13 books you’ll just HAVE to talk to someone about

13 Books You'll Have to Talk to Someone About

Let’s pretend for a minute there are two ways to respond to a book you’ve read.

A book can make you turn inward—to reflect, contemplate, mull over. For me, this looks like Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, or Marilynne Robinson.

Or a book can make you turn outward—to run to all your reading friends, saying, Have you read this? Because I need to talk about it NOW! These books beg to be talked about. For me, that looks like the books on this list.

(Of course, some books manage to do both. And other books provoke completely different reactions: some make you yawn, some books practically compel you to hurl them across the room. But we’ll save those topics for another day.)

What books have left you running to your reading friends, saying, Have you you read this?  Tell us all about them in comments.

Books You’ll Just Have To Talk To Someone About
What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

Alice is 29, expecting her first child, and crazy in love with her husband—or at least she thinks she is, but then she bumps her head and wakes up on the gym floor, to find that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who’s in the middle of divorcing the man she’s come to hate. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she’s become. She’s about to find out. I inhaled this like it was chick lit, but it was surprisingly thought-provoking: I found myself mulling it over for weeks after I finished, and wanted to talk to fellow readers about the book, and non-reading friends about the themes inthe book—always a good sign. More info →


This 1930s Gothic classic is an un-put-down-able, curl-up-by-the-fire mystery. Don't be put off by its age: this thrilling novel feels surprisingly current. Suspenseful but not scary, and it holds its tension on a re-reading: a sure sign of a well-crafted thriller. Discussion fodder: marriage, Manderley, and (she says with a shudder) Mrs. Danvers. More info →


This story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. (I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one.) Heads up, Reading Challenge players: this is a fantabulous pick for your immigrant story. More info →
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Public shaming used to be a common punishment, but it was stopped long ago: not because it was ineffective, but because it was deemed far too cruel. But with the dawn of social media, public shaming is back in a big way, and it's being carried out by ordinary people. Ronson walks the reader through some recent examples of lives ruined over one public mistake: a fabricated quote in a book, one ill-considered tweet, one Facebook photo that went viral. This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long time, and I'm not saying that lightly. More info →
In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

This is the first book French's popular Dublin Murder Squad, and it’s twisty and unpredictable. The story has two primary threads: one revolves around a psychopath, the other around a supernatural disturbance, and you'll want to talk about both. But the reason you'll NEED to find a fellow reader is to unpack that ending. More info →
The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

I picked this one up when Michael Pollan raved about it, saying it “embodied the spirit of slow food and life.” Paterniti had me from the words Zingerman’s Delicatessen. The story artfully weaves itself right into the heart of Catelonian Spain, but then it becomes muddled and confused. The reader can decide if this is weakness, or metaphor. Discussion highlight: the ending. Is it an utter failure, or completely perfect? More info →
The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

The first person perspective, extra-strength dose of creepy, and societal commentary make this novel extremely discussable. Set in a future where women have no control over their bodies, this is a staple of high school reading lists ... and banned books list. More info →
84, Charing Cross Road

84, Charing Cross Road

This is the story of the twenty-year relationship between a New York writer and a gentlemanly London bookseller, as told through their correspondence. A must-read for bibliophiles, and you'll feel compelled to discuss the heartwarming way books bring people together with all your book-loving buddies. More info →
The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy

I NEVER would have read this if a trusted bookseller hadn't pressed it into my hands and said READ IT: the plot summary would have made me put it right down. I went into this novel knowing nothing and I liked it that way, so I'll just say Wood explores themes of love, loss, and identity through a quirky 11-year-old boy who loves making lists, a wily 104-year-old woman, an absentee father, a Boy Scout project, and the Guinness Book of World Records. (That means if you want to talk about it, you need a reading companion!) More info →
I Let You Go

I Let You Go

It's trendy these days for every suspense novel to have a "shocking plot twist!" but this tightly-crafted novel makes your jaw drop time and again, without feeling gimmicky or manipulative. I was stunned as I slowly came to see that the story wasn't about what I thought it was about at all, and THAT is what you'll be burning to talk about. On a dark, rainy night, a mother lets go of her son's hand for just an instant. The devastating accident sets the plot in motion. Part police procedural, part domestic suspense, with the ring of authenticity, no doubt thanks to Mackintosh's own 12 years as a police officer. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book. (Sensitive themes ahead, so mind your triggers.) More info →
Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

It's been highly recommended by my local booksellers and a few friends with good taste. But whoa, it was NOT what I was expecting! I was expecting a Very Serious Literary Book, and instead it *almost* read like YA. The narrator is Blue van Meer, a teenager who has been moving from town to town with her father ever since her mother died, accompanying him to each of his short-term professorial stints at tiny liberal arts colleges across the country. Her senior year of high school, her father declares they will spend the whole year in one place, and Blue falls in with an enigmatic teacher and a hand-picked group of students she's gathered around her. The whole book is strongly reminiscent of The Secret History, yet despite this I still didn't see that big left turn coming. More info →


In the early pages, two families fall apart. We spend the rest of the story examining how each of the family members put themselves back together after the break—or, in some cases, didn't. I would have read this just for Franny's storyline, and I would love to hear Patchett talk more about the inspiration for this particular character. A sad story, but a good one. Discussion-worthy themes: which characters you loved, which characters you hated, and boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. More info →
The Road

The Road

It begins with a bang, when all the lights go out; soon thereafter, civilization falls apart. In McCarthy's postapocalyptic tale, a nameless father and son take to the road, wandering through the burned landscape as they make their way towards the coast, though they're unsure what, if anything, awaits them there. Critics are already calling this 2007 Pulitzer winner McCarthy's masterpiece for its moving portrayal of familial love and tenderness against a backdrop of total devastation. (Although he has a new novel coming out this year, so he may not like that description.) More info →

What would you add to the list? Share your favorite discussion-worthy titles in comments!

P.S. 40 great book club novels, and 6 books I had to be talked into reading (that I’m so glad I read!)

13 books you'll just HAVE to talk to someone about

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Leave A Comment
  1. Liesl says:

    Yes I definitely remember my mouth being agape multiple times reading I Let You Go. Another book I’d add to the list – Me Before You. I had to talk about it right away, mostly because the ending made me feel so angry and manipulated!

  2. Jess says:

    Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. I felt like I wanted everyone I know to read it and at least someone else right at the moment to talk to in depth about how much it changed my thoughts on end of life care and several other things.

    • Traci says:

      I agree completely! And in the time since I read it, our family has experienced the rapid decline and death of a beloved uncle, my father-in-law’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and the sudden death of my brother-in-law from a seizure, so I feel like it has been extra helpful and thought-provoking for me.

  3. Marie says:

    The Kitchen House — because the ending left so many possibilities that you wanted to talk about what might have happened.

  4. Jayne says:

    I’m Thinking of Ending Things. I had to discuss immediately bc I’m still not sure what happened. This is also a book I want to re-read.

  5. Erin says:

    So you talked about 84, Charing Cross Road on your podcast last year one time, and I thought to myself, “Self, that sounds like a book you would like to read.” So I put it on my amazon book wishlist. And my husband bought it used for me for Christmas, because used books = more books, and last week I picked it up and opened it up and discovered that he had accidentally purchased a French translation of it. So I still have not read 84, Charing Cross Road, but I do have an entertaining story to tell about it. LOL

    • Sarah R says:

      I just finished 84, Charing Cross Road and LOVED it. It’s sitting in my Little Free Library just waiting for the right person to pick it up. So if you’re anywhere near the suburbs of Milwaukee, let me know! 🙂

  6. Diane T. says:

    A few that made me talk about then… Whether out of joy or sorrow:
    The Kite Runner
    Possessing the Secret of Joy (not for the faint-hearted)
    Life of Pi
    Japan at War: an Oral History
    Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series

  7. Teresa Garcia says:

    I would add November 9 by Colleen Hoover, The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos and The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

  8. Brianne says:

    I always tell people about Ready, Player One. I know it’s not one a lot might pick up, but I tell them to give it a chance!

    • Cindy H. says:

      I’m reading The Nightingale right now and loving it. I want to talk about it now!

      My talk about books are by Erik Larson: The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts. There’s so much historical references that I wanted to share and talk history with others. BTW, Erik Larson writes non-fiction as though it’s fiction. He is uh-MAZE-ing.

      And, of course, A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.

  9. Sarah says:

    I would add Pines by Blake Crouch! It was suggested to me…and I have suggested it since.
    Some of the others that I have to talk about are:
    ***The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – the language and descriptions are beautiful and I loved everything about it. This is a book I have recommended to everyone and I WILL read again!
    ***The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch – it’s a coming of age/crush mixed with generational and scientific connection that works very well and made me love it!

  10. Lexi says:

    I recently read Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, December’s BOTM club pick, and wished I’d had someone to talk to about it. I agree with Teresa about the Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. I also loved and wanted to discuss The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

  11. Marianne says:

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell excited me so much when it was first published that I purchased 20 copies to give to my reading friends.

  12. Stacey says:

    I felt this way about Underground Railroad. I went around asking everyone if they’d read it yet and finally found a seat mate on a plane who had!

  13. Melisa says:

    I just read The Mother’s by Brit Bennent and can’t wait to talk about it with someone. I’ve read a few in the list above and about 1/2 through the The Woods and have Commonwealth in my TBR pile. I love your lists.

    • Brandyn says:

      One of my friends messaged me last week begging me to read “The Mothers” so we could talk about it. I finished a couple days ago and I definitely see what she meant.

    • Diane T. says:

      I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that one, since I just read it last year. My son read it for school and ended up crying at the end, so I had to read it to see what moved him so much. I wasn’t prepared for the subject matter. My mom died last April after a long horrible fight with dementia, so I went through the same thing that boy did. Man, that book was like a punch in the gut!

  14. Nicole says:

    This post immediately made me think of We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. Not an easy read, but a lot to discuss! I’ve recommended it to many people, but still haven’t found anyone who has read the book!

    • Brandyn says:

      “We Need to Talk About Kevin” immediately came to my mind too. I did find one friend who had read it so I got to scratch the itch, but I was going crazy needing to discuss it!

    • Betsy says:

      Yes! This is definitely one that makes you want to talk to someone else! I chose it for my book group several years ago, but I think the subject matter was too tough for most of the members. 🙁 Out of the many books I’ve read, this one has stayed with me more than any other.

  15. Sarah R says:

    For all the 84, Charing Cross Road fans out there, put the addresses from the book into google maps. Her first house (on 95th St.) is now a GORGEOUS $13 million townhouse. And 84, Charing Cross Road is now a McDonald’s. But a pretty McDonald’s at least!

  16. Angel says:

    Loving Frank! I had to reread a certain part and then do research to make sure that what I ready really happened and I read it right!

    • Vicki B says:

      I was thinking about this book, too! For those of you that haven’t read this book, Frank in this book is Frank Lloyd Wright. Its a story about his elicit affair with Mamah Borthwick. It will bend your heart until it breaks, you’ll definitely want to talk to someone about it. Angel, I did the same thing about the ending-didn’t see that coming whatsoever!!

  17. Tara says:

    I loved, loved, loved Americanah!!! Omgosh, couldn’t put it down!!! Also a YA book, Wonder. Those two are my faves that I’ve read over the past couple years!!

  18. Cheri Anderson says:

    Major Pettigrew’s last stand…fun to discover a colleague who has just read too! The school workroom was a buzz…my media center copy had a waiting list for a school year!

    In the time of the butterflies…thriller, history, love story, poignant…

    I loved recommending Rebecca to high schoolers…also Geeks…

  19. Heidi says:

    My husband and I just finished reading Passage by Connie Willis, and our kids resented the fact that our conversation at dinner revolved around something other than them. I want to find other books for the two of us to read simultaneously and then talk about, so this list will be a great place to start!

  20. Jillster says:

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I read it when it first came out and am still thinking about it. It was total immersion. I didn’t want it to end, it was that good.

    • Carol Ross says:

      The Goldfinch, absolutely! I find sections of it come drifting through my thoughts all the time. Her first book, The Secret History, was intense and I just wanted to talk about it. Also , Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg; Bel Canto, Ann Patchette; and When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi. All wonderful.

  21. Jackie says:

    I felt that way about All the Light We Cannot See. The emotional roller coaster I went on when I read it is hard for me to describe to people who have never read the book. I always recommend it. I read it a year ago and it still sticks with me.

  22. Pamela says:

    I totally agree about In the Woods and a Commonwealth. Commonwealth was one of the best books I read last year. In the Woods was so good but the ending devastated me!!!

    I’m reading Mary Oliver’s Upstream now and I want to talk to someone about whether or not we have permission to live so close to nature and time and how to do that with practical concerns in our modern world.

  23. Susan says:

    Nonfiction and the heavy topic of Columbine, but A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. So many things to discuss and consider and wonder about. I also wanted to discuss Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

    • Mary H says:

      Yes! A Mother’s Reckoning is a tough sell but wow, I’ll never forget the experience of reading it. So much more than a story about Columbine.

      Along those same lines, Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar. A great read about the human experience, but I’ve never found anyone who’s read it and wants to discuss.

  24. Diane says:

    I agree with “The Telling Room” and “What Alice Forgot”. I’d also add Joshilyn Jackson’s “Someone Else’s Love Story” and any of the Three Pine mysteries by Louise Penny, especially the later books…. (like The Great Reckoning!!!) WOW!

  25. Kitty Balay says:

    Farewell to Manzanar- I felt so sad and angry when I finished reading it. “Japanese Internment” was a term I knew just as a concept. This memoir, told through the eyes of a young girl, gives the concept a face and makes it personal. I’ll never forget the story of her mother smashing their treasured china dish by dish rather than sell it to scavengers for a few dollars. I kept asking friends have you read this book?? It should be required reading in American history and certainly all Californians should read it.

    • SoCalLynn says:

      My daughter just finished reading this for history and that scene with the china was one that she related to me that affected her deeply. My daughter takes Japanese as a dual enrolled high school/college student and they recently went to the Japanese American museum in Los Angeles where they have installed some of the living quarters and other bits from Manzanar. It’s fascinating.

  26. Grace says:

    I’ve just begun The Mischling by Affinity Konar. It is a difficult and disturbing plot (twins sent to Mengele’s concentration camp) but the writing is haunting and beautiful. An amazing debut novel.

  27. Stephanie says:

    My three for discussion are…
    All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. Its raw and real about addiction.
    How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Trooper. Not what I expected. Sad of course, but written so well!
    The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. Reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  28. Faith Raider says:

    I am so glad you had What Alice Forgot! That was the first book that came to mind when I think of “books I want to discuss” The Husband’s Secret (also by Laine Moriartry) was also really good!

    • My book club went on a Lianne Moriarty kick last year and I’m so glad bc we discussed Alice, Husband’s Secret, and Big Little Lies.

      I’d have to add All the Light We Cannot See (so glad that finally made it on my club’s list so I can talk about it) and Go Set a Watchman. I get into a rant about that on and people tend to say things like, “Wow. You feel really passionate about that.” Yes, yes I do.

      • Mary Hudson says:

        I also loved the above books! Big Little Lies is probably my favorite of the Moriarty books. All the Light We Cannot See will go down as one of my all-time favorites and it was wonderful to revisit Scout and Atticus in Go Set a Watchman.

  29. Cait says:

    Great list! I am really excited to check some of these out. Many of them have been on my radar, I just haven’t picked them up yet, but I definitely will sooner rather than later!

  30. I just read Wuthering Heights for the first time a few months ago and that was one I really wanted to talk to someone about because it was totally not what I expected! I guess I was expecting something Jane Austen-esque, but then all the relationships surrounding Catherine and Heathcliff were just so twisted and unhealthy, like a psychology textbook. Thought provoking for me, in that family dysfunction spans centuries and isn’t a new phenomenon.

    • Susan says:

      Agree! I read Wuthering Heights in high school and thought it too dark, so I re-read it this year to give it another chance. Still dark and twisty! I appreciate it as good literature, but I felt like I needed a good dose of Jane Austen after reading it.

  31. Oops…typo in my comment above. I meant to say “I think” not “I thing”. Ha! I also meant to mention that I have The One-in-a-Million Boy on my list to read this year for the challenge. I’m going to see if I can find someone else to read it with. 🙂 84 Charing Cross Road is another one that’s on my list to read this year. I haven’t read Rebecca but I have seen the old classic movie and it’s really good.

  32. Kari Ann says:

    Great titles!

    I’ll add a couple-

    Dark Matter- As soon as I was finished with it I thrust it into my husband’s hands. “Read this- I need to talk about it”

    Small Great Things
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things-

  33. Melanie Handley says:

    Gentleman in Moscow! A man sentenced to be killed immediately yet changed to being sentenced to never leave a hotel in Moscow – or be immediately shot on the sidewalk outside. The changing world, beginning around 1920 in Moscow, is seen and lived through everyone who comes and goes in the life of the hotel – including the staff and what can be observed through his window. The prose was compelling, the details observed were mesmerizing, the history was taught in a way you don’t realize as you simply read. I couldn’t speak after finishing it – simply needed to let my mind and soul absorb and be overwhelmed by the details.

  34. Cori says:

    All The Single Ladies. I was dreading reading it for book club and have been talking about it nonstop to anyone who will listen since then!

  35. Deanna says:

    Though I haven’t yet read What Alice Forgot, your description made me think of Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett. I loved that book and it made me want to discuss.

    Bumping her head has a very different effect than Alice’s bump, but it puts in motion a different life than she was living.

    Amy is an older novelist and writing teacher who has plenty of hang ups and fears, including writer’s block and resistance to travel and adventure, but she has mostly numbed out about all that and thinks she’s doing ok. Then on New Year’s Day she goes out to plant her pine tree and she gets a knock on the head that shakes up her life, career, and what she thought was her equanimity.

    I found it funny, delightful, and provocative. It has been quite a while since I read it so I can’t speak to any offensive topics, language, or triggers, or the lack there of. But I would love to re -read it and talk about it.

    • Annette Silveira says:

      I didn’t really like What Alice Forgot. I thought the ending of too happily-ever-after. Amy Falls Down sounds interesting. I’ll request it at the library.

  36. Libby H says:

    Z for Zechariah. As soon as I finished it, I made my husband read it so I could have someone to talk to about it.

    Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson is our current book club selection. SO many things to discuss. Loved this one! I immediately reserved her next book, A God in Ruins, after I finished it.

  37. Tracy says:

    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman is one of the most discussion-worthy books I’ve ever read. I’ve discussed it with many people and I still don’t know what to think.

    • Jamie says:

      YES YES YES!!! A friend of mine is in graduate school and read this book for one of her classes. I found myself gushing all about it (and accidentally spoiling the ending – whoops!) when I heard her reference it. Such a unique and heartbreaking insight into culture, misunderstanding, family, and why doing what is ‘best’ isn’t always best.

  38. Susan in TX says:

    The first one that comes to mind for me was The Sparrow! I made my husband read it as soon as I finished so I could talk about it. We Were Liars, The Kite Runner, Being Mortal, and Dark Matter were all sort of this way. And, Louise Penny’s The Brutal Telling — I made my daughter who has been reading these with me “hurry up and finish” because I had to talk about that one. 🙂 Love these kinds of books!

  39. Mindy Berman says:

    A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. This just blew me away and the only other person who I knew who read it was on vacation when I finished. Homegoing is a marvel. The Mothers and Another Brooklyn are the two most recent titles. My husband was forced to listen as I read aloud. I sent my children texts. Americanah is one that definitely needs to be discussed.

    • Florine says:

      Homegoing!! Yes! This one should be read in school, such a powerful story (stories), and it brings a perspective that is often very much needed, especially nowadays… Loved it.
      One of my personal favorite is an old timer ‘My name is Asher Lev’ from Chaim Potok. Powerful, and moving. And again, gives some perspective about art, religion, life decisions and beliefs.

  40. Elizabeth Alanis says:

    These are some great titles. I haven’t read them all, but I do agree that many of them leaving you with the need to discuss and deconstruct the events that take place. Thanks for introducing some more books to add to my TBR.

  41. Kate says:

    I just finished The Wonder by Emma Donoghue last night and told my friend she has to read it to see if she finds it as frustrating as I did! The other two books that jump immediately to mind are The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell and Our Endless Numbered Days by Clare Fuller, both of which I heard about on your podcast.

  42. AngD says:

    I think so many books by Jodi Picoult. I have had one of her books leave me crying for an hour after finishing. And some leave me just thinking about for days or years after. She develops her characters so well.

    • Lisa says:

      Which of her books did you particularly like? I was really into her for a time, but then was put off by a few of the later books. Then I read Leaving Time, which I totally wanted to talk to someone about when I finished. I also really liked Harvesting the Heart and Picture Perfect.

      • AngD says:

        My sister’s keeper was amazing. Handle With care had me crying for hours. Nineteen minutes was just. No words. Change of Heart was very good. Also The Storyteller was another no words. House Rules was s good as well. I read Picture Perfect years ago. And The Pact was so strong.

    • Mary Jane says:

      I agree about Jodi Picoult! I have never been disappointed upon finishing one of her terrific books. Still my favorite is the first one I read: “Plain Truth”. I’ve recommended it to others who also have enjoyed it. Wasn’t it made into a TV movie?

  43. Ginny Bess says:

    ” The book that matters most” by Ann Hood.

    So happy to read that “Rebecca” is on your list! I think this is my all time favorite. I work in a library and whenever a young girl comes up and asks me for a recommendation I take them to “Rebecca”

  44. Connie says:

    Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is the book I still want to discuss with someone – now all my bookie friends have heard that it makes Atticus seem racist and they won’t read it… I just want to discuss that issue with someone who has read it!

    • I just put that one in my comment! Yes, please, let’s talk about it! I keep explaining that you have to read it in context as the original manuscript that was changed, that you have to look for how she found Scout’s voice, that you have to realize what it was like to be a good white man in the South of Civil Rights….

      • Mary Hudson says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more! I just remembered a few more, Nightingale, Winter Garden and Night Road by Kristin Hannah. The Book Thief and Sarah’s Key

    • Mary Jane says:

      I read that book. Two reactions:
      1. The first half of the book read like Harper Lee’s voice. The second half seemed as if it had been thrown together from notes. Lots of choppy writing, inadequate character and plot descriptions, and even poorly edited phrases, spelling, grammar…threw me off, almost as if someone tried to finish the book from notes Harper Lee never used.
      2. I put Atticus in his time period. I did not consider him racist, so much as trying to steer the townspeople. Of course, everyone loved his defense of the accused in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It seemed so heroic, so right. For the time period, the response in this second book was probably more true to the “flavor” of small town Southern living.
      I did not hate the book. I think many readers were turned off by reviewers before they ever even read the book, thus perpetuating the complaints of Atticus being perceived as racist. However, I did not care for this book the way I had hoped I would. Harper Lee should probably have just left this book on her desk. Someone gave her bad advice.

  45. Dani R. says:

    One of my all time favorites is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
    Thanks for this great list. I better get off the computer and start reading!

  46. Kathy says:

    I had to immediately call my Mom and talk to her about “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter”. I was in so much shock that it all really had happened. My Mom knew about it already. I still tell people they have to read it if they have an interest with the Kennedy family.

  47. Debbie says:

    I just finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I’m forever changed. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I want someone else to talk to about it! It was a hard read, but so important, especially given the current climate of America.

    • Mary Jane says:

      I saw the author being interviewed. Did you know that this was all made up? He did not say all of this to his son. If I recall correctly, he said he doesn’t even have a son… This kind of deflated my feeling for the book, sort of like when I learned that the whole of “The Known World”, having been written as if this place actually existed, was completely made up, or in “The Education of Little Tree”, presented as biographical, was total fiction. Ah, we’ll, that’s the right of a fiction writer, but it affected me negatively.

  48. Sarah says:

    I just looked up The Art of Fielding to add to my list, and was reminded that A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is one of my favorites!

  49. Tracey says:

    Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    I Am The Messenger by Marcus Zusak
    Stitches by David Small

    I cannot recommend these enough. They beg to be discussed!

  50. Liz Erdmer says:

    I chose an old favourite for book club recently: Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. Original and funny, great use of Magic realism. So much to discuss, evil mothers, sibling rivalry, lust and longing, US/Mexico history. And food!

  51. Donna says:

    Love this post, Anne! I definitely told everyone about I Let You Go. I actually read it twice last year!
    Other books I am always sharing:
    The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
    And three books I’ve read so
    far this year that I can’t stop
    You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris. This is a short translated book. Leiris is a French journalist who’s wife was killed during in the Paris attacks. It spans the week following her death. He shares how he cares for his nineteen-month-old son, details of their daily routines, and his grieving process. The writing is so incredibly beautiful and it moved me to tears.
    Fractured by Catherine McKenzie. I devoured this psychological suspense over the weekend. I can’t stop telling everyone about it. Highly recommend!
    Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. I read it for the unreliable narrator category for the reading challenge. I finished it last night and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s YA and I don’t read much YA at all. But this is a must-read!!!!

  52. Julie says:

    This is such a fun list! I enjoyed many of these books too, and I love the diversity!! Here’s three books I’m talking about these days:
    Wonder, R.J. Palacio
    Love Warrior, Glennon Melton
    The Quotidian Mysteries, Kathleen Norris (thank you, Anne, for this recommendation on the podcast!)

    • L.B. says:

      Wonder – yes yes yes as soon as I read it had to talk and now when a student finishes all who have read it join in talking and re- enjoying the story again

    • Vicki says:

      I just got Quotidian Mysteries in my Christmas stocking!!!! (I always put what I want in there so the kids aren’t sad at how PITIFULLY EMPTY IT IS BECAUSE NO ONE TAKES CARE OF THE MOM!) (not bitter) (maybe a little)

    • Kerry Seiwert says:

      I am a K-8 school librarian (and I cannot stand YA!!–guilty secret!). I have pushed Wonder onto any student and/or class that I can. Loved that book! Also, gave 2 copies (not mine, of course) of Love Warrior as Christmas gifts this year. Best book I read last year.

  53. SoCalLynn says:

    We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
    This book has stayed with me, not just because of the horrific ending, but the things leading up to it. Great topics of nature vs. nurture, maternal instinct, parenting styles and blame, etc. Definite trigger warnings needed for this, but also so much discussion to be had.

  54. Emma says:

    Love this post! What Alice Forgot was an amazing book and you are right, I ran right out and shared it with all of my friends!!! I then bought all of the rest of the books by Liane and read them marathon style!

    “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society” is another one that I ran right out and told everyone about. Such a strange and FANTASTIC read, I highly recommend!!!

  55. Noga says:

    I enjoy talking with anyone who’s willing to listen about any NY book I read. Yes, the city, I think I just love saying this word: New York… Books about NY, even those that are set/written in mid 20th century put me in a NY (here, I said it again) state of mind! My top ones are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and All for the Boss by Rochoma Shain, which is less known because it was published by a publisher who publishes only Jewish books (Feldheim).

  56. Kara Hall says:

    I recently finished A Spool of Blue Thread and have desperately wanted to talk to someone about it. I’m making my mother read it.

  57. Shonda says:

    The Neopolitan series by Elena Ferrante. I’m currently at the end of book two and would love to talk about it with someone, but none of my friends has read it. Bummer.

  58. Mary Jane says:

    I had to discuss “The Glass Castle” immediately upon finishing! I pushed my husband to read it starting that night, and after that, anyone I could convince to read it and then discuss it with me.

    “Princess” is another fascinating book about a member of the Saudi royal family. There are two more books that are follow ups by the same author, who had to sneak them out of Saudia Arabia, lest the princess be revealed. The three books are a real window into the laws, customs, and wealth of the royal family.

    For anyone who has a love of learning and nonfiction, I absolutely recommend “Guns, Germs, And Steel”, a number one seller in college books. The author has an amazing breadth of scope and knowledge. It puts things into a perspective that many of us had never considered. I have recommended it repeatedly. One who didn’t at first want to read the book, came back from a visit to Greece and said how he then saw the value of the book, consuming it immediately. It’s a read that should be read by anyone to take them way beyond any history, sociology, or cultural studies they have ever had!

    • Joanne says:

      I loved “The Glass Castle” as well. Kind of makes me realize that I can go after whatever I want in life!

      Nonfiction is my favorite, so I’ll check out your suggestion on “Guns, Germs and Steel”.

  59. Jamie says:

    I just finished Sleeping Giants and the final chapter had me ACHING to find someone who had read it so we could go “WHAAAAAAA…???!!!” together. I’m about halfway through A Mother’s Reckoning, which is written by the mother of one of the Columbine shooters/suicide victims. It seems to be affecting me on both levels – at times it turns me deep into myself and causes me to reflect on my own life, while at other times I want to grab the person next to me and shout, “Did you know about this??!!!”

  60. Carmel says:

    Thanks for some great tips on books – I have read several on this list so look forward to exploring the rest but I can definitely recommend ALL of Liane Moriaty’s books – some are laugh out loud funny but all have a twist in the tale and a slightly creepy underbelly. An author whom I love is Amitav Gosh – in fact Indian writers! – his books The Hungry Tide, The Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies are books you want to live in!

  61. Joanne says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I haven’t read any on the list but it’s definitely going to be on my list of books to read! Can’t wait! Hoping 2017 will be my year of reading! 🙂

  62. Vicki says:

    The Old Filth series by Jane Gardam. Just so beautifully written. I kept reading aloud to everyone at our holiday vacation and they were actually not hating me for it and liked the writing. I was afraid they’d be irritated, but they kept listening and promised they weren’t annoyed. I love Jane Gardam and am completely smitten with her “voice”. Just so good – everyone should read her books! I’ve only read Old Filth, The Man in the Wooden Hat, and A Long Way From Verona. In each one, I am bummed that they’re library books. I’ve filled pages in my quote journal!

  63. Kristi says:

    I have read 4 books on your list – Rebecca (I agree – it definitely has a modern feel to it – couldn’t believe it was written so long ago) A Handmaid’s Tale – (Would read again in a heartbeat). I Let You Go – (I actually just recommended this one to someone who asked for some good books to read – it stuck with me after I finished) and The Road (I listened to this one and couldn’t get the dad’s voice out of my head when he kept saying “It’s okay.”)
    I would add The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron (I think) and Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor – this is the first in a series.

  64. Irene carrick says:

    The bees by Paul laline is very interesting -lots to discuss great for bookclub discussions and if you liked hsndmaids tale you’ll like it

    • Loie says:

      Handmaid’s Tale is one of my all-time favourite books! I’ve read it at least a dozen times, the first time when I was 15. If you haven’t read it, I really would give it a try.

  65. I read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, probably a must-read for any blogger, and yes it was scary in a sense. But mostly it just made me angry that in today’s world, pathetic, bedwedding snowflake Social Justice Warriors can ruin someone’s life for expressing themselves (or for a complete misunderstanding).

    Just added several books to my library holds, thanks for the list!

  66. The most recent ones I can think of are All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (I’m not sure I even liked the book..but was dying to discuss it with others who read it) and Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (which I didn’t like, but needed to iron out some major questions).

    It’s funny – some of my best performing blog posts have been spoiler discussions where we hash out all the nitty gritty details. So, I guess the need to talk about certain books is reflected in the numbers as well.

  67. Holli Petersen says:

    So, I recently finished Columbine by David Cullen. It was my “book in a genre you usually avoid.” As a HSP, this is not something I would normally consider reading, but I could NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! Honestly, I didn’t even recommend it (because who can recommend pure agony), I just needed someone to help me process what I was reading.There were so many things I thought I knew, but absolutely didn’t know. There were so many things I couldn’t even fathom happening that happened. I wish I could just sit down and chat with the author and say, “Wow.” I’m STILL thinking and talking about it. It’s the type of book you have to have a “chaser” book to read after you finish a particularly brutal chapter just so you can sleep. I recommend reading this in tandem with “At Home in Mitford.” Only Father Tim can get you through Columbine!

  68. Melanie says:

    I finished The Wonder by Emma Donoghue and immediately sent texts to a couple of friends encouraging them to read it so that we could talk about it. I fell in love with Everyone Brave is Forgiven (read it twice in six months, which I never do) and would love to have a discussion on who is the most brave and who is in the greatest need of forgiveness. I’m also fascinated by Brideshead Revisited and would love to have a good discussion about it.

  69. Donna says:

    I can most definitely relate! I feel this way about:

    Defending Jacob by William Landay – I read it two years ago and I still think about it. I recommended it to one of my librarians who was putting together his Winter 2017 book club titles.)

    A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett – I read this in Winter 2015 and I still think about it today. Highly, highly recommend it!

    Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan – I read this for ‘a book you previously abandoned’ category for last year’s reading challenge and I’m sooooo happy I did. So much to talk about here.

    I See You by Clare Mackintosh – I read this in two days when it came out here in Canada in November. When I turned the final page, I just sat there. I thought about it in the shower, while brushing my teeth, at work. The themes are so timely and important and there is just so much to discuss! Unfortunately, none of my friends have read it yet.:(

    As always, thanks for sharing!

  70. Monika says:

    Thank you for recommending What Alice Forgot! I’m halfway trough with it and CANNOT stop thinking about it! I’m very happily married for 9 years now and have 4 beautiful children. So as you can imagine I had an extremely intense past 10 years. There are sad events, accidents that I wish I could forget but there are scares to remind us. But there are mostly an uncountable number of joyful and happy memories! Reading this book just makes me cherish them even more. It makes me think about the memory-bank of my family that I deposite every single day!

  71. Mary Kate says:

    Yes yes yes to In the Woods. I still talk about that book in person and on the internet with people. My post on what I believe actually happened in the end is the most trafficked one on my blog, haha.

    And “I Let You Go” is on my owned TBR because someone compared it to Tana French, my favorite writer ever.

    Other books ripe for discussion:
    Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
    The Chaos Walking Trilogy, Patrick Ness
    Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance

  72. I have just finished Promise by Australian author Sarah Armstrong. I cannot remember a book effecting quite so much for quite awhile. I read it with tears in my eyes and an anxious knot in my stomach. Compelling.
    The story revolves around Anna who realises after new neighbours move in next door something is very wrong. She can hear their five year old daughter Charlie crying, then sees injuries on the little girl that she cannot ignore. Anna reports the family to police and the authorities but no one comes to Charlie’s aid.
    When the child turns up at her door asking for help, the only thing Anna can think to do is to take her and run.
    Raising deep questions about our responsibility to the children around us, Promis asks: If Charlie were my neighbour what would I do?

  73. ellen says:

    For anyone who has ever worked with special education students at any grade level, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is a book written from the point of view of a mother whose daughter has special emotional and educational learning needs. This was a “burn the midnight oil” book, followed by a run into school the next day book with me screaming to fellow teacher friends, “You have to read this book ASAP!”
    I won’t spoil the story line… Be prepared. The ending is POWERFUL.

  74. Definitely Rebecca and A Handmaid’s Tale, although I could add most Atwood I’ve read to this list!
    I’d add Occupied by Joss Sheldon, True Picture by Alison Habens and The Ark Before Noah by Irving Finkel. All brilliantly thought-provoking and provocative for different reasons.
    Thanks for all the suggestions on this post and comments. Lots of food for my TBR list!

  75. Mary Jo Durivage says:

    I recommend the novel PERFECT PEACE by Daniel Black.
    It left me asking “What does it mean to be male? To be female”

  76. LadyWoman says:

    Special Topics in Calamity Physics! A friend recommended that to me years ago specifically because she needed someone she could talk with.

    I’d pick The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. The story and the writing were both worth talking about. I actually read it because it was a book club pick…and then literally no one but I and one other girl finished it so we didn’t even get to talk about it and I was SUPER bummed.

  77. Jime says:

    Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K Rowling.
    Many people won’t like it because they think it’s just another Harry Potter book and saldo, but at the same time in a good way, it’s nothing like the previous 7 books.
    You do realize the book was not written only by J.K Rowling, because of the way it’s written, but the whole plot and all that happens leaves you (or at least it left me) with the need of talking to someone who had already read it.
    Nothing like all the previos book of Harry Potter, but still a very good book to read and talk about with friends.

  78. Bethany says:

    I’m only 2/3 of the way through it, but The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It was so slow to start, but now I’m cruising. I can’t wait to get to book club to talk about it.

  79. Aisha Muhdhar says:

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read it all in one sitting (it is pretty short) and now I feel like my heart will burst because I have no one to rant to about it. I have to admit that I watched the movie first (shamefully) and I fell in love with Gatsby instantly so I couldn’t help but cry during the end but after reading the book, my whole outlook has changed. In the end, I no longer cried, instead I pitied. Fitzgerald delves more into detail and makes Gatsby’s life much more meaningful than what the movie actually portrays. Only a few books have ever left me this emotionally torn apart.

  80. Jen says:

    The After series by Anna Todd. It is a YA series, but she makes you love and hate the characters at the same time! I could not put the 4 books down the whole time I was reading them. If you read them, make sure you have book 2 ready to read as soon as you finish book 1!

  81. Jessica says:

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Beautifully written and I’m still thinking about it several days after finishing!

  82. Leslie Dupont says:

    OMG!! If I was ever to be on WSIRN, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty would be one of my top 3 books. I have become an avid fan of Moriarty thanks to you, Anne, and this was my favorite. I was anxious and my heart in knots wondering what would happen to Alice and her husband. Needless to say, I was overjoyed by the ending. Into the Woods by Tana French was a book I have been desperate to talk to someone about, but none of my close friends are readers. I normally like a book with an ending tied up in a pretty bow. That was not the case for this book!! It left me sad, scared, a little disappointed, but not in a bad way. French’s writing is so amazing, I feel like I’m living the story myself. I read The Road a number of years ago, but it is a book burned in my mind. I loved it, but finished it and sat down and cried. I just had an overwhelming sadness for the boy and his father. The writing is so dark, but you truly feel the despair the father and son have. A One-in-a-Million Boy was definitely not a book I would have read without the number of positive reviews, but I was glad I did. Although it was rather slow to move along, the underlying story of the father, son, and the intermediary of a 104 year old woman was amazing. Many of the other books are on my TBR and if they leave me with any of the feelings the ones I have already read, I can’t wait to devour them!

  83. Mohamed Moustafa-Kamal says:

    When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi), Paper Love ( Sarah Wildman), and Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes).

  84. Susan says:

    I’m looking over this post and the comments, and there are so many books on it that are on my “to read” list. Every once in awhile you see those photos of isolated cottages with the caption asking if you’d be willing to stay there for a month with no electronics/communication devices for a certain amount of money. Oh yes please…as long as I can bring books! Right now I’m reading Like a River from It’s Course…definitely a book to discuss with others!

  85. Jennifer J Geisler says:

    Why won’t You Apologize? by Harriet Lerner is my latest must read. It’s paperback, brief, an easy read and packed with important wisdom about apologies – how to give them, why it’s so important to accept them and what to do when someone should apologize to you and won’t. I’m gathering my favorite 7 women for lunch and a chance to talk about this book.

  86. Veronica says:

    Leaving Time by Jodi Piccoult would be at the top of this list for me! I agree with What Alice Forgot, so good. Americanah is on my TBR list. Thanks, Anne!

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