If you’re a member of our monthly, virtual book club, Mom’s Book Nook, you know my favorite part of every month is at the end. We ask everyone for book recommendations for the next month. I love discovering new books, genres and authors to add to my reading list, but not all great books make for great book club selections. After several years hosting real book clubs, and nearly two years now of our virtual one, I find the following 8 tips help choose books that make for the best book club discussions.
Make Book Club Selections that Lead to Awesome Discussions
The whole point of book club (other than the wine!) is to have a great dialogue about books. Both about the book you actually read, and other great books you and your members have read or discovered to read next! However, not every great book, makes for great book club discussions. Without a bit of controversy or difference in opinion (within the storyline or among the readers), the book discussion can fall flat or only last a few minutes.
Over time, I’ve found the following tricks to choose book club selections that both keep up club participation and make for lively group discussions.
Cast a net beyond the Best Sellers
One of the fun parts of book club is uncovering books you haven’t (or can’t) already read everything about. The best sellers list is widely read and followed – your club members have likely already read them or glazed over the description and decided they weren’t interested. They may also be hard to obtain for members who want to save money and pick up club selections from the library, as they often have a long waiting list.
Choose an older book by a Best Selling author
Whenever I read a book I love, I always turn back to the front of the book at the end to see what else the author has written. When the list is long, it’s like Christmas! There are a handful of great authors I follow and read everything they put out. When a new to you author hits the Best Sellers list, check and see if they’ve published other novels before – and choose one of their less mainstream works instead.
If it’s been out longer, it’s probably easier to get at the library, or find in paperback. Here are some highly acclaimed older works by today’s best selling authors.
Pick books already out in paperback
To encourage the most participation, choosing books that are already available in paperback makes sure your book club selection is more readily available to all your book club members. It reduces the cost of participating for everyone. Older books are more readily available both at the library and via ebook libraries too, for members who choose to check out club selections.
Read books BEFORE they come out in theaters
As book lovers, we all know the book is always better than the movie. But books chosen to grace the big screen, are almost always excellent. They have creative plot lines, intriguing characters and pull at your emotions. It’s usually also been out for a bit, and readily available. So the next time you hear a book is being made into a movie, make it your next book club selection.
Take recommendations from club members
Duh! Book club members are more likely to be active participants when they contribute and participate in the book club selections. My favorite part of every book club discussion is the part at the end where everyone throws out suggestions for the next month’s book. Every month I learn about awesome books I would never have picked out for myself – and it’s dramatically broadened my choice of genres as well.
When left to my own devices, I tend to lead towards historical fiction, epic generational sagas, and occasionally, lighter beach reads. While historical fiction always lends itself well to great discussions, expanding our book club selections to include Young Adult novels, Psychological Thrillers, and even satires, has provided great discussion points too.
Keeping things varied, keeps book club selections more interesting too!
Choose books with multiple narrators
Whenever an author makes the decision to tell a story from multiple perspectives, you can almost always bet there’s a great reason for it. The format itself makes for a great discussion point. And while there can always be too much of a good thing (In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume had so many characters I needed a map to keep up with them all), it usually positively contributes to the story and your book club discussion.
Here are a few of our book club’s favorite multi-narrator novels.
Check out Amazon, Goodreads recommendations
The algorithm’s of the Internet are pretty smart. One of my favorite ways to find new books to read is to use them to my advantage. On Amazon, when I look up this month’s Mom’s Book Nook Selection, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, Amazon will show me other books purchased by buyers of The Good Girl. Scroll down to see Frequently Bought Together and Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought for an endless supply of book club selection options.
Goodreads will take this one step further for you. Goodreads, for those who don’t use it already, is the ultimate in social media for book lovers. Create list of books you want to read, and leave reviews for the books you’ve read… and see what your friends have to say about them too. Goodreads will then use your reading list and reviews to recommend books to you! Hover over the recommendations to learn more about the book, AND the book Goodreads is basing their recommendations on.
Give feedback – add their recommendations to your reading list or say you aren’t interested to help them give you even better book recs.
How do you choose your book club selections? What’s been your book club’s favorite book club pick? To insure you have a great discussion no matter the book you choose, check out 10 Discussion Questions Your Book Club with Love from our Mom’s Book Nook co-host, Sunny Day Family.
Want to be part of our virtual book club? It’s super easy – every month we announce the book on the 1st Monday of the month. Read it, and join our Mom’s Book Nook group on Facebook for the monthly discussion, the last Monday of the month at 9PM ET. Follow us on Goodreads, IG and Pinterest for more great book discussion and book club ideas.
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