Book Club Books - My Reading Group's Book List

My book club's many-year reading list. Book ideas for book clubs and reading groups.

My book club's reading list, mostly classic literature and contemporary fiction.Because books clubs are so popular, especially among women and especially (I believe) among food bloggers and food-blog readers, I'm sharing the books my reading group has read -- we've been reading together since 1994!

Our book club is plenty social, but at the same time, serious about our reading. We hire a 'professor' and we read books in series, by theme. So our list may well inspire other reading groups, both new book clubs thinking about what books to read and established groups looking for new book ideas.

Naturally, we're always looking for new themes, new book ideas. If you've got a favorite, please leave a comment. If your own book club publishes your reading list online, let me know and I'll add a link here. The more the merrier!






"Writers we admire and reread are absorbed into the fine print of our consciousness, into the white noise of our thoughts, and in this sense, then can never die."
- Ian McEwan on the death of Saul Bellow


#1 19th CENTURY WOMEN AUTHORS
Ethan Frome- Edith Wharton
The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath
Their Eyes Were Watching God- Zora Neale Hurston
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys
The Yellow Wallpaper- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Awakening- Kate Chopin

#2 MORE WOMEN AUTHORS
Frankenstein- Mary Shelley
Beloved- Toni Morrison
The Woman Warrior- Maxine Hong Kingston
Housekeeping- Marilynne Robinson
The Country of the Pointed Firs- Sarah Orne Jewett

#3 AMERICAN AUTHORS
Bastard Out of Carolina- Dorothy Allison
The Worn Path- Eudora Welty
Why I Love at the P.O.- Eudora Welty
A Good Man Is Hard to Find- Flannery O'Connor
also Good Country People & The Artificial Nigger
Betsey Brown- Ntozake Shange
Native Son- Richard Wright
My Antonia- Willa Cather
Written on the Body- Jeannette Winterson

#4 SENSUALITY
The North China Lover- Marguerite Duras
Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert
The Immoralist- Andre Gide
The Vagabond- Colette
Giovanni's Room- James Baldwin
A Year in Provence- Peter Mayle (GUY THING)

#5 OFF-THEME
Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen
Animal Dreams- Barbara Kingsolver

#5 WAR
Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane (Civil War)
Goodbye to All That- Robert Graves (WWI)
All Quiet on the Western Front- Maria Remarque (WWI)
Testament to Youth- Vera Brittian (WWI)
The Caine Mutiny- Hermann Wouk (WWII)
Dispatches- Michael Herr (Vietnam)

#6 AFRICA
Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad
Things Fall Apart- Chinua Achebe
Out of Africa- Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
The Joys of Motherhood- Buchi Emecheta
July's People- Nadime Gordimer
The Famished Road- Ben Okri
Middle Passage- Charles Johnson (GUY THING)

#7 MEMOIRS
The Liar's Club- Mary Carr
A River Runs Through It- Norman McLeod
An American Childhood- Annie Dillard
This Boy's Life- Tobias Wolff
Memories of a Catholic Girlhood- Mary McCarthy
King of the Hill- AE Hotchner
Angela's Ashes- Frank McCourt

#8 HISTORICAL NOVELS
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- John Behrendt
Paradise- Toni Morrison
A Take of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
Jewel in the Crown- Paul Scott
Corelli's Mandolin- Louis de Bernieres
Angle of Repose- Wallace Stegner
The Confessions of Nat Turner- William Styron
Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood- Rebecca Wells

#9 JEWISH LITERATURE
The Shawl- Cynthia Ozick
The Dean's December- Saul Bellow
American Pastoral- Philip Roth
My Name Is Asher Lev- Chaim Potok
The Assistant- Bernard Malamud

CLARKSVILLE RETREAT
Einstein's Dreams- Alan Lightman

#10 ASIA
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China- Jung Chang
The Joy Luck Club- Amy Tan
Some Prefer Nettles- Junichiro Tanizaki
Kitchen- Banana Yoshimoto
The God of Small Things- Arundhati Roy
Leave It To Me- Bharati Mukherjee

#11 CANADIAN FICTION
The Stone Angel- Margaret Laurence
The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood
The Stone Diaries- Carol Shields
The Beggar Maid- Alice Munro
Herland- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Love of a Good Woman- Alice Munro

#12 NATIVE AMERICA
Black Elk Speaks- John Neihardt
Yellow Raft Blue Water- Michael Dorris
Ceremony- Leslie Marmon Silko
The Man Who Killed the Deer- Frank Waters (GUY THING)
House Made of Dawn- N. Scott Momaday
Education of Little Tree- Forrest Carter
The Lake Dreams the Sky- Swain Wolfe
The Quiet American- Graham Greene

#13 ON OUR OWN
Half a Heart- Rosellen Brown
The Poisonwood Bible- Barbara Kingsolver

#14 IRISH AUTHORS
Dubliners- James Joyce
The Woman Who Walked into Doors- Roddy Doyle
House of Splendid Isolation- Edna O'Brien
The Last September- Elizabeth Bowen
Inland Ice- Eilis Dhuibhne
Van- Roddy Doyle

#15 GOOD BOOKS
A Town Like Alice- Nevil Shute
The Adventures of Huck Finn- Mark Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee "MOM THING"
Anne of Green Gables- Lucy Montgomery
- Charles Dickens
The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway

MISSOURI SELECTION
Farewell to Manzanar- Jeanne Wakatsuki

#16 BLOOMSBURY
Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf
The Hours- Michael Cunningham
Seabiscuit- Laura Hillenbrand (GUY THING)
A Room with a View- EM Forster
A Room of One's Own- Virginia Woolf

#17 SCIENCE FICTION - we loved this entire series!
Stranger in a Strange Land- Robert A Heinlein
The Time Machine- HG Wells
Left Hand of Darkness- Ursula Le Guin
Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
The Sparrow- Mary Doria Russell
Children of God- Mary Doria Russell

#18 MAGICAL REALISM
Leaf Storm - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The House of the Spirits- Isabel Allende
Like Water for Chocolate- Laura Esquivel
A Wild Sheep Chase- Haruka Murakami (GUY THING)
East, West: Stories- Salman Rushdie
Love Medicine- Louise Erdrich
Balzac & the Little Chinese Seamstress- Sijie Dai

#19 MYSTERY
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd- Agatha Christie
The Alienist- Caleb Carr
Thus Was Adonis Murdered- Sarah Caudwell
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman- P.D. James
Devil in a Blue Dress- Walter Mosley

#20 "CROSSROADS"
Mrs Caliban- Rachel Ingalls
The Life and Loves of a She Devil- Fay Weldon
Excellent Women (Penguin Classics)- Barbara Pym
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
Blue Shoe- Anne Lamott
The Dogs of Babel- Carolyn Parkhurst (GUY THING)

#21 LOST & CONFUSED
Life of Pi- Yann Martel
One So Bad We Won't Admit to Reading It!
Traveling Mercies- Anne Lamott
Patron Saint of Liars- Ann Patchett

#22 UNDERGROUND THINKERS
The Bluest Eye- Toni Morrison
Notes from the Underground- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Slaughterhouse - Five- Kurt Vonnegurt
Beneath The Wheel- Herman Hesse

#23 SUMMER OF FAULKNER
As I Lay Dying- William Faulkner
The Sound and the Fury- William Faulkner
Light in August- William Faulkner

#24 INSIDE OUT
"The theme flips the phrase 'on the outside looking in'. In each work, the narrator is physically, psychically or socially detached. In addition, these are touchstone authors and texts on the themes of time, memory, and place. In a topsy-turvy way, these books are literary window peeping."

Sula- Toni Morrison
A World of Love- Elizabeth Bowen
Portrait in Sepia- Isabelle Allende
Jacob's Room- Virginia Wolf
Summer- Edith Wharton
Cat's Eye- Margaret Atwood

#25 ISLAM
Minaret- Leila Aboulela
Midnight's Chidren- Salman Rushdie
Reading Lolita in Tehran- Azar Nafisi
The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- Jonathan Safran Foer

#26 FAMILY
The History of Love- Nicole Krauss
Gilead: A Novel- Marilynne Robinson
On Beauty- Zadie Smith
Three Junes- Julia Glass
The Memory Keeper's Daughter- Kim Edwards

#27 Canonical Classics
The Memory Keeper's Daughter- Emily Bronte
Lady Chatterly's Lover- DH Lawrence
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Howard's End- EM Forster

#28 Vampires
Dracula - Bram Stoker
I, Vampire - Michael Romkey
Salem's Lot - Stephen King
Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice

#29 Christmas
Peace Like a River - Leif Enger

#30 Looking Back: The Narrative Art of Remembering
Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway
Here is Where We Meet - John Berger
Running in the Family - Michael Ondaatje

#31 Booker Prize Winners
The Gathering- Anne Enright
The Inheritance of Loss- Kiran Desai
The Sea - John Banville

#32 Mark Twain
(The Entire Mark Twain Collection (300+ Works) is available on Kindle for just $.99, no I didn't misplace the decimal point, for a buck.)
The Diaries of Adam and Eve and Other Stories
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
Life on the Mississippi
The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

JOINT BOOK CLUB & POTLUCK
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals- Michael Pollan

CHRISTMAS
A Christmas Memory- Truman Capote

#33 ALL-MALE AMERICAN REVIEW
The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway
Tender Is the Night- F. Scott Fitzgerald
East of Eden- John Steinbeck
Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger

#34 ANTEBELLUM FICTION: FROM BATTLEFIELD to HOME FRONT
"Historical fiction has long been a popular genre; it attempts to capture the manners and spirit of period with exacting detail. In particular, antebellum ('before the war' - usually references the American Civil War) fiction focuses the readers attention on not only the battle itself, but imagines the psychological and philosophical struggles of its protagonists. This series is a collection of novels that go beyond the battlefield to capture the struggles on the home front. " ~ Kami Hancock

Cold Mountainby Charles Frazier
Little Womenby Louisa May Alcott (also available free for Kindle)
March: A Novelby Geraldine Brooks
The Shackby William P Young (Christmas book)
The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil Warby Howard Bahr
Clotel: Or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States by William Wells Brown

#35 Defining Home
"Is it the places from which we come, or the soil where we plant our roots that defines who we are becoming? These novels offer insight into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires." ~ Kami Hancock

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon



About the Red Wine Book Club
When I moved to St. Louis, I left behind friends I loved, many in the book club started by Lisa from My Own Sweet Thyme and me. (Imagine: the host was expected to mail reminder invitations! Via the post office!) Nearly immediately after arriving here, I was invited to join a wonderful book club, a men's and women's group with high intellectual aspirations. Its reading rhythm however, didn't work for me and I missed the camaraderie of a women's reading group.

So I gathered my best friends, we hired a 'professor' (usually a grad student) to help us select our books and guide our discussions. Fourteen years and four professors later, we're still intact, we're still reading and we're still ... drinking red wine. (Yes, ours is a social as well as intellectual group.)

'GUY THINGS' Ours is a women's book club but every so often, we invite/prevail upon the men in our lives to join us for a special "Guy Thing" book club. These gatherings are often as much party as book club but we always do hold a book discussion.
Enjoy! ~ Alanna

15 comments:

Makes me wish I lived in St Louis again! That is really grand.

Oh, how I love new and different book lists. Thanks - so much to read!

When I moved here, I didn't know a soul, other than the legal types my husband introduced me to. Fortunately, one of those legal types asked me if I was interested in joining her book group, and when I did, I found a great group of friends. We don't have themes, so our book list meanders all over the place, but several of us are/were teachers and professors, and we're all avid readers, so I think we come up with interesting choices (with a few clunkers thrown in there for fun.) Our list of past books is online at http://www.sbvdesigns.com/bookgroup/booklist.htm.

Sounds so fun!

Too bad you've already read Frankenstein...I wrote my thesis on it!

If you ever need another "professor" to help or join in, I'd love to volunteer...talking to adults about books is something I miss doing. The high schoolers I'm currently teaching just don't get it. *sigh*

Alanna, I too helped to start a book club with friends when I lived in NC, which I had to leave behind when I moved back to IL. We named ours Read Between the Wines Book Club - we are a bit social too. The club continues, but I have not found a new group in IL - guess I should follow your lead and start my own. Loved your list and your theme idea. Have emailed your post to my RBTW friends. Thanks for the wonderful post!

Wow, what a phenomenal reading list! Since I've moved to the Pacific Northwest I haven't found a reading group that consistently works for me. Yours sounds like a great challenge and a lot of fun.

Actually I am surprised at how many of these titles I have read since I am not the reader I used to be. Did you really love "The Sparrow"? that book still haunts me a little especially since a friend and I were responsible for bringing snacks for our group that month. In that group we always tried to bring something that tied into the plot of the novel. That month was a particularly interesting challenge and I haven't forgotten!

Frank Delaney's Ireland might fit right into your Irish Authors category, even though he's emigrated to the US. I loved it!

Great book lists to be shared with my fellow bookies! Thank you.

Hey there,
I came across your blog because you've read Anne Enright, and there's a book hitting the shelves now that you might love for your book club--Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos. I don't know what themes you have coming up, but it's about the Midwest, family tragedy and redemption, and it just seems like you'd like it from what you've read in the past.

Full disclosure, I work for the publisher, but this is an entirely sincere recommendation. I also sent your book club post to my mother in Mt. Vernon, IL for inspiration!

Amy

Add -- Red White and Drunk All Over (http://www.nataliemaclean.com/book/) -- to your list!!!

Your lists are great! Thanks so much for sharing them.

Our club is doing a literary vampire theme in Spring 2009. NOT Stephenie Meyers, but instead Bram Stoker's Dracula, Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, and Susan Hubbard's The Society of S and The Year of Disappearances (which are both about the same characters). I'll be reading them all for the second time, with great pleasure.

i have stumbled upon your blog thru' the initial intent on finding an egg bread for easter(craving inspired by ukranian boss), then was drawn to the veggie venture via newly-vegetarianized son, but was moved to comment FIRST TIME EVER on a blog by your book club lists. i think you must be a far away kindred spirit, judging by the titles, and am comforted by that and the other links your web-wand has waved my way.
small-town cook(big-time reader) in small-town, canada

Dulce ~ Hurrah for 'delurking' - books are their own form of nourishment, yes? My mother's family is Canadian, all originally from Manitoba and mostly still there, so who knows, perhaps these kindred spirits have connected before ... who knows?! Your words touched me, thank you for braving the comment process to say hello.

PS I don't have a Ukranian bread, yet, but right this very minute am up to my elbows in flour for Hot Cross Buns.

What a wonderful book list. I can't wait to share it will my
own book club and griends. Thanks.

when my uncle kent passed, mom said go in the house and take something that will endear him to your heart. the bookshelf was were i went. i have limited editions of poetry and prose, first edition of catcher in the rye and romeo and juliet, if i live to be 100 years old i will never begin to be able to say thank you for his wonderful collection that keeps me grounded.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna