Gather your favorite bookworms: It’s time for a book club meeting! If your club recently read and loved The Handmaid’s Tale, we have a dystopian pick you won’t want to miss. If your readers are craving something Shakespearean, there’s a retelling on this list for you. No matter what your book club likes to read we’ve got you covered.
For even more books for your beach bag, check out our summer must-read roundup.
Does your book club love the Bard? If so, we highly recommend you pick We That Are Young by Preti Taneja for your next meeting. This retelling of King Lear is set in modern-day India and recasts Shakespeare’s classic in a fascinating way. Devraj Bapuji has been running his business—simply called the Company—successfully for many years with the help of Ranjit Singh. But beneath the glamorous, wealthy surface of their lives, conflict, jealousy, and family tensions are brewing. This retelling will enthrall fans of the original, and captivate those who are coming to the story without prior knowledge of King Lear.
Christina Dalcher’s novel transports readers to a near-future America where the authoritarian government has stripped women of their jobs, their education, and now their voices. This is a world where women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. If they go over, they’re electrocuted by a wristband that women are forced to wear. Like other women, Dr. Jean McClellan, a cognitive linguist, was forced to give up her career and her voice. But when the president’s brother suffers a brain injury that affects his speech centers, Jean is called in to help. The average person speaks 16,000 words a day, and your book club will want to use every one of them to talk about this dystopian tale.
In Caz Frear’s Sweet Little Lies, your book club will encounter a detective living in London named Cat Kinsella. Cat has a troubled past: She suspects that her father had something to do with the disappearance of teenager named Maryanne Doyle years ago when Cat was a child. As a result, she and her dad have a strained relationship. Then, a new murder case lands on her desk, and it may have connections to the long-ago disappearance that has haunted her for years. This thriller will keep your book club guessing, and will fuel great conversations long into the night.
This August, introduce your book club to Darius—a high school sophomore who is struggling to fit in. At school, Darius is bullied relentlessly and struggles to make friends. When his family travels to Iran to visit his mother’s sick father, Darius doesn’t see his luck changing anytime soon. Then he meets Sohrab, his grandparents’ neighbor. Sohrab pushes Darius out of his shell and out into the world. They play soccer, explore the city, and better acquaint Darius with Persian culture. Along the way, Darius leaves behind thoughts of fitting in and begins to embrace who he truly is. This is one of our must-reads of the summer, and book clubs that love heartwarming coming-of-age stories won’t want to miss out. (Psst: We even have the first few chapters over on BookishFirst!)
It’s been said that comedy is tragedy plus time, and comedian Adam Cayton-Holland sets out to investigate that in his “tragi-comic” memoir about his younger sister and her death. Holland lived his early life in Colorado, the child of a reporter and a lawyer, and the brother to two sisters: one older, and one younger. His younger sister, Lydia, battled depression and lost her life to suicide just as Adam’s professional life as a comedian was taking off. This memoir addresses the difficulty of losing someone you love and the intricacies of family and the passage of time. Your book club will find lots to talk about—we promise.
Toil & Trouble edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood
Book clubs who love feminism, magic, and short stories could not ask for a better book this month. Toil & Trouble contains 15 tales about witches from around the world. Some are historical, some are futuristic, and all are positively enchanting. The collection includes stories by Brandy Colbert, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, and Brenna Yovanoff. This is one of our must-read recommendations of the summer, and we know your coven book club won’t be able to put it down.
Cherry by Nico Walker
Nico Walker’s autobiographical novel Cherry opens with a sweet love story. Boy meets girl. But from there, the story gets more complicated. The male narrator fails out of school in Cleveland when his love interest, Emily, moves to upstate New York. The narrator enlists in the army and marries Emily before being deployed to Iraq and experiencing unthinkable things that he will never be able to forget. Despite these horrors, he wins commendations for his work as a medic. When he returns home to Emily, he is haunted by PTSD. Both become addicted to heroin, and then the narrator begins robbing banks. Walker began serving a prison sentence for bank robbery in 2012, and sold this novel without an agent after writing it behind bars.
Book clubs looking for a hilarious and heartfelt tale will want to pick up Katie Henry’s YA debut. Being the new kid in school is tough, especially if you’re Michael Ausman—the atheist new kid at a Catholic high school. At first, Michael worries about finding anyone he can connect with. Then he’s invited to Heretics Anonymous, a secret group run by Max, a Korean-American Unitarian; Eden, a Celtic Reconstructionist Polytheist; Avi, who is gay and Jewish; and Lucy, a Colombian-American Catholic who dreams of a feminist, progressive church where she could become a priest. Michael encourages the group to stop talking about the changes they’d make to the school and start taking action instead. Heretics Anonymous takes to the hallways to fight the dress code, fix an incorrect sexual education lesson, and reveal the true reason why a beloved teacher was fired. But when Michael takes things a step too far, he puts his new friendships at risk. Prepare for conversations about belief, acceptance, and the divine power of friendship.