I terribly miss meeting my book club and hanging out with friends, thanks to 2020, again! But that has not stopped us from reading books together as a club (and then argue over a Zoom meet) and buddy reads. Since we discovered several gems this year, here is my list of best books for your books club.
Best books for your book club
I am sure these book suggestions would keep the conversations coming, during your book club meets.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.
Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved.
When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of
Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies.
Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
Similar book lists you might like
What are your contenders for the “Best books for your book club” list? Which book kept your book club conversations going on and on? Let us talk.
The book you choose to read makes a great difference in what you gain. You can choose a murder mystery or romance to get you to relax, but do they help you in gaining knowledge? What if I say there are books eight books that will make you smarter that are enjoyable too?
Books that will make you smarter
Here are my top eight choices for books that will make you smarter. Let us start shall we?
1) What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Author: Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe of xkcd.com fame (a former physicist and NASA robotics employee turned brilliant comics artist) provides scientific answers for absurd questions in his book What if.
With his trademark humor and illustrations, What if is perfect for anyone who wants to know the answers for the hypothetical questions.
2) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
Change the way you think of history of humankind by reading Sapiens. What could have made us, the way we are as a society? Could the fictions we spin helped us to behave better as a group?
Harari makes us realize everything we have read about pre-historic world, in our schools and beyond, is just a sample on what could have happened. Sapiens is a must read if you are curious (and you should be) about the history of mankind.
3) Thinking, Fast and Slow
Author: Daniel Kahneman
This book has its place in every list of must read non fiction and rightly so. The Nobel prize winning author talks about human thinking that is of two types – one like it is on an auto pilot and the more conscious thinking.
With real life examples on how these different cognitive abilities affect real life decision making, Thinking, Fast and Slow is an interesting read that can make you smarter!
4) Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain
Author: Dr. Ryuta Kawashima
Designed specifically for adults who want to stay sharp, the book is a bestseller in Japan since it was published.
With daily 5 minute exercise with simple mathematics problems, this is a great work book to help you become sharper and smarter soon.
5) Stuff Matters
Author: Mark Miodownik
Stuff matters takes us on a brilliant tour of various materials that we see and use in life (like concrete, chocolate and glass) and tells why these materials have a specific characteristic.
Why do some materials have an odor? Why some glass shatter and others are bullet proof? In his own witty and anecdotal way makes us think and enjoy his tour through material science.
6) A Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
This is one of those book that everyone should read as soon as possible. Bryson offers a crash course on all your existential crisis and provides answers to them with his wry humor.
From UFOs to bacteria to radioactivity this book nearly covers everything that a smart person should know. And the writing is pretty fun too.
7) The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Considered as one of the text book guide on competing in the modern business world, The art of war talks about the psychology and strategy for the warfare.
But the principles of the ancient Chinese warfare could be applied to any competitive situation and/or conflict resolution or just to understand the human psychology.
It is a must read for CEO and wanna be high executives alike.
8) A Brief History of Time
Author: Stephen Hawking
Written in a plain language without too many scientific terms, this book shot the author as pop cultural icon. This book talks about black holes, universe and antimatter and answers profound questions, in a way anyone could understand it.
A perfect book that will make you smarter with a little bit of effort.
That’s it for now folks, these are my top eight choice of books to make you smarter.
If you like my suggestions you should check out my other book recommendation lists here.
Similar book lists that you may like
Let us chat
So what do you think about my choice of books that will make you smarter? Have you read any of them? Suggest your favorite non fiction book. Let me know in the comments.
Are you a new reader who wants to kick start the reading habit? Or you may be returning to reading books for pleasure after a long gap? Either way if you are looking for book recommendations, I got you covered.
How to choose books to help you read more?
My criteria for this starter pack for new readers would be books that are
- currently relevant
- funny and romantic
- thrillers and horrors
- adapted into Series/movies
- Non fiction / self help books
Books to kick start the reading habit
Let us get on with my recommendations, shall we?
1) A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman
This is one of those heartwarming books that would bring a smile to your cold heart.
Ove is a mean, grumpy and opinionated old man, who looks forward to the day he would join his late wife, Sonja. What happens to this grumpy old man when he unwillingly meets his messy neighbors, forms the rest of the story.
Read my review of A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman here
2) Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Red, White & Royal Blue is such a cute, sweet and funny LGBTQA romance that will definitely keep your lock down sorrows go away.
The sons of the first families of The USA and the UK hate each other dislike each other and the world knows it. The first families and their PRs decide to intervene and stage a fake Instagram relationship. What starts as a fake friendship between them blossoms into something more.
Read my review of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston here
3) The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Satoru and his feral cat Nana, have settled into a comfortable companionship. But Satoru suddenly decides to give away Nana and they embark on a journey to find a suitable home among his friends. Read The Travelling Cat Chronicles to join the duo on their travel through Japan and Satoru’s childhood memories!
The Travelling Cat Chronicles is a feel good book, with a bittersweet ending. Be prepared to cry, laugh and snicker throughout!
Read my review of The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa here
4) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Maddy led a very sheltered life all through her life due to her illness. She has never stepped out of her house in years and her mother and her nurse are the only one she interacts with. Them and her book blog. Until a new family moves to their neighborhood.
You might like this short YA romance with a twist you wouldn’t see coming!
Read my review of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon here
5) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of those rare movie adaptation that was as good as the book.
The story revolves around Lara Jean, an introvert who writes letters to her crushes to get it out of her system. Unexpectedly those get delivered to all those boys and hilarity ensues.
This Young Adult book and its movie adaptation took everyone by a storm. You will love it if you are looking for a cute romance with teenage angst!
Read my review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han here.
6) When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dimple Shah has ambitious plans for her life and has been accepted to Stanford. But her parents have other plans for her. Dimple ambushed by her parents hates Rishi even before she gets a chance to know him. Does her opinion about Rishi changes after she knows him better?
When Dimple Met Rishi is a cute YA contemporary romance that would make you grin in all the right places.
Read my review of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon here
7) One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus
One of us is lying begins at detention with five students that fit the popular stereotypes (the Breakfast Club?)
Things go haywire when one of them dies of an allergic reaction right in front of them at the detention center. The police suspect foul play and the other four teens are brought under spotlight.
Did the fact that Simon was going to publish their secrets on his website the next day had anything to do with his death? You will have to read One of us is lying to know more.
One of us is lying is definitely an easy to read book and I finished reading it in a few hours. And needless to say it was un-put-down-able. Perfect to start your reading habit!
Read my review of One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus here
8) The Woman In The Window by Finn A J
Dr. Anna Fox’s daily routine includes drinking a lot of wine while being highly medicated, watching retro movies and peeking into her neighbours’ house through their windows.
But when she sees something untoward happening at her neighbors’ she has no grounds to report about it. How she proves that she did not hallucinate and finds out the culprit form the rest of the story in The Woman in the Window.
The Woman in the Window will keep you occupied and might even turn to be unputdownable. With the movie version coming before the end of the year, you might wanna read it already.
Read my review of The Woman In The Window by Finn A J here
9) The Hate u give by Angie Thomas
Stuck between the two worlds and parents who have different views about their lives, Starr feels an outsider in both places. Starr understands her lives are universes apart and has never had to choose between them – until the fateful night, her unarmed friend Khalil gets shot by a cop in front of her eyes.
Should she remain silent, as her mother and uncle want her to be, and save herself from the wrath of the public and her own peers at school? Or should she put her life in danger, give a voice to the cause that may lead nowhere?
The Hate U Give is essentially a coming of age story in the present American scenario, dealing with racism, bullying and violence. It is inspired by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, obviously but is much more than that.
It is an honest account of a strong black family that has nothing to do with the gangs or drugs but is put to trial because of their skin colour.
Read my review of The Hate u give by Angie Thomas here.
10) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Set in not so distant dystopian future, women have lost all that they won in the recent past, at least partially – the ability to chose what they wore, what they did for life or even handle money. They are forbidden from reading, writing and even speaking freely.
Their existence is based on their functionality – the wives (in charge of the household), the helps (Marthas), the teachers (Aunts), the wombs (Handmaids), the sexual toys ( Jezebels) and the outcasts (Unwoman) are sent to Colonies where they are left to harvest cotton or clean up the radioactive waste.
Offred, our narrator, a handmaid belongs to Fred, who is on her third and final attempt to conceive a child with a government appointed ‘Commander.’
Offred falls for Nick, the Guardian for the commander, a crime that could lead them both to be publicly hung. Was the risk worth taking? Did she learn anything about her family? Read to know more.
The Handmaid’s Tale might be a little hard to get into, yet once you are into it, you can not stop it. You can not read The Handmaid’s Tale as a breeze through the weekend. You can not unsee once you have been to the Republic of Gilead and not relate it to the real world.
Read my review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood here.
11) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The book follows the journeys of a young shepherd boy on his search for ancient treasure. The philosophical theme that ‘the universe conspires to help us achieve things we want’ is well written and shines through.
This simple and brief fable took the world by storm when it came out. The message is still relevant today. And perfect for someone who wants to kick start the reading habit.
Read my review of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho here
12) Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
The book is divided into two parts, a short story and then the relevant message. The basic theme of the books is how to deal with change and the importance of the right attitude in life.
While it is usually classified as a business subject, it is equally possible for anyone if us to implement them in our life.
Read my review of Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson here
What do you think about my choices? Would you recommend these books to someone who wants to start the reading habit? If you are someone who is starting the reading habit just now, let me know what you choose. Let us talk.
The International Mothers Day falls on the 12th May of this year and I hope you all have got your gifts all packed for your mothers. And if you are a mother yourself, I hope you have a special day for yourself.
Badass Mothers from the books
While we are on the topic, I am gonna use this chance to talk about my favorite mothers in the literary world that I totally love.
Margaret March (Marmee) of Little Women
Marmee is an epitome of strong women in not just literary world. She raised her four daughters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy under the terrible circumstances of the Civil war that called their father away and drained them financially.
But she never lost her patience and smile even she reprimanded her girls, who turned out to be well read and ambitious making Marmee a great feminist ahead of her times.
Mrs Bennett, Pride and Prejudice
I know Mrs Bennett was not exactly a role model to mothers, but she always had her heart set out for the best of her daughters which was in her eyes – getting married to wealthy men.
She had less or no support from her husband in this area, and despite him, she did achieve what she set out for. I guess that makes her a badass mother. Don’t you agree?
Marilla Cuthbert of Anne of Green Gables
As quite opposite to Marmee, Marilla was not pleasant and she seldom smiled. She didn’t even let Anne call her ‘Aunt Marilla’. But that definitely doesn’t undermine her strength and love for her ward. She was a feminist and practical woman who comes to love the orphan in her own way.
Ma from Room
Despite being imprisoned in a small room for years, Emma did all she could to keep her son Jack, who has never been outside the four walls in his life, spirited and full of positivism.
She does not only teach him to read and write but keeps him engaged creatively and even gets him do yoga. That alone makes her a badass mother.
Cersei Lannister of A Song of Ice and Fire series
I am currently binging on the Game of Thrones and I would never be able to sleep if I don’t add Cersei to the list of badass women. I initially wanted to add Catelyn Stark. But now that I have watched the third season, I know Cersei will be the better choice.
She has her flaws about her being power hungry, cunning, ruthless and such. But one thing that comes so strong is her love towards her children. Her motto was ‘don’t mess with my cubs’, right from the beginning even when they were not appreciative enough.
Let us chat
Did I miss your favorite mothers in the list? Tell me who is your favorite mother in the fiction world. What are your plans for the Mother’s day? Let us talk.
If it were up to us, the bookworms, every book would have a great plot and well written. But sadly that is not the case! And we come across some not so great books often and a few even test our sanity.
Earlier, we came up with some books with ridiculous titles and insane book covers that made us wonder if the authors were being satirical. It has been a while since we had a laugh around here, so I am sharing the next edition of book covers that made me question my sanity.
Insane book covers I found recently
Burglary anyone? Don’t worry this book will teach how to do that effectively!
I didn’t think the unlocking was quite this literal
I don’t wanna say anything anymore!
Say what? Is it weird that I am genuinely curious now?
Whoa! What is this thing?
There are worse things to live with, don’t you agree?
This is definitely creepy. And also, we are talking about musical instruments right?
Let us talk
How many of these covers caught your fancy? Have you come across such weird ones yourself? Did these make you