Your book club has done it all. You gasped at the twist in Gone Girl, cried through The Fault in Our Stars, and took an incredible journey with Cheryl Strayed in Wild. How do you top these classics? Well, we have a few ideas for you. Paired with some of your book club favorites, here are ten titles you’ll want to pick up next.
We know, we know, just about every gripping thriller that hits shelves is called “the next Gone Girl” and you’re tired of it. Truth be told, there never will be another Gone Girl, which is why we’re giving you a recommendation that firmly stands on its own feet, er, pages. Our editor is a bit obsessed with the Dublin Murder Squad series, so you may have heard of Tana French from us before. The Secret Place splits its focus between two timelines that converge at the end. The first takes place when a cold case detective is called back to an all-girl’s school to investigate a murder. The second takes place before the crime, allowing the readers to slowly piece together the puzzle. Don’t go in expecting Amazing Amy; instead enter this looking forward to a tale of secrets, betrayal, and psychological profiling. Keep in mind that the novels in this series don’t need to be read in order, but we guarantee that once you read one, you’ll want to read them all.
Does your book club love tales that pair a good spiritual journey with a nice, long, literal journey? Then look no further. For lovers of Wild, we think The Fish Ladder is a sure crowd-pleaser. Katharine Norbury, like Cheryl Strayed, hits hard times: But instead of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Norbury decides to walk the entire length of a river, all the way to its source. There are few things as cathartic as reading about an author’s journey to understanding and accepting a devastating loss, and these books both deliver. (Bonus pick: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a book lover must be in want of a book about books. Jane Austen Book Club told the story of a small community of readers brought together by their mutual love of the written word. Katarina Bivald’s novel doesn’t focus on Miss Austen, but it does feature a sleepy town turned upside down when a Swedish bookseller finds herself stranded there. Sara originally came to Iowa to visit her pen pal, Amy, but upon her arrival she learns that Amy died. Rather than flying home, she stays at Amy’s home and uses Amy’s old library to turn an abandoned hardware store into a local bookstore. There’s romance, small town hospitality, and lots of wonderful literary references.
Rebecca Skloot took the world by storm with her tale of HeLa genes and their vital role in medical research over the decades since Lacks herself died. Ethical questions trouble Skloot’s narrative, much in the same way that they haunt Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink. Fink’s book will likely engross fans of Skloot’s, with its harrowing tale of what happened at a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. We won’t spoil things, but suffice it to say that some patient care went seriously awry. If your club likes tackling big issues, these books are both sure winners.
In Markus Zusak’s unforgettable novel The Book Thief, young Liesel Meminger found solace in books during Hitler’s harrowing reign. Author Ruta Sepetys set her novel, Between Shades of Gray, at the same point in history, though her focus is on the deportation of Lithuanians. On Joseph Stalin’s orders, 15-year-old Lina and her family are rounded up with other Lithuanians and taken to a forced labor camp. Lina is with her mother and brother, though they’re separated from her father. In the face of the bitter cold and grueling labor, Lina keeps her hope alive through her art. She even attempts to get messages to her father’s camp through her drawings. The unspeakable events of Stalin’s reign are not widely taught and are underrepresented in young adult literature, making this an important and impactful read.
If your book club hopped on the Jhumpa Lahiri bandwagon—and let’s be real, why would you not jump on the Jhumpa Lahiri bandwagon—then Americanah should be your next read. Like The Namesake, Americanah concerns itself with what it’s like to find yourself in a new culture. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes grippingly about a young couple that leaves Nigeria together only to land in America and London, respectively. These experiences will change them forever, and also alter the way they see Nigeria. Both books touch on the complexities of the immigrant experience in America, and ask the reader to consider what it means to belong somewhere.
So you’ve already read The Devil in the White City, and you’re looking for something similar. Well, Death in the City of Light checks a lot of the same boxes: Engaging nonfiction read? Check. Serial killer in a world-famous city? Check. Set during an important moment in history? Check. Under Nazi-occupation, Paris, France was already living in terror before body parts began turning up around the city. Could a charming doctor be the culprit? Was he involved with the Nazis or acting of his own accord? This book chronicles the years that the murderer was on the run, the 27 people that he killed, and the trial where some found themselves desensitized to the horrors he inflicted after the events of the Holocaust. This is a must-read for true crime loving book clubs, and you’re sure to have fascinating discussions about the killer’s true motives and how the Nazi occupation affected how the people of Paris viewed the case.
If family dynamics and coping with serious illness are topics your club enjoys mulling over, we’ve got you covered. What would you do to help your brother or sister if he or she were ill, and how far would you go to help him or her lead a normal life? These questions swirl through both Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb, and will prompt thought-provoking conversations among the members of your club.
Get the tissues ready. We sobbed through John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and we bet your book club did too. If you’re ready to have your heart strings pulled on yet again, you’ll want to pick up Jennifer Niven’s debut young adult novel, All the Bright Places. Eccentric and adventurous Finch will remind you of why you fell for Augustus’ charms, and you’ll see Hazel’s strength and emotional depth in the character of Violet, who is struggling to adjust after her sister’s death. The novel explores themes of grief, mental illness, suicide, and first love. The book club discussion after this title is likely to be sad, thoughtful, and ultimately uplifting.
Few memoirs are as vibrant and memorable as The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Odds are, if you haven’t been living under a rock, your club has already spent an evening discussing Walls’ compelling narrative style and her unusual childhood. But if you’re clamoring for more, your club should consider The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. Karr is witty and sharp as she describes her own upbringing in an oil town in Texas, where her alcoholic father and unpredictable mother made her home life anything but normal. (Bonus pick: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.)