turn suggesting books. We offer three suggestions and the group votes. The book with the highest votes wins. I have read books in genres I would have never previously picked up, so it’s a great way to stretch my mind. The person who chose the book runs the next meeting, meaning, she brings questions for the group to discuss. Since we’re fairly informal, if they forgot to research questions, we just look them up on our phone during the meeting – yay for modern technology!
Best Books for Book Club
If you’re just getting started, these are some best books that have sparked discussions, even if we didn’t all enjoy the book. We try to vary topics, but our favorite books are usually fiction.
Once you’ve exhausted my list, if you still need book recommendations, our favorite places to find books are Pinterest (I regularly pin book roundups for future use), GoodReads, Amazon (they recommend books based on what you’ve read) and What Should I Read Next. We all keep running lists of books we want to read so that we have suggestions when it’s our turn.
*This post contains affiliate links (below), which means, if you purchase a book, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your purchase helps make it possible for me to continue sharing ideas at no cost to you.
The Girls, Lori Lansen
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Girls, Lori Lansen
Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel, Scribner
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
The Martian, Andy Weir
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
The Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins
The Good Girl, Mary Kubica
What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Orphan Train, Christine Baker Kline
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
If you’re not ready to commit to a book club, feel free to read the books and share your thoughts with me. If I have enough interest, I can do a monthly Facebook post where a group of us shares our thoughts on a featured book!