Best Book Club Picks for March 2017: Civil War Spies, a Space Opera, and More

Best Book Club Picks for March 2017: Civil War Spies, a Space Opera, and More

Is your book club scrambling for a March read? We’ve got you covered! Here, we’ve pulled the best book club picks coming out this month. Whether you’re in the mood for some nonfiction about men and women who were wrongfully convicted, or would prefer to lose yourself in a historical novel about Civil War spies, we have the book to get your club chatting. For more excellent picks, check out our Spring Previews!

Exit West

Civil war is a looming possibility from the very start of Mohsin Hamid’s new novel, Exit West. But that doesn’t keep Nadia and Saeed from falling in love. These two young adults have deep feelings for one another, but they are also aware of their increasingly violent surroundings. An opportunity arises for them to leave the country, and they do. But they have no idea what is waiting for them on the other side. In a starred review, Kirkus raved that Exit West is “One of the most bittersweet love stories in modern memory and a book to savor even while despairing of its truths.”


An Extraordinary Union

Both romance and historical fiction fans will want to get their hands on this new release. Set during the Civil War, this novel follows Elle Burns as she risks her life posing as slave while spying for the Union Army. She’s in enemy territory, but she does have on ally: Malcolm McCall, a Scottish member of the Allan Pinkerton’s secret service who is undercover as a Confederate soldier. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly says that author Alyssa Cole “hits all the right notes in this smartly written espionage romance brimming with vivid characterization, heartfelt dialogue, and sensual sweetness.”

The River of Kings

Travel down Georgia’s Altamaha River with two brothers, Hunter and Lawton, in this new novel from Taylor Brown. Their mission isn’t an altogether happy one: The brothers’ father has died, and their trek is driven by the desire to scatter his ashes. Along the way, readers learn more about the father’s life, and about the people who first lived close to the river. Water and family prove to be two strong uniting forces in this narrative. By the end, you just might find yourself daydreaming about setting out on a journey in your own kayak.

The Best We Could Do

Is your book club in the mood for a graphic novel? Look no further. Thi Bui’s debut explores themes of identity, belonging, and family in a poignant and unforgettable way. Bui traces her own family’s history, taking readers to Vietnam and showing her family’s escape from the war. They journeyed to America to find safety, but assimilating to a new culture presented its own unique sets of challenges. When Bui becomes a parent herself, she realizes the different ways that her parents made sacrifices so that she could have a better life.


Anatomy of Innocence

We are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But what about people who are wrongfully convicted? In this new book from Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger, readers will read the testimonies of 15 individuals who suffered exactly that fate. These men and women each have a chapter dedicated to their story, which is rendered on the page by mystery and thriller writers like Lee Child and Jan Burke. Readers will ache at the suffering of the exonerees, and will emerge with a fuller understanding of the blind spots and flaws in this country’s justice system.


Girl in Disguise

It’s 1856 and the United States it at war with itself. Kate Warne is desperate for a job and a way to help her country. She persuades Allan Pinkerton to sign her as the first female detective in his agency by listing the ways that her gender can get her into places his other detectives can’t. Sure enough, she takes to undercover work like a fish to water. As she grows her skill set, the danger around her increases and soon she’s leaving Chicago to stop an assassination attempt on President Lincoln. Greer Macallister’s clever heroine is inspired by the U.S.’s first female detective, and your book club will want to know more about her incredible life when you finish this novel.

The Night Ocean

This literary mystery is definitely one of the buzziest books of the season. In it, one man’s mysterious disappearance leads his wife down a rabbit hole. Did the man, Charlie, kill himself? His wife, who is an experienced psychiatrist, is highly skeptical. Author Paul La Farge also weaves in a plotline about H. P. Lovecraft and a summer he spent with a fan named Robert Barlow. What happened that summer? This book is sure to appeal to a wide array of readers: literary fiction fans, mystery lovers, and those who are curious about H. P. Lovecraft.

The Wanderers

Prime Space is preparing to send a highly-trained crew of humans to Mars. This is the first time that humans will land on the red planet, and the program requires the team to spend 17 months in Eidolon, a simulation that is meant to prepare them for the physical challenges of space and the emotional strain that leaving their loved ones will put them through. Author Meg Howrey gives readers insight into the lives of three crew members who hope to survive the training and make it to Mars: Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov. Their inner monologues about family, life, death, and desire will leave your club with a lot to talk about.

Elizabeth Rowe
Elizabeth is a graduate of Columbia University's MFA program in Nonfiction Writing. She is based in San Francisco and can frequently be found at Philz with her nose in a book. Her current obsession is the My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and she thoroughly embarrassed herself when she met him shortly after the release of volume four (and she has the photos to prove it).


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