Struggling to find the best books to read in a book club? Get the most perfect suggestions for really good book club books that get your reading groups actually reading the books and discussing them.
One of the most common requests I get from readers is to help them pick books that make for an excellent group discussion. So, I finally sat down and curated my own unique list of book club suggestions that I deem to be the best book club books of all time for you to read next.
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In curating this list of five-star book club books, I focused on a few different sets of data:
- My personal book club recommendations
- The best book club books for discussion as searched by readers worldwide
- Good book club reads from the most prominent celebrity book clubs
First, I share book club book suggestions based on my own personal reading experiences. Occasionally, books I read make me think so deeply, and I want to discuss them so badly, that I can’t help but write and share personally-crafted book club questions for them. And if I feel so much about a book, I think you will too. So, these books made up the first section of this list of suggested books for a book club. It includes links to my book club discussion questions for each book, so it’s super easy for you to read them and have a fun discussion.
Second, I share some book club book recommendations based on popular book club favorites — those which readers around the world are most often searching the web to find book club questions. (As a blogger, I am able to use tools to research this search data.)
Third, I share my picks for the best book club book recommendations from celebrity book clubs (that weren’t already mentioned). I follow these book clubs closely, and I know readers love to read these picks too, so I thought it would be helpful to share the best of the best for each prominent celebrity book club reading list.
Most of these suggested book club books are fiction, but you’ll find a few nonfiction picks too.
Also, I know it can be really overwhelming to choose book club books even when you have an ultimate list like this. So, instead of giving you lengthy descriptions of each book, I provide details about who I think would like it the most and/or what general topics it offers for discussion, so you can peruse the list to try to find something that feels like a great match for your specific group.
Top 3 Picks
My Recommended Books for Book Clubs
In this section, get picks based on the books I personally think make for good books for book clubs, as a full-time book blogger. These are the books that really made me THINK and want to discuss.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Oprah’s Book Club) is a coming-of-age story of a modern Appalachian man who grows up in a world of poverty, the foster system, and addiction. Through this empathetic and colorful protagonist who experiences blow after blow in life and must fight for his own survival, the reader gets a firsthand look at the struggles facing many Appalachian Americans today to discuss.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Read with Jenna pick) was my #1 favorite book of the past several years. Essentially, it’s a sibling story with a lot of family dynamics and characterizations to discuss. (I always recommend the audio version, which is read by Tom Hanks — another thing you can talk about!)
Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros came out of nowhere and became a smash hit both with readers and book clubs, particularly those who like to read fantasy books. Talk about romance at the military school, the shocking deaths and twists and, of course, dragons.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is one of my absolute favorite books of the past several years, and I still think about it all the time. It’s about a Russian aristocrat under house arrest in a grand hotel for decades, beginning in 1922 Moscow. You can discuss the hotel and the memorable cast of characters, Russian history, and themes of freedom, human connection, and purpose.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai is truly unforgettable (and award-winning) historical fiction about a group of friends during the AIDS epidemic. It would work well for fans of literary writing and/or Rent. I thought it was exceptional.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a page-turning whodunnit (and why) for fans of thrillers and Agatha Christie-style locked room mysteries. It’s really unputdownable and offers conversations about the characters and the twists.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell would make a good selection for reading groups that like the classics and/or Shakespeare. It’s extremely literary, and I found myself taking notes of things to discuss as I read along. It’s a historical fiction account of the death of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, which is said to have inspired Hamlet.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (Oprah’s Book Club) is one of my favorite reads about a young man whose family endured a tragedy decades earlier that left him with parents who didn’t nurture him. As a college freshman, he meets a woman named Julia with three unique sisters, who hail from a loving family, hearkening to the sisterhood set forth in Little Women. He inexplicably changes their lives for generations in this epic family saga about family, love, anger, and forgiveness. It completely draws you in and leaves you unable to forget the realistic characters.
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand is an uplifting, light-hearted, feel-good book for women and fans of beach reads, The White Lotus and/or Below Deck. Discuss all the lavish details of the swanky New England hotel and the escapades of the staff and the guests… which sometimes intermix. There are so many elements you can bring to life for your group meeting, from the food to the scents, music, and ambiance.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Reese’s Book Club pick) was my personal favorite book of 2021, and I read it in about one day. It’s about a husband who disappears after leaving a note to his wife: “Protect her” — his 16-year-old daughter. After his boss is arrested and FBI agents arrive at her home, she realizes she needs to uncover who her husband really is. It’s a relatable book that poses the ultimate discussion question, “What would I do in her shoes?”
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (GMA Book Club pick) is a really popular novel with a strong female lead that readers (including me) just love. It’s the story of one female chemist on an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute in the 1960s, who becomes a single mother, and the star of America’s most beloved cooking show, on which she challenges women to change the status quo. It’s great for fans of Legally Blonde, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and/or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Reese’s Book Club pick) is one of my favorite books in recent years about explosive tensions in a 1990s Ohio neighborhood after the lives of a rich white family and a multi-cultural mother and daughter intertwine. Class, race, and motherhood are exquisitely explored throughout numerous storylines and are ripe for discussion.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is another one of my absolute favorite books of the past several years. Reader favorite Backman presents a heartwarming and tear-jerking character exploration of an elderly man who has become hardened by life. You can talk about what’s shaped him, what offers him hope, and how this all relates to real life too.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (GMA Book Club pick) is an excellent book club pick that has been popular with book clubs for years now. Nora is faced with the decision of whether to change her life for a different one based on her regrets and, in doing so, follow a different career, undo old breakups, and realize various dreams. There are so many major life themes to be discussed here, and readers can also discuss the impact of their own life choices.
Spare by Prince Harry is a massively bestselling celebrity memoir that doesn’t really need a description of what it entails and/or why it’s a good book for discussion. I’m simply reminding you it exists, and I’m sure you can adequately decide whether it’s right for your group!
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Reese’s Book Club) is a literary masterpiece. Through lush prose, a married middle-aged mother of three and Michigan cherry farmer named Lara tells her three adult daughters the story of the youthful Summer in which she dated a man (who became a famous actor) while they starred in a local production of Our Town together. It’s that simple, yet it means so much more, as it relays themes of memory, choices, the past, and storytelling. Every book club will assuredly talk about what parts of the story Lara chose to keep to herself and why.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (GMA Book Club pick) was my favorite book of 2020. It’s the complex story of mesmerizing characters: light-skinned Black identical twin sisters raised in a light-skinned Black Louisiana township. Each chooses a different identity as an adult, and it’s one fascinating tale with so very many themes to explore: race, identity, exposure, education, environment, and acting, to name a few.
Verity by Colleen Hoover is for book clubs that don’t mind being absolutely shocked and disturbed by an extremely graphic thriller. I read this fan favorite in one sitting, and I still feel shocked by it years later. When a struggling writer agrees to finish the work of an injured author, she discovers her dark and depraved notes, which pose the ultimate question to readers, are these notes the author’s autobiography or a fictional manuscript?
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears is the kind of celebrity memoir that will offer a lot of hot topics for so many book clubs. It offers her personal perspective on events we thought we knew about, and it leaves a lot for discussion about fame, reality versus perception, and generational trauma.
Popular Book Club Book Ideas from Readers
In this section, get book ideas based on the books for which readers around the world are most often looking for book club questions. This crowdsourced data makes for a good book club suggestion for you too!
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman allows readers to think about and discuss the nature of various characters in a botched hostage situation. Explore the variations in human nature and psychology in the face of anxiety through the character development for which Backman is known and beloved. If you like Backman and/or psychology, you’ll probably like this one too.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert takes readers to the New York City theater world during the 1940s, as an 89-year-old Vivian looks back on her youth. It’s a memorable tale filled with themes of female sexuality, promiscuity, and love to discuss, along with how certain events change the course of one’s life. I can still recall reading it years ago.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (Read with Jenna pick) is a popular depression-era historical fiction about a woman who heads West in search of a better life. Readers can discuss the time period and the harrowing journey of this strong woman. It definitely delivers for fans of Hannah’s work.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo is an award-winning book about modern Britain and womanhood. It’s the poignant story of twelve different, yet connected Black British women that makes a statement about contemporary Britain and looks back on its history in Africa and the Caribbean. As you may imagine, there is a lot to discuss regarding this one.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is the biggest smash hit of the past several years, so read this one if your book club doesn’t want to miss out, but rather see what all the hype is about. It’s an extremely emotional love story of a woman whose father abused her mother, and whose husband now abuses her. It’s raw and graphic, with heavy themes of generational abuse and related topics to explore.
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is about secrets, revenge, and women saving each other over the course of history. It begins in 18th-century London, where a secret shop offers poisons to save women from oppressive men. But, the mistake of a young patron brings consequences that last centuries, as they are uncovered by a historian in the present day. It’s a great selection for women and those who like books that intermix genres, like history and mystery.
The Maid by Nita Prose (GMA Book Club pick) is a Clue-like whodunnit about a hotel maid who struggles socially and finds herself as the lead suspect in the murder of a hotel guest. There’s both a mystery and charming characters to discuss in this popular read.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Read with Jenna pick) is a great pick for a 1980s-themed book club meeting. It’s about a party at the home of a famous family that ends in flames. Talk about the time period AND the family dynamics created by this popular author.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick (Read with Jenna pick) is a book I’ve seen a lot of book clubs pick recently. It tackles big philosophical life questions set against a backdrop in which every human learns how many years they will live. At issue are topics like: Do you want to know this? What would you do differently?
Remarkably Bright Creatures (Read with Jenna pick) is a universally beloved book with a whole lot of heart. A janitor at an aquarium forms a friendship with an octopus and tries to reveal the truth about what happened to the janitor’s son, who disappeared over thirty years earlier. It’s a heartwarming pick that’s the kind of book you can’t go wrong in selecting.
Best of Celebrity Book Club Picks
In this section, get book picks based on the books I and readers of The Literary Lifestyle deem to be the best celebrity book club picks (Oprah’s Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, Read with Jenna Book Club, Good Morning America Book Club, and Fallon Book Club).
Since there are many great celebrity book club picks mentioned above, I won’t repeat any, but rather I will list some additional books that are some of the best and most popular.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (Fallon Book Club pick) is a decades-long saga of neighboring families bound by a tragic event and themes of family, friendship, mental health, love, and forgiveness. I still think about it years after reading it, which is a great marker of a book that will likely resonate with book clubs.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (Oprah’s Book Club pick) is an extremely immersive, suspenseful #OwnVoices book about African immigrants and their New York employers. (I adored it.) It tackles race, class, and the economy through many lenses at the time of the Recession, so there’s a lot to talk about with this one.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson (Read with Jenna pick) offers family dynamics with a Caribbean flair. It’s a universally beloved family drama about estranged siblings that must come together to deal with their mother’s death. The heart of this story is a Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe and a voice recording filled with the mystery of a young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder and a long-lost child. Be sure to make the cake while you’re discussing it!
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Reese’s Book Club pick) is the uber-popular documentary-style book (and Book of the Month’s Book of the Year) about a 1970s rock band, complete with song lyrics. Discuss the unique format and the salacious lives of the band members.
From Scratch by Tembi Locke (Reese’s Book Club pick) is the tear-jerking memoir of a Black American actress whose Italian husband died of cancer amidst family strife. It works for a lot of different book clubs, as it offers romance, grief, race issues, infertility, family relations, an Italian setting, and a true story.
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a truly satisfying and shocking thriller about a woman who wishes to become the next wife of her friend’s husband. It’s been one of the best-selling books with readers of The Literary Lifestyle for years now, so I think it’s almost guaranteed to please book clubs looking for a good thriller.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a tear-jerking romance book about love, lost love, and the controversial things people can do in life and love. Readers can discuss their emotions and their personal thoughts on the characters’ decisions. It made me cry, so I’d have a lot to say!
Long Bright River by Liz Moore (GMA Book Club pick) is one of my favorite books of the past several years. I like to call it a thriller with a social conscience, and it’s great for those who want to discuss the opioid epidemic. It’s about a Philly cop whose addicted sister goes missing, and it says a LOT about the epidemic while also offering suspense that keeps you reading.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a satisfying and suspenseful, very well-written historical fiction book about Cuba, with both modern and historical storylines. It works well for book clubs that want to explore Cuba, history and/or strong women.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a gripping, shocking, bestselling story of two sisters fighting for survival during World War II in France for those clubs that like to read emotionally-driven historical fiction that readers pretty universally have liked.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (Oprah’s Book Club pick) is a good choice for book clubs that want a well-constructed character to discuss. This is all about Olive, a curmudgeon you can’t help but love touches upon major life themes in short snippets of real life. It also offers a well-constructed New England backdrop you can use as a basis for your book club food and fun.
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (GMA Book Club pick) is a dramatic comedy that tackles generational wealth through the eyes of various members of a Brooklyn Heights family, primarily two different sisters, their middle-class sister-in-law, and the well-to-do matriarch who rules their roost. It’s sharp and observant, which provides a lot of fodder for conversations about class.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Fallon Book Club pick) is a book unlike any I have read before. Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist, who is now a teacher that has stolen a dead student’s book idea, which leads to increasing threats against him. There are twists and turns to discuss, along with the ultimate question of who owns an idea.
The Push by Ashley Audrain (GMA Book Club pick) is one of the most thoughtful literary thrillers I’ve ever read. On the surface, it’s about whether one mother’s daughter is “good” or “bad.” But, beneath, it’s a complex rumination on motherhood and generational trauma. There are a lot of controversial issues to discuss here, particularly for parents.
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok (Read with Jenna pick) offers both a mystery and AAPI themes for discussion. It’s a truly exceptional, suspense-filled mystery about the disappearance of a woman, and the ties that bound her with her sister and mother in a Chinese immigrant family. I love to recommend this one because it really delivers.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Read with Jenna pick) is one of Jenna Bush Hager’s favorite books of all time, and it’s also one of my favorites. I simply can’t think of a more atmospheric book club book for Fall. This dark academia thriller is about an eccentric group of students at a New England university studying the classics during the 1980s, as they fall down a dark path of death and destruction. You’ll definitely want to discuss the characters in this one.
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (Oprah’s Book Club pick) is the memoir of a Black man falsely convicted of murder, who spends 30 years on Death Row before his release. It’s always a bestseller with readers of The Literary Lifestyle and, obviously, offers the backdrop for a thoughtful discussion about race, class, and the justice system. I can still hear his voice in my head, though I listened to it years ago.
This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel (Reese’s Book Club pick) is the universally beloved and heartfelt story of raising a transgender child. It’s an exquisite LGBTQ book club pick that fosters discussions about parenting and diversity.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (Reese’s Book Club pick) is a great nonfiction pick, especially for book clubs that struggle with getting members to finish the books, as it’s both short and super engaging. In a collection of advice columns, bestselling author Cheryl Strayed offers heartbreaking and heartwarming solutions to the problems of anonymous readers. You can discuss the most memorable columns and your personal thoughts on the advice given.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Fallon Book Club pick) was my favorite book of 2022 (and it won several “Book of the Year” awards). It’s the story of a friendship that spawns a video game empire… with nods to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s an unforgettable tale of identity, love, and, of course, the importance of “play” that people will discuss for years to come.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Reese’s Book Club pick) is one of those books that’s so popular you have to read it if you haven’t already, so why not do it in a book club?! See what the hype is about in this story of a girl who lives alone in a North Carolina marsh. There’s everything from romance to a murder mystery to keep you talking.
Frequently Asked Questions
A few things to consider when selecting a book club book are its length, how widely available it is, how popular it is with readers generally, and what kind of topics it offers for discussion.
The world of literature is vast and diverse, offering endless options for good book club books. The titles highlighted here represent the most compelling stories to spark vibrant discussions based on the input of: myself as a book blogger, readers worldwide, and celebrity book clubs. Whether you favor poignant memoirs, thrilling mysteries, or sweeping historical tales, there’s a book club pick out there to captivate every reader.
To recap and help you decide what to read, the three most popular book club picks right now are: