Top 2013 Book Club Recommendations (Part 1)

So many books. So little time! How many times have you caught yourself saying just that? And when it comes to picking what works for your book club, it's not enough to pick just what you want to read, it has to appeal to the rest of your reading buddies as well.

We make this task-- of winnowing just the right picks -- easy for you! Many of our reviews are of books that make perfect reading choices for book clubs. Here we feature a dozen carefully selected books, all of which will publish in paperback in early 2013. To help you decide, you can browse through an excerpt and a range of review opinion for each book (and, if you're a member, BookBrowse's full review and backstory). Most also have a handy printable reading guide. I know you'll find plenty in here that will spark lively discussions in your book club.

So the only thing you have to worry about at your next discussion is -- who will bring the wine and cheese!

Davina, BookBrowse Editor

Publication dates are all for USA, and may differ elsewhere


Wish You Were HereWish You Were Here by Graham Swift

Paperback: January 8, 2013; 336 pages. Vintage Books

In his ninth novel, Swift returns to the same motifs - broken family relationships, English landscapes, and an internal narrative based on memory - that run through nearly all of his books... Swift delivers a truly remarkable story about one very unhappy family. He is a deeply affecting writer, one who explores the murky crevices of his characters and their lives... While a reader may not emerge emotionally unscathed, they will have had a deeply felt experience in reading this dark and aching novel that will resonate with you long after the last page is read.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide



Gods Without MenGods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

Paperback: January 8, 2013; 384 pages. Vintage Books

What could a UFO hippie cult, a British rock star, a Spanish Franciscan priest, the son of a Sikh and his autistic son have in common? The Mojave Desert, for one thing. A search for meaning that connects the earthbound physical plane with the spiritual, for another. In his fourth novel, Hari Kunzru confronts head-on the quandaries of modern life while walking a fine line between irony and authentic emotion, between seriousness and lightheartedness, without missing a step. 
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


A Land More Kind Than HomeA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Paperback: January 22, 2013; 336 pages. William Morrow

A stunning debut reminiscent of the novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


QuietQuiet by Susan Cain

Paperback: January 29, 2013; 352 pages. Broadway Books

Though her research is current and substantial, the basic tenets of introvert-versus-extrovert issues that Cain explores are, for the most part, not revelatory. Rather, it is her big picture view and her unification of so many aspects of one maligned temperament that make the book an excellent read. Quiet is different from previous books on introversion because it explores the topic from so many perspectives. Other titles on this subject tend to be strictly in the self-help genre or straight memoir. Cain approaches introversion as a cultural anthropologist might, looking for all the ways it affects our society.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide



A Good AmericanA Good American by Alex George

Paperback: February 5, 2013; 432 pages. Published by Berkley Books

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together... Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider - in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


Behind the Beautiful Forevers Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Paperback was scheduled for release in Feb but has been moved back to Fall 2013. Published by Random House

In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human via Katherine Boo's focus on the makeshift settlement of Annawadi, in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century's hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


Defending JacobDefending Jacob by William Landy

Paperback: February 26, 2013; 496 pages. Published by Dell

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis - a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide



Bring Up The Bodies Bring Up The Bodies: Wolf Hall Trilogy #2 by Hilary Mantel

Paperback was due to publish in February, but has been moved to May 7 to coincide with the paperback release in the UK. 432 pages. Published by Picador

The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall, delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide



Forgotten CountryForgotten Country by Catherine Chung

Paperback: March 5, 2013; 304 pages. Published by Riverhead Books

Weaving Korean folklore within a modern narrative of immigration and identity, Forgotten Country is a fierce exploration of the inevitability of loss, the conflict between obligation and freedom, and a family struggling to find its way out of silence and back to one another.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


The Best Care Possible The Best Care Possible: A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life by Ira Byock

Paperback: March 5, 2013; 336 pages. Published by Avery

Like books by Atul Gawande and Jerome Groopman, The Best Care Possible is a compelling meditation on medicine and ethics told through page-turning, life or death medical drama. It is passionate and timely, and it has the power to lead a new kind of national conversation.
Reviews and Excerpt (no reading guide available at the time of writing)


Why Be Happy When You Could Be NormalWhy Be Happy When You Could be Normal by Jeanette Winterson

Paperback: March 12, 2013; 240 pages. Published by Grove

The essence of Winterson's own tenuous life-story is mimicked in the structure of her memoir, a jumble of hazy pieces coalescing into a mind, a self. What felt unformed and gangly in the first half becomes svelt and athletic; what was meandering becomes as sure and steady as a freight train.... Winterson offers a reader much more than the satisfaction of voyeuristic curiosity that marks so many train-wreck memoirs; this is a memoir about how we deal with our lot in life. Not how we can endure it, but how we might meet it, how we begin a dialogue with it, how we become who we are when we are done being our past. 
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide


The World Without YouThe World Without You by Joshua Henkin

Paperback: April 9, 2013; 240 pages. Published by Vintage

Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true meaning of family.
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Top 2013 Book Club Recommendations, Part 2

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How The Light Gets In by Louise Penny