Book Club Possibilities…Thoughts?

Possible 2012 Book Club Picks

My book club has been meeting for over thirteen years. That’s a really long time and we’ve read plenty of good books, a few great ones, and a few stinkers. What book club hasn’t? On January 19th, we choose our books for the year. Yep, the year. We each come up with 1-2 choices, pitch it to the group, and then take a vote. This works extremely well for us because when it comes down to it, we whittle it down to a near perfect list and having the entire list before us, allows us to move books around to balance it out a bit.

This year, three titles continue to pop-up in my mind even though I’ve only read one of them. I’m not sure which two I will pitch and let’s be honest, I could completely change my mind come the 19th. For now though, these are the three I am considering:

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Booker Prize winner)
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (It’s been on my shelf for far too long)
Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam (Loved it, reviewed it here)

The other book that caught my eye, is Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney. There’s been a lot of buzz about it. Sounds interesting, but I’ve no idea if it’s discussion worthy. That’s the thing, I don’t really care if the group “likes” a book. It’s nice when that happens, but to me, it’s not a requirement. I’d rather have a book stir you up emotionally and create a lot of discussion rather than it being a “nice” read.

If you’ve read any of these, what do you think? Will these stir people up and create discussion?

Or… if you have another book that you think might fit the bill, please share it. As always, I will post the final list under my Book Club tab.

Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

45 Responses

  1. I read Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney and loved it. There is quite a bit to discuss in the book….but I think maybe We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver would be a better choice if you are looking for some discussion…Anna still talks about this book, though I have yet to read it.

    • My only worry is that I did not like Lionel Shriver’s Post Birthday World. It was a DNF for me. Didn’t care for the writing style. Although when I started Kevin back when it first came out, I didn’t seem to have a problem with the style, I just wasn’t reading it at the right time and put it down.

  2. For discussion, Kevin is a fantastic choice! It’s also a great read, not always easy, but great nonetheless. I haven’t read Sense of an Ending yet but it’s on my shelf. I haven’t personally heard of the other ones, but will now take the time to look into them.

    Our book club (starting its third year so a newbie by comparison) also picks books they same way your club does. It’s very democratic and also generates a great list of book recommendations. We’re reading The Buddha in the Attic this month. Very interesting.

    • Sometimes it’s hard picking books for the year, because some other book always comes out during the year that you want to get to, but I really like the convenience of knowing what I am reading during any given month. Makes it that much easier to get the books from the library, too. Haven’t read Buddha in the Attic but it’s gotten some great reviews. We just discussed Lost City of Z by David Grann. I was worried there wouldn’t be too much to discuss but actually, there was quite a bit. Now we are reading The Surrendered by Chang Rae-Lee.

  3. You are so deeply thoughtful and I am fluff…I posted about scoring my long wished for shoes today!!! My bad…

    I couldn’t read the Lamb book…but I loved All About Kevin and read it years ago…it’s a soon to be released movie…which might make it less attractive as a book club choice…

    Dance Lessons is sort of unknown but getting five star review everywhere…it’s a toss up!!!

    • You would have felt better about Lamb if you had continued. There is a lot to pick apart in that one, but it was satisfying at the end.

  4. I haven’t read any of them. I pitched Faith by Jennifer Haigh to my book club and got a tepid response.

    • Sometimes it just comes down to the pitch. We’ve picked lesser books due to the enthusiasm of the reader. I am not much of a pitch-maker. Not in a group setting anyway.

  5. I’ve read both Dance Lessons and We Need to Talk About Kevin, and the latter one definitely provides more topics for discussion. I liked Dance Lessons, though.

  6. Innocents by Cathy Coote is, aside from Lolita, one of the most disturbing, but thought provoking, books I’ve read in a long time. Also, The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic is faaaaaabulous.

  7. My vote would be for Kevin. I read this book so quickly to avoid nightmares (and my son was Kevin’s age when I read it)…. There’s a lot to discuss, nature v nuture etc… The writing style works so well.

    Read it! ;)

    • I had forgotten that I did start Kevin at one point and then couldn’t finish it. It just wasn’t the right time for me to read it. I am leaning towards pitching it just for the fact that I know it will generate discussion. My group doesn’t like overly dark or disturbing books though. This one will be hard to pitch for that reason.

  8. I haven’t read any of these Ti, but Kevin is one that has caught my eye quite some time ago.

  9. I loved Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot when I did a seminar on it for my senior year as an English lit major. It was so unique. I hope The Sense of an Ending is just as good. We Need to Talk About Kevin will make for deep discussions but I couldn’t finish it, it was so depressing.

    • The group I am in has often put books down because they are depressing, but I hate to avoid these types of books just because of that. You know?

  10. Good choices, I have all on my list but I haven’t read any of them so I’m not much help there. How well organized your book group is. Mine is rather loosey-goosey.

    • Years ago we picked about three months ahead but we ended up spending too much time each time we met trying to come up with the next book. I LOVE picking books for the year. It’s like the Oscars to me.

  11. I just finished Swamplandia! and I think it would make a great book for discussion. (plot can be summarized as “bad things happen to crazy people” and yet it has a positive, upbeat side that’s hard to explain.)

  12. If you want discussion and reaction, I would definitely go with Kevin. It’s not an easy read, and it will disturb some and offend others, but it’s rife with discussion possibilities, and it is written extremely well. A very scary book, given today’s social climate.

    • My group can be sensitive so I have to be careful how I present this one. Also, do you think that readers without kids can relate to it?

  13. We Want to Talk About Kevin is a book I really would like to read. I haven’t read any of the ones you mention, I’m afraid. I wish you luck deciding!

  14. I adored The Sense of an Ending and think it would make for excellent discussion. Even better: it’s short. There’s so much to discuss in less than 200 pages. I’m reading We Need to Talk About Kevin now and am a bit underwhelmed. I adored So Much for That, although I’m in the minority, but Kevin isn’t totally working for me yet, even though I love her writing. I find the pacing off. I hope it improves. I haven’t read Lamb or Dance Lessons (but will be reading that one soon!) Good luck!

  15. Kevin was a DNF for me, the Barnes book is being pitched for my Book Group also. We, like you pick for the year on the 18th, we can compare lists!

  16. I vote for We Need to Talk About Kevin! It’s such an intense, but amazing book. I can’t think of one that will bring out stronger opinions and discussions.

    • I agree. I am thinking Kevin will be one of the two for sure. I just worry about how sensitive the group is sometimes to depressing topics.

  17. I’m so jealous of your long book group — I wish I could find one locally! I suspect Kevin would be very emotionally and mentally provocative — it’s one of my wife’s favorite novels.

    • We’ve had members come and go over the years and it’s a public group so sometimes we only see people once but for the most part, the same 12 show up regularly. We have one man in the group. We’re nice to him. LOL..

  18. We Need To Talk About Kevin will definitely generate discussion! There is tons to talk about and it definitely stirs emotions. Plus there is the movie tie-in which can lead to a discussion too –read the book/see the movie type thing.

  19. We Need to Talk About Kevin is just stellar…loved it and so thought provoking..much to talk about with that one. I want to read Ending and Lamb (especially after your great review) so I think those are great choices too!!! Your book club must be filled with such awesome people. Wish I could find a club that was dedicated like that! :D

  20. Books that will be or have been adapted into movies would generate discussions I always think. Some titles that will be made into film include: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink (who wrote The Reader), to name a few.

    I’d also suggest books that have won literary prizes in Canada in 2011, including Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, or The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje.

  21. I rec The Stone Diaries – SO much to like or hate and has style, humor, pacing, voice issues that might stimulate discussion.
    Zeitoun was a good one for our club.
    Kevin would be great, as well.

  22. Something tells me for discussion purposes We Need to Talk About Kevin can’t be beat! However, I want to read that Barnes book so you should pick that one ;)

  23. My book club is reading We Need to Talk About Kevin this month and it looks like it will provide promising fodder for discussion!

    • I know the movie trailer has been making the rounds and it’s quite frightening. I hope the group will at least consider it for the list.

  24. Loved, The Sense of An Ending, like Nomareader said, it’s short but brings up so many great subjects for discussion. It’s not my normal sort of book, but there was something about it that stuck with me.

  25. We need to talk about Kevin is very different from Post Birthday Girl (which was my favourite) ;) and Kevin would make a good discussion book. Why not choose a book written by Murakami for discussion? I think Norwegian Wood can be a good one.

    On the choices between Norwegian wood and wind-up, I suggest you start with Norwegian Wood then move on to Wind-up. I was afraid that you may get worn down by wind-up that you lost the will to read Norwegian wood.

  26. [...] might recall this post, where I asked your opinion on which books to pitch at my book club’s yearly selection [...]

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