If you have spent any time at a book club you probably know that most of them are an excuse to enjoy wine, snacks and gossip. But every now and then, something like World Literacy Day comes along and gives us a reason to find novels that get everyone talking about what they are reading, rather than who won big at a mobile casino, which friends new shoes are truly dreadful, or whose faithless spouse was caught with the nanny.
With World Literacy Day falling on the 8th of September this year, the time is ripe to look for novels that are worth reading, and not only because they are well-written. Our list makes finding the books that will get your club all shook up so much simpler!
1. The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin
Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists is novel you need to add to your book club’s collection. The unputdownable epic follows the lives of four teenagers who visited a travelling psychic and learned the dates of their deaths.
2. A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out – Sally Franson
Pop culture, social media, feminism, and the world of literary authors all make it into Sally Franson’s debut novel, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out. Witty and wise, the story follows Casey Pendergast as she tries to make sense of a sell-out career and her own identity.
3. Augustown – Kei Miller
In Augustown, award-winning writer Kei Miller will transport you to 1980s Jamaica. Blind Ma Taffy’s great-nephew Kaia returns from school after a teacher dismissed his Rastafari beliefs and cut off his dreadlocks. The unsettling incident awakens youthful memories in Ma Taffy; something that ultimately has consequences for the entire community.
4. A Place For Us – Fatima Farheen Mirza
Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place For Us may be one of the most moving books you read this year. A family wedding brings together an Indian family living in the US. As usually happens during matrimonial celebrations, various members of the family are forced to confront aspects of themselves and others.
5. How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
High school history teacher Tom Hazard has a secret. He has been alive for centuries, is being protected by a secret society, and has just broken a cardinal rule by falling in love. The latest offering from bestselling author Matt Haig is sure to shake up your book club.
6. Tin Man – Sarah Winman
If you want a novel that will yank your heartstrings, Tin Man by Sarah Winman is it. The story begins with a childhood friendship between Ellis and Michael, two boys who have much in common, such as not knowing how to swim, and having abusive fathers. The story picks up more than a decade later, when we find one of them married, while the other is nowhere to be seen.
7. The Pisces – Melissa Broder
Romance and eroticism with a supernatural slant are what you will get in The Pisces by Melissa Broder. After breaking up with her boyfriend, Lucy spends some time at her sister’s Venice Beach house. She tries unsuccessfully to pick up the pieces of her life, which takes an interesting turn when she falls in love with nothing less than a merman.f you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children–four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness–sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel struggles to maintain security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
Both a dazzling family love story and a sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
8. Warlight – Michael Ondaatje
Imagination, reality, and memory are put under the spotlight in the latest masterpiece from Michael Ondaatje. Set in 1945, Warlight gives us a glimpse into the lives of Nathaniel and his sister Rachel. Apparently abandoned by their parents during the war, they are now in the care of a strange character they refer to as the Moth. Their mother arrives as the mystery of their caretaker deepens.
9. The Female Persuasion – Meg Wolitzer
In her novel, Female Persuasion, Meg Wolitzer tells the story of Greer Kadetsky, a college freshman who meets a women’s movement hero. As it turns out, the admirer becomes the admired one; something that leads Greer to tackle serious personal questions.
10. Love and Ruin – Paula McLain
Paula McLain’s historical novel, Love and Ruin, is a poignant telling of the story of journalist and writer Martha Gellhorn. In 1937, at age 28, she travelled to Madrid in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. She fell in love with Ernest Hemingway just before he published his greatest work, and then set about trying to carve out her own niche as a writer.
11. Sociable – Rebecca Harrington
Rebecca Harrington’s laugh-out-loud funny novel, Sociable, follows the adventures and misadventures of would-be journalist Elinor Tomlinson. Her dream of reporting in the Big Apple are dashed when the only work she can find is as a nanny. However, her life changes drastically after she is offered a job in Silicon Valley.
12. The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky – Jana Casale
Jana Casale tackles modern womanhood. In the Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky, we meet Leda who, for the first time in her life, eats two scones in one day. An awkward attempt at engaging a cute man leads to her buying a Noam Chomsky book she never reads.
13. Anatomy Of a Miracle – Jonathan Miles
One hot afternoon in Biloxi, Mississippi, paraplegic Cameron Harris realises suddenly that he can walk. The apparent miracle attracts the attention of reporters, scientists, and even the Vatican – and puts his deepest secrets at risk of exposure. Written as newspaper reports, the novel is one of the most powerful to be published in 2018.
14. I Was Anastasia – Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon’s historical novel, I Was Anastasia, picks apart the 50-year-long story of Anna Anderson, the Polish-American woman who claimed not only that Anastasia Romanov survived the Yekaterinberg massacre, but also that she was the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. It is masterful, moving, and, in some places, downright startling.
15. Alternate Side – Anna Quindlen
On most days, Nora Nolan’s life in vibrant dead-end block in New York City seems idyllic. However, her reverie is brought to an end the day a tragic incident polarises not only her immediate community, but an entire city. Suddenly her roles as a woman, wife, and mother take on a new meaning. Anna Quindlen’s Alternative Side is an excellent addition to your book club’s collection.