Look no further for your September book club pick. We’ve rounded up six of this month’s must-read novels. Whether your group wants to visit a dystopian future or a fictionalized version of the past, we’ve got a book that is sure to keep you talking.
Want even more book club recommendations? Check out our Fall Previews for a look at the best books of the season.
Admit it: You’ve been dying to get your hands on a copy of Margaret Atwood’s long-awaited novel The Testaments. The Bookish editors are right there with you. Why not share this highly anticipated reading experience with a group of your friends? In The Testaments, readers meet three women living in Gilead 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale: Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia. This book is perfect for clubs that love talking about gender, society, and politics. You and your friends will find endless things to discuss in Atwood’s latest. Bonus points if your club decides to read and tackle The Handmaid’s Tale in the same meeting!
Halloween is around the corner, and book clubs searching for some early thrills and chills should pick up Stephen King’s latest. Luke falls asleep in his Minnesota neighborhood and wakes up at the Institute, where children are observed and studied to test their telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Luke is promised that after a test and a visit to the mysterious Back Half he’ll be returned home, but he doesn’t believe it. Instead, he decides to do the impossible: escape from the Institute. Book clubs who are planning group screenings of It Chapter 2 won’t want to miss the newest release from the reigning King of horror.
Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah
Scottish doctor David Livingstone was a real historical figure who was fixated on the workings of the Nile River. He traveled to Africa to study it, and eventually died in what is now Zambia in 1873 due to a case of malaria. But this isn’t Livingstone’s story. Petina Gappah’s new novel introduces readers to the black men and women who transported his body 1500 miles so that he could be buried in England. These men and women are the protagonists of Gappah’s novel, and their journey to Zanzibar with the body forms the narrative backbone of this novel. For readers interested in historical fiction that highlights figures whose stories are often not told, Out of Darkness, Shining Light is a great book to pick up this fall.
Book clubs looking to dive into a work of historical fiction this month will want to check out this new release from National Book Award winner Thanhhà Lại. Butterfly Yellow follows 18-year-old Hằng, a Vietnamese refugee searching for her lost brother Linh. The only clue Hằng has is a Texas address, and once she arrives in America she sets out for Amarillo in hopes of discovering her brother there. Along the way, she crosses paths with LeeRoy, an 18-year-old from Austin who dreams of being a rodeo star. LeeRoy helps Hằng to find Linh, but when the two reunite, Linh has no memory of his sister or their life in Vietnam. A heartbroken Hằng must find a way to connect with him, while grappling with the lingering guilt of their separation. We predict this YA novel will inspire your group to talk about the impact of war on children and the lengths Hằng’s willing to go for her family.
Rain Winter had a traumatic experience at the age of 12 when two of her closest friends were kidnapped and one was killed. She’s had to carry the memory of that incident with her for years since, and she’s managed to put together a happy, secure adult life working as a journalist and caring for her young daughter. Her world is rocked, however, when a new murder makes the headlines. The victim is, in fact, a killer she wrote about before stepping back from her career to spend more time with her child, and the violent act looks like a revenge crime. Rain is immediately plunged back into the memory of her own trauma, and becomes highly invested in learning more about the killer. If your book club has a taste for revenge, look no further than The Stranger Inside.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi’s YA debut is sure to captivate readers. Jam, a transgender teen, lives in Lucille, a town that banished monsters so that its citizens can live in harmony–at least, that’s what people think. One day, Jam ventures into her mother’s painting studio and discovers a creature called Pet rising off of a canvas to take physical form. Pet claims to be in Lucille to fight a monster. Jam agrees to help Pet, along the way discovering that monsters can take many forms. Book clubs looking to discuss the possibility of worlds without evil and the dangers of not teaching children how to spot it will find a lot to discuss here.