Top Ten Book Club Books

“Solitude is the playfield of Satan.”

Vladimir Nabokov

  1. The Library of Unrequited Love – Sophie Divry. A book that’s accessible and short, yet has plenty of room for alternative readings – I can imagine some very fruitful and interesting discussions coming out of a group read of this.
  2. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel. A gentle book, this one, despite its post-apocalyptic subject matter, and one that’s unusual without being scarily so. Again, I can imagine that different people will take very different things away from it.
  3. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell. This one’s a little trickier, I think: I could imagine a book club discussion of this turning into a weighing-up of the relative merits of each section without actually engaging with the meanings of the text, but in the right book club I think it would do well.
  4. Persuasion – Jane Austen. A frequently overlooked classic of Austen’s; running it as a book club read would introduce it to a larger audience, as well as hopefully generating conversations about romance and feminism.
  5. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier. A slightly spooky one, and a Gothic generator of meanings, and seriously who wouldn’t like this book.
  6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman. As with Divry’s novel, there’s plenty of narratorial uncertainty to kick off a discussion with, and enough instability to the story to contain myriads of possible meanings.
  7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a novel of many voices, so it seems appropriate that it should be discussed by many voices too. (That’s cheesy, I know. I also know that it is 9:46pm and I want to go to bed.)
  8. The Tempest – William Shakespeare. I think people tend to have very different responses to Shakespeare, and those responses are almost always worth exploring. He’s a very versatile playwright in that respect.
  9. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski. I wasn’t sure whether to include this one; you’d need a very specific book club indeed to tackle it. But it feels like such a personal book – in that how you read it is almost certainly grounded in personal circumstance – and such a tricky one to tackle all alone that I think a shared reading experience would just be fantastic.
  10. Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov. On a similar note to #9: it’s not the most accessible of novels by a long stretch, but you’d get a lot out of it.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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