New releases are fun, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s also something satisfying about returning to older (or “backlist” in publishing lingo) books that came out years ago. In this series, Bookish curates the best book club picks from a given year. Check out these outstanding book club books from the year 2001. We bet your club will love this blast from the past.
This novel by Jonathan Franzen made a splash when it was published in 2001, and won a National Book Award that year. The Corrections follows the lives of the members of the Lambert family. Parents Enid and Alfred have three adult children: Their eldest son Gary is a banker, middle child Chip is making big changes in his life and just relocated to the Big Apple, and the youngest, Denise, is in the midst of a divorce. You’ll take a deep dive into the lives, relationships, and plans of the Lamberts as Alfred’s health begins to fail. Your book club will love dissecting the complexities of the family relationships in this beloved novel.
Amy Tan’s books make fabulous book club picks, and The Bonesetter’s Daughter is no exception. This novel introduces readers to mother LuLing and her daughter Ruth. LuLing is aging: She isn’t as sharp as she used to be, and is having trouble remembering things. The two have never had the smoothest relationship, but Ruth gains new insight into her mother’s background and perspective when LuLing gifts her a manuscript she has written about her life growing up in China. If your book club loves historical fiction with vibrantly rendered mother-daughter relationships, Amy Tan is always a good bet. The Bonesetter’s Daughter is no exception, and we think your club will love it.
This book begins when terrorists break into a high-profile birthday party and hold all of the guests hostage. Among the guests are an internationally beloved opera singer and the Japanese businessman who loves her music with his entire heart. While this book does detail a tense hostage situation, readers will be spellbound by the relationships between characters and their rich inner lives. Patchett humanizes the captives and the terrorists, and readers will find themselves sympathizing with all of them. This book has the setup of a thriller with tons of heart and depth.
Neil Gaiman fans, you’re in luck: If you’ve been watching Good Omens on Amazon and feel like checking out some of his other work, there are lots of great books to choose from. And what better place to start than the award-winning American Gods? Shadow is about to get out of prison when tragedy strikes: His wife is killed in a car accident, and his world is turned upside down. Shadow leaves prison and prepares himself to pick up the pieces of his life when he meets a man named Mr. Wednesday who is on an unusual journey. Readers, we don’t want to spoil your experience, but trust us when we say this one is a classic for a reason.
If your book club is interested in reading more nonfiction, Seabiscuit is a perfect book to pick up. It’s an immersive work of narrative nonfiction that will transport your club to the 1930s and the ascent of one of the most famous racehorses of all time. Seabiscuit was never supposed to be a famous racehorse: When Charles Howard bought the horse, it seemed like Seabiscuit might never have much of a career. Similarly, jockey Red Pollard had endured his fair share of disappointments as professional boxer and wasn’t sure what was next. Seabiscuit and Red would form a unique partnership and shock the world with their successes. Some works of nonfiction are so vibrantly rendered that they feel like novels: Seabiscuit is one of those books.
As your book club may know, John Henry is the subject of a famous legend. The tale holds that John Henry was so good at steel driving that he challenged a steam-powered machine to a contest and won. Unfortunately, the exertion proved fatal. Colson Whitehead uses this legend as the starting point for his novel John Henry Days, which was released to critical acclaim. He also folds in the story of a modern day writer named J. Sutter and his journalist friends. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly raved, “Smart, learned, and soaringly ambitions, [Whitehead’s] second novel consolidates his position as one of the leading writers of serious fiction of his generation.”