November Book Club Picks: The Moon, Iceland, and Alternate History

November Book Club Picks: The Moon, Iceland, and Alternate History

November is a great month for book club meetings. You get all of the holiday cheer of December with none of the risk of being snowed in or having to shovel out your car at the end of the evening. We’re excited, and so we’ve rounded up the best November releases for your book club to dive into and discuss. Light a fire in the fireplace, whip up some hot apple cider, and call your friends.

The Last Girl

Author Nadia Murad has lived through more in her twenty-some years of life than many do in a lifetime. She was living in Kocho, Iraq, where she was born, when members of the Islamic State violently attacked her home. Many of her friends and family were killed; Murad herself was forced into sex slavery. In this memoir, Murad writes of her capture and subsequent escape. This is a troubling, thoughtful, and ultimately fascinating book that book clubs will no doubt stay up late into the night discussing.

A Beautiful Young Woman

A man looks back on the life of his mother in this moving novel by Julián López. The son, who remains unnamed in the novel, recalls growing up under the thumb of Argentina’s military dictatorship. During that time, thousands of men and women who spoke or acted out against the government disappeared and were never heard from again. One day, the son returns home to find that his mother has become one of the missing. As an adult, he recalls the time they spent together in their apartment in Buenos Aires, their trips to the movies, and the rare moments she’d allow him to have sweets. Through his narrator, López reveals the emotional devastation that comes from a lack of closure, while showcasing a beautiful and unforgettable bond between mother and child.

Artemis

We don’t need to tell you or your book club about Andy Weir. As the author of the mega-hit The Martian, his reputation precedes him. His new novel takes readers to the moon in the near future, where a city called Artemis has been built. Jazz Bashara is living there, and keeps herself afloat financially with a mix of porter work and smuggling. But then, a job goes sideways, and lands her in the middle of a broader plot she never imagined. We bet your book club will find this story to be out of this world.

Now Is Everything

Amy Giles’ affecting young adult novel is split into two narratives: then and now. The present day chapters introduce readers to 17-year-old Hadley McCauley, the sole survivor of a plane crash. While recovering in the hospital, Hadley attempts suicide and is placed under supervision. Chapters set in the past reveal that Hadley’s spent most of her life hiding the effects of her father’s abuse and placing herself in his path to protect her younger sister Lila. But when Hadley falls in love and breaks her father’s strict no-dating rule, he decides to punish her by hurting Lila. This is a heartbreaking and sensitively told story that readers won’t soon forget.

The Art of Misdiagnosis

Gayle Brandeis’ life turned upside down shortly after the birth of her youngest. First, no one could find her mother. Then, her body was found; she had hanged herself. This would be a traumatic discovery for anyone, let alone for a mother with a young child. In this memoir, Brandeis grapples with the loss and what she did and didn’t know about her mother’s inner life and mental state. In a starred review, Kirkus raved that this book is: “A uniquely graceful, gorgeously written and composed collage of grief, misunderstanding, love, and an attempt at familiar closure through art and prose.”

Freya

The year is 1945 and the streets of London are filled with citizens celebrating VE Day. It’s there that 20-year-old Freya Wyley and 18-year-old Nancy Holdaway first meet and strike up a friendship that will last a lifetime. The two initially bond over their shared love of writing: Freya dreams of a career in journalism, while Nancy hopes to publish a novel one day. The novel follows the women through their years at Oxford and then into the professional world where they’re forced to break through sexist and homophobic barriers if they hope to succeed. Book clubs will find a lot to unpack about friendship, romance, and sexism in this novel.

The Shadow District

Travel to Reykjavik in this tense thriller from author Arnaldur Indridason. A crime committed in the city during World War II comes back to haunt a present-day retired detective named Konrad, who realizes the old case might be connected to a recent death in Reykjavik. The connection? Some newspaper clippings found in the home of the deceased. Konrad will work tirelessly to determine what happened all of those years ago, and make some shocking discoveries along the way. For book clubs that love suspenseful narratives that follow multiple timelines with some historical flair, look no further.

The Big Lie

Julie Mayhew’s dystopian tale made major waves when it was first published in England, earning nominations for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Shropshire Teenage Book of the Year, and the Hounslow Teen Read of 2017. This alternate history takes readers to a modern England ruled by the Third Reich. Seventeen-year-old Jessika Keller prides herself on being a perfect daughter and citizen, but all of that changes when she meets her new neighbor Clementine. Clem is bold, rebellious, and Jess might be falling in love her with. As Jess begins to question everything she’s been told to believe, Clem’s actions start to get noticed by the government and could put them both in danger. With starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, this gripping read is sure to be as widely discussed in the states as it was in the UK.

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