Best Book Club Picks for October 2017: Electricity, Paris, and Hurricane Katrina

Best Book Club Picks for October 2017: Electricity, Paris, and Hurricane Katrina

Fall is, arguably, the perfect time of year for book clubs. It’s chilly outside in the evening, which means gathering inside by the fire, preferably with a glass of wine and a book,  is the natural thing to do. If you’re joined by friends, so much the better. If you’re with us (and we think you are), we’ve got the perfect picks for your book club’s October meeting.  Whether your club wants to travel to Paris, learn more about Amy Tan, or explore outer space, there’s a book here for every reader. 

For more excellent picks, check out our Fall Previews!

Where the Past Begins

Amy Tan needs no introduction (and if your book club hasn’t picked up any of her novels, we highly recommend you check those out, too). Here, Tan opens up to readers about her own life and personal history. Tan herself had a difficult childhood and a complicated relationship with both of her parents. Memories and secrets swirl in this engrossing volume, and readers just might forget that this is a work of nonfiction. This memoir is worth a read on its own merits, but we bet it will be particularly satisfying for clubs that have recently enjoyed The Joy Luck Club or another one of Tan’s novels.

Seven Days of Us

If your book club is craving some seasonal family drama, Francesca Hornak’s novel is sure to please. The holidays are the perfect time for families to gather together, but can the Birch family survive seven days in quarantine? Emma and Andrew’s daughter Olivia is home for Christmas after spending time in Liberia treating patients of the Haag epidemic. To prevent the spreading of this deadly virus, Olivia is quarantined and so is her family. Before long, nerves are tested and all sorts of long-kept secrets are spilling out.

The Floating World

Thus far, 2017 has had an extraordinarily active and destructive hurricane season, which makes this novel from C. Morgan Babst a timely read for your book club. The Floating World tells the story of the Boisdoré family during and after Hurricane Katrina. Readers will meet the five Boisodorés and watch in horror as Katrina rips their lives apart, leaving Cora Boisdoré unwilling or unable to speak about what she has witnessed. In a starred review, Kirkus raved that this novel is: “Deeply felt and beautifully written; a major addition to the literature of Katrina.”

Dear Martin

Seventeen-year-old Justyce McAllister is trying to stop his drunk ex-girlfriend from driving herself home when he’s racially profiled and handcuffed by the police. It doesn’t matter that he was trying to do the right thing or that he’s at the top of his class and headed for an Ivy League education; it just mattered that he was black. Justyce begins writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr. in a journal, hoping that it’ll help him find some answers. Then he finds he needs guidance more than ever when his best friend is shot by an off-duty police officer. Nic Stone’s debut novel will lead to tough but necessary conversations about the prevalence of racism in modern America and the fatal effects it has on black boys and men.

The Power

In Naomi Alderman’s new novel, teenage girls have a mysterious power: They can generate electricity to shock, injure, and even kill others. Before long, older women are able to do the same thing. This, of course, has a profound impact on society. Questions arise about whether men and boys need to be protected from women who have the power, and whether women should be able to hold powerful jobs where they might use the power on their subordinates. Violence ensues. Book clubs interested in gender and politics will be especially fascinated by this novel.

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Dita is only fourteen when she’s taken from the Terezín ghetto in Prague and moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau with her parents. There she meets Freddy Hirsch, a Jewish leader who secretly runs a school for the children in the camp. Sensing her passion for literature, Fredy entrusts Dita with the keeping of eight books that have been smuggled into the camp. This work of historical fiction was inspired by author Antonio Iturbe’s interviews with Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus. This is a heartbreaking but important story that will encourage readers to head to their own librarian to find out more about the real men and women Iturbe features here.

Paris in the Present Tense

Travel to the City of Love in this engaging new novel from Mark Helprin. Readers will meet Jules Lacour, an aging cellist coping with his newfound solitude after the death of Jacqueline, his wife. To make matters worse, his grandson is battling leukemia. Jules must make peace with his past (including an absolutely devastating memory from World War II regarding the murder of his entire immediate family) and decide how to move into his future under his new and difficult circumstances. Along the way Jules just might fall in love in the most romantic city in the world.

An Unkindness of Ghosts

In this debut, Rivers Solomon transports readers to a spaceship bound for a new world but very much trapped in the past. When the Earth began to die, humans decided to flee. It’s been over 300 years since the original group boarded the HSS Matilda, and in that time a white-supremacist cult known as the Sovereignty has seized power. Aster Grey was born on the ship and into slavery, but a new discovery leads her to believe that she might be able to break free. In a starred review Publishers Weekly raved “Solomon debuts with a raw distillation of slavery, feudalism, prison, and religion… The overall achievement… is stunning.”


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