101 Book Group Choices Guaranteed to Provoke Discussion

The BookDepository

Choosing a book for a reading group is hard, but I’ve compiled this list of books to help you make that difficult decision. I think the majority of people will enjoy them and, more importantly for any book group, they will create an interesting discussion. This list is a combination of books I’ve read and those that have worked well for other book groups in the past. I hope you find it useful!

My Personal Favourites

Out – Natsuo Kirino
The Ghosts of Eden – Andrew Sharp
The Other Hand – Chris Cleave
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey
Random Acts of Heroic Love – Danny Scheinmann
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Strain – Guillermo del Toro
Little Face – Sophie Hannah
Ingenious Pain – Andrew Miller

Award Winners

Disgrace – J.M Coetzee
The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
The Secret River – Kate Grenville
Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
The Bone People – Keri Hulme
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Dwarf – Par Lagerkvist
Blindness – Jose Saramago
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
The Good Earth – Pearl Buck
Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
The Fifth Child – Doris Lessing

Long, but Worth It

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
Stone’s Fall – Iain Pears
Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald
Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean Auel
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver

Books You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

The Myth of You and Me – Leah Stewart
Snow in August – Peter Hamill
Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire – David Mura
The Blind Side of the Heart – Julia Franck
Under This Unbroken Sky – Shandi Mitchell
The Ginger Tree – Oswald Wynd
The Glass Key – Dashiell Hammett
Stolen Lives – Malika Oufkir
Right of Thirst – Frank Huylar
Touching the Void – Joe Simpson
Cane River – Lailita Tademy
Gap Creek – Robert Morgan
Loving Frank – Nancy Horan

Recent Releases

Ruby’s Spoon – Anna Lawrence Pietroni
Rupture – Simon Lelic
Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan
The Rapture – Liz Jensen
Legend of a Suicide – David Vann
The Girl with Glass Feet – Ali Shaw
The Island at the End of the World – Sam Taylor
The City & The City – China Mieville
Generation A – Douglas Coupland
Pocket Notebook – Mike Thomas
The Infinities – John Banville
The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa
Still Alice – Lisa Genova
The Vagrants – Yiyun Li
The Chosen One – Carol Lynch Williams
Rooftops of Tehran – Mahbod Seraji

The Calligrapher’s Daughter – Eugenia Kim
The Unit – Ninni Holmqvist

The Best of the Rest

Eating Air – Pauline Melville
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba
Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
The World According to Garp – John Irving
Unless – Carol Shields
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
The Seance – John Harwood
Mudbound – Hilary Jordan
The Blood of Flowers – Anita Amirrezvani
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher – Kate Summerscale
The Behaviour of Moths – Poppy Adams
Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks
The End of Mr. Y – Scarlett Thomas
The Devil in the White City – Eric Larson
Uglies – Scott Westerfield
Resistance – Anita Shreve
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
The Woman in the Dunes – Kobo Abe
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
Sacred Hearts – Sarah Dunant
Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
Q and A – Vikas Swarup
Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
Persepolis – Majane Satrapi
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson
The Visit of the Royal Physician – Per Olov Enquist
The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite – Beatrice Colin
The Glass Room – Simon Mawer
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell

Which books have worked well at your book group?

Have any of the books in the above list failed to charm your book group?

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  1. Stujallen says:

    oh a complete list there jackie ,david vann would make a good choice ,thought provoking,anne tyler currently reading would seem good for a book group ,once and then morris gleitzmann also a great book

    1. Jackie says:

      Stujallen, I haven’t read Once and Then yet, but have heard good things about it – I hope to read it soon.

  2. Amanda says:

    There are a lot of good choices on here, some that make me wish I was picking modern books for my club! I’ve been running a classics book club for a little over 3 years now and we’ve had some great successes. Some of our best discussions have come from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Bell Jar, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Jungle, 1984, Native Son, Silas Marner, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Grapes of Wrath, The Awakening, The Good Earth, Cry the Beloved Country, and The Painted Veil. Okay that was a much longer list than I expected…

    1. Jackie says:

      Amanda, Our book club had great discussions about 1984 and The Bell Jar too. I have heard wonderful things about most of the other ones you mention – great choices!

  3. That looks like an awesome list. There are so many titles that I’ve not yet read, but fully intend to. And I always love books that invite discussions. =)

    1. Jackie says:

      Michelle, I found lots of books that I want to add to my wishlist whilst researching this list – I think books that are good for book groups are likely to be the most enjoyable reads too.

  4. diane says:

    awesome list.I am saving this one for future reference. Some great titles there; thanks

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, I hope you find some great reads from it!

  5. Nicole says:

    Great reference list. It makes me so happy to kno that I not only have heard of, but either have or have read at least 5 books on your books never heard of list. I can’t wait to read Loving Frank. Only I must wait. Boo.

    1. Jackie says:

      Nicole, LOL! I think that must be the difference between books in the UK and the US. I put them in that list as I’d not heard of them before. You’d probably put a selection of books that I know and love in your list of unheard of books.

  6. Wow! Must’ve taken a lot of effort putting this together. I’ve never actually been in a bookgroup, so can’t really add much input from my “experience” (lack thereof).

    However, I am reading Middlesex next month which I’m very excited about.

    I also don’t think I’d want to do The Other Hand in a book group as that book still makes me really angry (maybe I need to go in for some kind of therapy).

    I can imagine Out, Disgrace, Reluctant Fundamentalist, We Need To Talk About Kevin and Cloud Atlas being good choices. 1984, methinks, is a given. A default choice, if you like.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, Middlesex is a fantastic book, with so much to discuss. I hope you enjoy reading it.

      Perhaps The Other Hand would be a great book for you to discuss – I’m sure most of the group would love it, so you could have an interesting talk about why it makes you angry, whilst the others might explain why they love it?

  7. Lahni says:

    My book club is reading Still Alice next month. I’m so excited. I’ve read several of those books for a previous book club, but I’m pretty sure some of them won’t work for my current club. Some of the women are very careful about not reading books with language, violence or anything sexual which limits our choices a lot sometimes.
    Thanks for this great list! I plan on bookmarking it and returning often!

    1. Jackie says:

      Lahni, You make a good point – all book groups are different. Some dislike violence, some can’t cope with more complex books, some don’t like simple ones. I’m sure that there are a lot of books suitable for all in the list, but you do need to check the book will be suitable for your club first.

  8. Jenners says:

    Great list!!! I’ve read quite a few and have many more on my TBR list. And I suspect I’ll be working my way through all of them at some point.

    Now I just need to find a book club to join!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, If ou can’t find one, start your own! Good luck!

  9. Julie says:

    Wow! What a list! I’ve actually read two of the Probably Never Heard of ones! I’ve read a bunch of the books listed and pretty much loved them all and think they are great choices for a book club. Thanks for compiling this list! I will have to bookmark it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Julie, I’m so pleased to know that you enjoyed all the books you’ve read from the list. I did try to pick good ones. Congratulations on reading 2 of the ones I haven’t heard of – you must be very well read!!

  10. Pam says:

    This is a massive and relevant list. Thank you!

  11. Mome Rath says:

    I was looking forward to this post once you mentioned it yesterday. In answer to your first question, when I was in a world literature/international author book club, some of the more memorable discussions we had were from My Name is Red (Pamuk), The Famished Road (Okri), The House of the Spirits (Allende), The Leopard (di Lampedusa), The Palace of Dreams (Kadare), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Rushdie), The Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), and Kafka on the Shore (Murakami). Of course, it could be that the international dinners we made/had for the meetings made the discussions more memorable, too.
    This is a great resource, and I’m glad to see one of my favorite non-fiction books on the list (Larson’s The Devil in the White City).

    1. Jackie says:

      Mome Rath, You have a great list of books there! I avoided picking books like that, as I think most people would struggle with those. I have read most of the ones you mention, but they do require a lot of time and effort to understand – that makes them perfect for discussion, but it would have to be a literary book group, rather than simply a reading group. I would have particulary liked to discuss The Famished Road – so much of that African mysticism went over my head. Perhaps I need to create another list for literary book groups!

  12. Sarah Prior says:

    Brilliant list, thanks for putting it together Jackie – I’m going to tweet this to our followers and post it on the site if that’s ok – I know they’ll find it really useful as I did. Of the lesser known ones, I really enjoyed Touching the Void – cracking read. Notes on a Scandal is definitely a personal favourite of mine too, and I’m just about to start The Other Hand (once my mum gives it back to me!) Also really looking forward to reading your review of Brixton Beach. Thanks again for taking the time to put this list together – I think it will be one I refer back to a great deal!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sarah, I’m pleased that you like it so much!

      I’d love you to tweet it and a link from your site would be great too!

      Enjoy The Other Hand!

  13. Sandy says:

    I know I am a little late to the party here…I’ve been in the weeds. But I am so glad I scrolled back! This list is awesome! This must have been alot of work. I am seriously going to print this out and carry it with me and possibly even distribute it to my book group. They seem to flounder at times to pick decent bookis. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Thank you for your kind words! I hope that your book group pick some good choices for you to read in future.

  14. Andi says:

    Great list! I see many books that I would adore discussing with a group, and there are several here I have on my shelves already. They’re waiting for me as patiently as they can.

    I would add Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross, and also What I Loved, by Siri Hustvedt. Both books were great discussion books for me personally as there’s just enough controversy thrown in to make for some varied and spirited opinions.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andi, I haven’t heard of Pope Joan before – thank you for drawing it to my attention. I have heard great things about What I Loved – I have a copy here and will get to it one day.

  15. Stephanie says:

    My book club just chose Amy & Isabelle, by Elizabeth Strout for next month. We don’t really have any guidelines with books except that they have to be over a year old because most of our memebers get books from the library and it’s a lot harder to egt new books in a timely manner.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I love Olive Kitteridge, but haven’t read any of her other books yet. I look forward to finding out what you think of it. I think a lot of book groups avoid new books. We have a rule about them being paperbacks too. Some of my choices are new releases, but you can ignore them or just wait a while before you picking them.

  16. Mae says:

    I don’t belong to a bookclub but that’s an excellent list you have there. And you were correct about the titles in the ‘unknown’ list – I haven’t heard of a single one! That’s pretty sad.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mae, Don’t worry – I hadn’t heard of most of them – that is why they are in the unknown list!

  17. Awesome list! If I ever getting around to joining a book club, I’ll be sure to use it! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. LOL! I’ve discovered some fantastic books while researching the list. I’m going to read a lot of them without a book club.

  18. Rebecca Reid says:

    one of my bookclubs is reading The Help next month so I’m glad to see it one one of your lists! My other book club is reading classics written before 1950, and I dont’ see many of those on your list…

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, Sorry, I don’t have many older classics on my list. Mostly because I haven’t read any, so can’t recommend them personally, but also because they weren’t mentioned on the book club forums I used to research this post. It sounds as though not many people are reading them. I hope you can continue promoting them and I’ll be able to read a few more soon.

  19. bilgitarifi says:


    Thank you for thies all links!


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