Top 2014 Book Club Recommendations - Part 1

Here are a dozen recommendations for your book club to read in 2014. All have already published in hardcover and ebook, and all will publish in paperback between January and April 2014.

In order to decide which are right for your book club, you can browse an excerpt of each and a range of review opinion. In addition, most have a handy printable reading guide.

Thanks for reading!

Davina, BookBrowse Editor

The Fever TreeThe Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

Paperback: Feb 2014. 448 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Berkley Books

McVeigh's The Fever Tree is entrancing and provocative. It is a beautiful character drama and an insightful historical representation. This novel is not to be missed.
(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker)

Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Paperback: Feb 2014. 416 pages. Novel. Published by Hogarth Books

Anthony Marra's forte may very well be his ability to create characters his readers really come to care about. Every one of them, from the lowliest guard up, is drawn with amazing depth, with the author sometimes conveying a character's whole history in just a few sentences. He even leads his readers to understand and sympathize with the book's most unsavory character, something that is extraordinarily difficult to do.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs)

Reviews & Excerpt

Above All ThingsAbove All Things by Tanis Rideout

Paperback: Feb 2014. 416 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Berkley Books

Many authors never surpass the masterwork with which they started their careers. If Tanis Rideout writes no other novel, she has achieved mastery in this first long work and has given us a treasure. I personally hope she will continue to write so skillfully of the inner human struggle. Some would call this a historical novel, but it is more than that: it is an exploration of the conflict of the human heart, which all must face and within which we each must shape our destiny.  
(Reviewed by Bob Sauerbrey).
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

The Painted GirlsThe Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Paperback: February 2014. 416 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Riverhead Books

Cathy Marie Buchanan offers an unsentimental look at family and love during an era more noted for its glamor and optimism, wealth and excess. While the story can be heartbreaking at moments, Buchanan's beautiful prose gives this emotional read, hope.
(Reviewed by Jennifer Dawson Oakes)

Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

The Still Point of The Turning World The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp

Paperback: February 2014. 272 pages. Memoir. Published by Penguin Books

In The Still Point of the Turning World Emily Rapp examines her son's all-too-brief life - and her own reactions to it - fearlessly and with an honesty that will devastate and astonish not only other parents, but everyone who opens this remarkable book.
(Reviewed by Norah Piehl)
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Eighty Days JacketEighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World
by Matthew Goodman

Paperback: March 2014. 496 pages. History/Travel, AdventurePublished by Ballantine

Part history lesson, part travelogue, part adventure story and totally engrossing. I knew after reading the first page that this book was a keeper. And I was right. Not only is the story fascinating, but the historical facts contained within make one aware of how fortunate we are to be able to travel as we do today.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers)
Reviews & Excerpt

Z: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler

Paperback: March 2014. 384 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by St Martin's Griffin

I absolutely loved Therese Ann Fowler's charting of the Fitzgeralds' relationship – the fairy-tale young love, the giddy first years of marriage, the gradual disillusionments piled richly one on top of the other, and the eventual complete unraveling of the relationship. It's deeply tragic because both Scott and Zelda are so deeply talented yet so fundamentally flawed. Right until the end, you can sense their deep and abiding love of one another even as they become increasingly toxic for each other.
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte)

Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

FeverFever by Mary Beth Keane

Paperback: March 2014. 320 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Scribner

Heart wrenching and dark but I was unable to put Fever down. Amidst the churning and changing of bustling New York City Mary is trying to find understanding and meaning and some element of peace in a world where she unwittingly has become an angel of death.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers)

Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Behind The Beautiful ForeversBehind The Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Paperback: April 2014. 288 pages. Current Affairs. Published by Random House

Some books carry me along, this one pulled. It was not easy to read, yet not easily put down. Poverty, corruption, racism, economic envy, and brutal indifference toward human life pummel the inhabitants of Annawadi, Mumbai's undercity, yet amazingly, there exist pockets of hope and aspiration. I have been inspired by this book (Karen J). There have been few books in my life that have stayed with me long after reading them - for instance, To Kill a Mockingbird and Angela's Ashes - and now I will add Behind the Beautiful Forevers to the list
(Reviewed by Anne B)
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

Paperback: April 2014. 352 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Back Bay Books

Through a varied narrative that includes multiple perspectives, letters and haunting poems, Kent's novel unravels with superb pacing and suspense, eventually revealing the truth of what happened the winter night the murders occurred. Chapters employing Agnes's direct voice are especially powerful when she contemplates death. Kent also keenly captures the uniqueness of her novel's setting: Iceland's beauty and isolation, its sense of solitude--and despair.
(Reviewed by Suzanne Reeder)
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

The Other TypistThe Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Paperback: April 2014. 368 pages. Historical Fiction. Published by Berkley Books

Rindell's voice is like a cross between Merricat in Shirley Jackson's overlooked masterpiece, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Humbert Humbert in Nabokov's Lolita. Her version of an unreliable narrator is less deft and layered than either of those books, but she has nonetheless constructed a suspenseful story with a propulsive pace.
(Reviewed by Amy Reading)

Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Gone Girl Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Paperback: April 2014. 432 pages. Thriller. Published by Broadway Books

On finishing Gone Girl I immediately contacted my friends to insist they read it; it's one of those books that I simply couldn't wait to discuss with others. I found it to be an original, engaging mystery that kept me guessing throughout. It's the perfect novel for readers looking for fast-paced escapism.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs)
Reviews, Excerpt & Reading Guide

Publication dates are for USA, and may differ elsewhere. Dates were correct at the time this blog went to press but publishers do sometimes change publication dates at short notice.

More Book Club Recommendations

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Davina: Great List! Gone Girl and Z are both huge favorites among my book clubs, while others such as Behind the Beautiful Forevers and The Painted Girls were already on my TBR list—but perhaps need to be pulled to the top... And, of course, I always learn of new titles from you that MUST be added. This time it’s Above All Things and The Fever Tree. Thanks for keeping us book nerd informed! Cheers!
# Posted By Book Club Cheerleader | 1/4/14 11:36 AM
Always good to hear from you Book Club Cheerleader :)
# Posted By Davina Witts | 1/4/14 5:24 PM
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