January Book Club Picks: Schizophrenia, Refugees, and Tropical Storm Irene

January Book Club Picks: Schizophrenia, Refugees, and Tropical Storm Irene

Book Club Picks: January 2018

Is one of your 2018 resolutions to keep reading and discussing awesome books with your book club? Well, you’re in luck. 2018 is off to a great start in terms of thought-provoking new releases for your book club to dive into. We’ve rounded up some of our top contenders. No matter what your book club likes to read, we’ve got your January meeting covered. Just add wine and snacks!

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Penelope Grand is moving home to Brooklyn under less-than-ideal circumstances. Her work hasn’t been going as planned, and her father is not well. When she returns, she is amazed to see how different her home is from when she left it. The neighborhood has changed, and the people who live there are different, too, thanks to gentrification. She makes the move anyway, and then hears from her mother, Mirella, who deserted Penelope and moved to the Dominican Republic. This story explores the complexities of the mother-daughter bond, and will keep your book club chatting long into the night.

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Samira Ahmed’s timely novel introduces readers to Maya Aziz, an Indian American teenager who dreams of studying filmmaking at NYU. Her immigrant parents, however, have other plans. They want her to stay put until she finds a nice Muslim boy to marry. As an only child, Maya fears disappointing her parents, but her troubles take a backseat when a terrorist attack strikes close to home and the suspect shares her family’s last name. This is a must-read winter release, and one that will encourage discussions about the presence and danger of Islamophobia in modern America.

A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise by Sandra Allen

If your book club is interested in discussing a true story about mental illness, Sandra Allen’s A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise is the perfect volume to pick up this month. Allen writes about her uncle Bob and his struggle with schizophrenia. In 2009, Bob sent Allen an autobiography he had written about his experience with mental illness and asked for her help in spreading his story. Allen has done just that in A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise. In a glowing review, Kirkus wrote that this is “A glimpse of how schizophrenia looks and feels from the inside.”

Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

Is your book club craving a suspenseful thriller? Maybe with a side of romance? K.A. Tucker has you covered. Twenty years ago, Jackie Marshall and Abe Wilkes were partners on Austin’s police force. When Abe was killed in a drug bust and labeled a dirty cop, his family fled, while Jackie went on to become chief of police. All these years Jackie’s been keeping a secret about the night Abe died. When she kills herself it seems as though she may take it to her grave. But her son Noah is determined to uncover the truth. He hunts down Gracie Richards, Abe’s daughter, and the two begin to investigate, unknowingly putting their own lives in danger.

Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur

Vale is working as a bartender in New Orleans, and hasn’t had any contact with her mother, Bonnie, in years. Bonnie lives in Vermont, but goes missing during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. When Bonnie gets this news, she immediately heads north to try to find her. Readers are then plunged into the life stories of three different women in Vale’s family, each of whom are struggling in their own way. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote: “The resulting narrative is nuanced, poetic, and evocative; [Robin] MacArthur empathetically depicts each of her characters in their wounded but hopeful glory.”

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

Bookish readers may recognize this recommendation from our young adult winter preview. This affecting novel, written by award-winning journalist Atia Abawi, takes readers to war-torn Syria. When a bomb strikes his hometown, Tareq loses his mother and siblings. He knows that if he, his father, and four-year-old sister have any hope of surviving, they must leave their home. Together they begin to journey to Germany. They are three of the many risking their lives and facing incomprehensible dangers in the hopes of finding shelter. This is a difficult read, but an incredibly important one that will inspire book clubs to find way to help refugees in whatever ways they can.

The Unmade World by Steve Yarbrough

One night in 2006, there was a car accident outside of Krakow, Poland. At least in the world of Steve Yarbrough’s novel there was. The weather was snowy and treacherous, and the accident claimed two lives: the daughter and wife of a journalist named Richard Brennan. Richard is completely devastated by the loss. Bogdan Baranowski, the man who was driving the other car, will also have to deal with the memory of that night. The story follows the lives of both Bogdan and Richard for the years following the accident, giving readers a thought-provoking tale about how lives can hinge on pivotal events and moments. There’s lots of material for discussion here; we predict you’ll be up way past your bedtime.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

Nathan lives deep in the Valley of the Rocks. Humanity has been dying out since a disease killed the planet’s women, and Nate is part of a small society of men, the last humans on Earth. He’s the resident storyteller, and the others frequently ask him to regale them with tales from the past. But one night he comes to the fire with startling news: Strange mushrooms are growing out of the women’s graves. Aliya Whiteley’s blend of horror, sci fi, and literary fiction is sure to please book clubs who appreciate genre blending. It will inspire discussions about beauty, gender roles, and the future.


  1. A Land of Permanent Goodbyes is my next read, I really can’t wait. I am currently finishing up Fengxian Chu’s Song of Praise for a Flower. It’s her memoir on her life in China. Not everyday China, but a rural area that is in constant turmoil. Not an easy life at all which is what maker her story so inspirational. A great read!

Leave a Reply