October Book Club Picks: Missing Girls, Apparitions, and Gothic Horror

October Book Club Picks: Missing Girls, Apparitions, and Gothic Horror

October is finally here, and that means it’s time for another book club meeting. In the spirit of Halloween, we’re recommending a few chilling read this month—as well as some non-spooky buzzy new titles that readers won’t want to miss. Get the pumpkin beer chilling and stock up on candy—your club is in for a fantastic month of reading.

For even more fabulous fall reads, check out our fall must-read roundup.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Beloved bestselling author Jodi Picoult is back with a new novel that will keep your book club talking for hours. A Spark of Light is told in reverse chronological order, and takes place at an abortion clinic in Mississippi on the day that a shooter attacks the facility. At the clinic, readers will meet a hostage negotiator whose teenage daughter is stuck inside, an anti-abortion activist who is gathering information, and a woman who plans to terminate a pregnancy, among others. These storylines converge on the day of the attack, and readers will be riveted as they learn more about what brought each character to the clinic and how their lives will be changed by the gunman’s actions.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Book clubs looking for a chilling read won’t want to miss out on Sawkill Girls. Sixteen-year-old Marion Althouse moves to the island of Sawkill Rock with her mother and sister after the death of her father, and tragedy strikes again when her sister Charlotte goes missing. Marion learns that 23 girls have disappeared from the island in the last century, and she joins forces with her new friend Zoey and her crush Val to try to find Charlotte and uncover where the other girls went. Along the way, Marion hears a local legend about a beast known as the Collector, and she begins to wonder if it may be responsible. In a starred review Booklist called this book “Strange, eerie, and unforgettable,” and we know your club will agree.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

For book clubs who devoured The Essex Serpent, this is your lucky month. Sarah Perry is back with a new gothic novel about a creature named Melmoth the Witness who wanders through space and time. She knows what everyone has done wrong and what they are ashamed of, and she preys on people who have committed particularly terrible misdeeds. Melmoth introduces readers to a cast of characters living in various locations and eras, all of whom will encounter Melmoth in some way. This book tackles history, politics, guilt, and loneliness in compelling ways that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

If your book club swooned over Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date, they’ll love The Proposal. After a mere five months of dating, the very last thing Nikole Paterson expects from her actor boyfriend is a date to the Dodgers game that ends in a massive public proposal on the scoreboard. Shocked and embarrassed, Nikole is pinned to the spot while cameras capture every moment—until a handsome stranger by the name of Carlos Ibarra steps in to help her escape. Carlos takes Nikole to a bar to have a drink and hide from the crowds, and soon sparks are flying. The Proposal is one of our must-read books of the season, and we know it’ll be a home run for your book club. Prepare for conversations about love, relationships, and everyone’s idea of the best and worst ways to propose.

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald

Casey Gerald, the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, has a TED Talk on doubt, co-founded the organization MBAs Across America, and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His memoir takes readers from the poor neighborhood of Dallas where Gerald was raised to the halls of Yale and Harvard Business School. Gerald’s struggles and ultimate triumphs will leave readers inspired and with much to ponder about success, social mobility, and identity. For book clubs that love discussing fascinating life stories and the American Dream, this is the perfect book to pick up this month.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi’s latest young adult novel draws from her own experiences as a breakdancer and growing up as a Muslim teenager in a post-9/11 America. Sixteen-year-old Shirin lives for the moments when she’s dancing with her brother and letting the music drown out the rest of the world. These are the times she can forget the hate spewed at her over the color of her skin or the hijab that she wears. When she isn’t dancing, Shirin puts up walls to protect herself from hurtful and ignorant comments. But when she meets Ocean James and he seems genuinely interested in getting to know her, Shirin worries that letting her guard down could mean getting hurt. This buzzy release is certain to prompt insightful conversations about Islamophobia, intolerance, and prejudice in America’s past and present.

White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar

If your book club is interested in picking up a book of short stories this month, we suggest White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar. Racial identity plays a large role in these stories, as does socioeconomic class, meaning your book club will have lots of thought-provoking material to discuss. In one story, a therapist experiences conflicted feelings about one of her clients, an Indian woman, and grapples with that. In another, a woman sleeps with the husband of her dying best friend, and becomes pregnant with his child. These tales span the globe from India to Portugal, and feature characters from many different walks of life interacting with one another. The result is an engaging collection we know you’ll enjoy.

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

If your book club is looking for an eerie tale this October, we’d recommend getting lost in this gothic novel. After the death of their daughter, Charles and Erin Hayden decide to move to England to live in Hollow House, a manor that Erin inherited from Caedmon Hollow, the author of a book called In the Night Wood. Once there, Erin’s depression begins to take over her every day, while Charles spends his time researching the home’s former owner with the help a historian whose daughter bears an unsettling resemblance to his own late daughter. Add in a strange tale about a child who was sacrificed to a king and the apparition of the Haydens’ daughter in the wood surrounding the house, and you’ve got a tale that will keep your club up late into the night.

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