A Year’s Worth of Great Book Group Choices

Last night I went along to my regular book group at the South Bank and I have to say that the choice – George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four went down a storm. For me and a couple of others it was a re-read and for other people it was one of those that they always meant to read but never got around too and I think it’s fair to say they were glad they finally did!

I’m not going to review it here, as I will just waffle on and Savidge Reads has done an excellent synopsis and review, but I will say that reading it again I really appreciated the language and imagery because I wasn’t struggling to get to grips with the new world and ideas in the book. What it did get me thinking about though was what makes for a good ‘book group’ choice. I think that Nineteen Eighty-Four contains the key elements that for me make a great choice. I think these are;

  1. Challenges what you think you know / encourages you to think differently
  2. High standard of writing but;
  3. Is accessible (not too obscure or confusing)

It’s difficult to judge whether a book will be enjoyable, with so many different tastes in a group but I think if you fulfil these 3 criteria then you have the good basis for a debate and a feeling of satisfaction that you’ve read something worthwhile.

My 12 favourite books that I’ve read and enjoyed as part of a book group are:

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey

Atonement– Ian McEwan

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Animal’s People – Indra Sinha

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golding

The Handmaid’s Tale (Contemporary classics) – Margaret Atwood

On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote


What book group choices have you enjoyed and why?

12 responses to “A Year’s Worth of Great Book Group Choices

  1. It is interesting to see that almost all your favourites are classics. I wonder if it is because the great books stand the test of time and interest a lot of people.

    I would have loved to be at your Kafka at the Shore book group. I almost chose a Murakami for our group – he is one of my favourite authors and I’d love to hear what others think of his weirdness!

    • Yes, the wierdness aspect of Murakami makes for great discussion! Although perhaps he’s not for everyone, but that doesn’t matter does it?! I guess a lot of them are classics in the sense of being modern classics but I think you are right they do become so because they stand the test of time.

  2. Oh I have been at a few of the book group choices you have mentioned and I think you are spot on. I would say out of all of them though A Thousand Splendid Suns didnt quite work for me (and I can say that as I was there ha) and one that really, really did was Half of a Yellow Sun which is still to this day one of my all time favourite books.

    • Yes I nearly added Half of a Yellow sun, but it didn’t fit into the twelve and I liked Splendid Suns better hahaha. But you’re right, Half of a Yellow Sun was a good one. You know I had alot of trouble remembering everything I’ve done for book groups so just went with the ones that stuck out in my mind.

  3. Oh! I’ve actually read six of those, and all of them make great bookclub choices!

    Interesting to see two McEwans there..

    • Thank you! I am a bit of a McEwan fan I have to say and every one I’ve read for a book group has really caused quite a discussion – especially On Chesil Beach which caused a bit of an argument between the male and female members of the group!

  4. Have to agree with savidgereads…I didn’t like A Thousand Splendid Suns although I did love the Kite Runner. Excellent book group choices for the rest. Love the Bell Jar and Atonement.

    • I think if I had to choose, I loved the Kite Runner more although I think Thousand Splendid Suns is quite different and maybe I enjoyed it because of the insight into the female perspective it gave me. Atonement really is amazing though – perfect for just reading and perfect for a book group!

  5. The only one of these I’ve read for a book group is A Thousand Splendid Suns, and it was a great book club read. I’ve read several of the others on my own and agree that they would be great for discussion.

    Some of my favorite book club reads were White Teeth, Love in the Time of Cholera, Stolen Lives, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, and Into the Wild. These were all enjoyable reads, and we had good discussions.

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