On an art tour of the south of France recently I asked people about their reading recommendations, and in turn I was asked for mine. As such conversations developed they frequently referred to books discussed in reading groups. I was asked what I would recommend for book groups. In turn I asked my own group for their choices.
My Book Group’s reading choices
The criteria that emerged for making these recommendations were probably some combination of
- The book was an enjoyable read
- It was not too long or too difficult to be off-putting for very busy readers
- It produced a good discussion in the group
To make our annual choices in our group we devote our December meeting to the task, each person bringing several selections. We have a free vote and then ensure we have on our list of eleven books, one from each individual and a variety of genres including poetry, theatre, memoir or biography and other non-fiction.
Seven recommendations from my Book Group
Milkman by Anna Burns (2018)
Not everyone found this an easy read, but we all appreciated its innovation and compelling subject matter. Not everyone finished it.
I reviewed it on this blog, and you can find the review here.
Plainsong by Kent Haruf (1999)
Some of the members of the group had not previously encountered Kent Haruf but agreed that this was a very good read, and prompted a good discussion about his focus on the ordinary folk of Holt, Colorado.
I had reviewed this book as well. You can find it here.
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (2017)
I missed the session at which this novel was discussed, but the enthusiasm of the group has encouraged me to plan to read it soon. It was swiftly recommended for this post.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (2015)
This memoir prompted much talk about our different involvements in feminism in the past and today, and in Gloria Steinem’s approach to activism. Its length did not daunt us.
This is another book I reviewed on my blog and here is the link.
Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (2017)
The group recommended this book because they were interested in how it takes a long view of migration and a close look at refugees in Berlin. It was originally written in German and translated by Susan Bernofsky.
I had read it and recommended it as part of a series on my blog about refugees. Here is the link.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (2014)
The group recently discussed suicide, desperation, families and Mennonite communities after reading this book. Again, the topic prevents it being an easy read, but it was considered a very worthwhile choice.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (2017)
This novel had won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017 and the group enjoyed reading and discussing it. It has been a reference point since as it deals with people seeking to return from terrorist activities abroad, and the effects of radicalisation on families.
Yet another book I reviewed and here is the link.
You can find therecommendations of the art group here.
The Book Group and this blog
You can see that I have reviewed most of the group’s recommendations on Bookword. There’s a reason for that. The choices are good ones and I like to pass on reading recommendations.
A footnote: You might be wondering what happens to the suggestions not included in the final eleven choices each year. To ensure that none of them are lost we add them to the schedule of books and group members can follow them up if they want to.
Over to you – what recommendations would you make to book groups?