Best Books for Book Clubs in 2018

We know. Among the many hundreds upon thousands of books that are published every year, it is difficult to select just a few that will make worthy additions to your book club lineup. So we've done the legwork for you. These fourteen books offer engaging and powerful stories and plenty to discuss. We have included a good mix of fiction and nonfiction and tossed in a mystery and a thriller while we're at it. After all, variety is the spice of life -- and of any respectable book club. If you've got suggestions to share, please do post at the bottom!

History of Wolves History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Paperback Nov 7, 2017. 288 pages. Published by Atlantic Monthly Press. Also in hardcover & eBook

Fourteen-year-old Madeline Furston is lonely and adrift until she attaches herself to the Gardners, a family that moves into their small Minnesota Northwoods town. Soon Madeline notices that not all is peaches and cream with her new friends. And before she knows it, she realizes she is caught in a web of complicity due to inaction. Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, this novel, filled with vivid descriptions, precisely captures the limitations of lopsided human relationships and the actions we commit that can scar our lives forever.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Also online discussion

I See You I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Paperback Nov 7, 2017. 384 pages. Published by Berkley Books. Also in hardcover & eBook

The scariest stories are when horrifying things happen to people just like you and me. This is the brilliant premise on which I See You rides. Zoe Walker is an everywoman living out her daily life commuting to and from her London job, but one nerve-wracking revelation shatters that veneer of normalcy. Drawn into a battle for her life she does what she can to outpace her potential murderer in this sharply plotted thriller which has plenty of satisfying twists and turns to satiate even diehard mystery fans.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt
paperback book jacket The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

Paperback Nov 14, 2017. 272 pages. Published by Algonquin Books. Also in hardcover & eBook

Placidia Hockaday is just a teenager when her husband is called back to fight on behalf of the Confederacy in the Civil War. He leaves her behind along with her slaves. When he returns two years later he finds that she is charged with a crime she won't speak about. Vividly transporting readers to the old South, this novel is about deep-rooted beliefs and the life events that make us challenge our own assumptions.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Also online discussion
paperback book jacket The Hearts of Men: A Novel by Nickolas Butler

Paperback, Dec 26, 2017. 400 pages. Published by Ecco. Also in hardcover & eBook

The path not taken comes back to gnaw at Nelson Doughty, who was an introverted teenager but found structure in the Boy Scouts especially after scoutmaster Wilbur Whiteside, provided guidance to the struggling boy. Decades later, Nelson is back at the same Boy Scout camp as scoutmaster himself. His experiences in Vietnam have colored his outlook which is weighed down by a strain of melancholy. Nelson's life-long friendship with Jonathan, who he first met at camp, and with Jonathan's son, forms the ballast for the latter half of this touching novel which explores universal questions.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt
paperback book jacket All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel by Bryn Greenwood

Paperback Oct 2017. 432 pages. Published by Thomas Dunne Books. Also in hardcover & eBook

A beautiful, disturbing love story between two unlikely people set against a tough Midwestern backdrop. To quote a participant in our discussion: "If you asked me before I read this book if I would be rooting for Kellan and Wavy or even just any character in this book I would have said no. How do lives such as these even exist?...The author forces upended thinking and the stark truth that not everything is always black and white. Choices and circumstances shape us but do not need to define us."
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Also online discussion

paperback book jacket To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

Paperback Oct 31, 2017. 304 pages. Published by Flatiron Books. Also in hardcover & eBook

Rich girl, poor boy. Rich boy, poor girl. That fundamental trope has been explored numerous times in fiction before but you can't resist Beatrice Colin's particular take set in a France that was slowly making way for Bohemian independence. Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier might be looking to nurture a relationship with familiar challenges as they come from vastly different strata but Colin's engaging historical novel expertly blends their life stories against a majestic canvas.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Also online discussion

paperback book jacket Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Paperback Jan 2, 2018. 496 pages. Published by Grand Central Publishing. Also in hardcover & eBook

"History has failed us but no matter." So starts Min Jin Lee's panoramic saga that traces generations of a Korean family transplanted to Japan. The story opens with Sunja, the daughter of a South Korean fisherman who, faced with the shame of an unplanned pregnancy, finds hope in a kind minister who marries her and takes her with him to Japan. The novel, filled with lush detail, traces the family members through World War II and bouts of brutal poverty as they try to find their places in hostile territory.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt

The Dry The Dry by Jane Harper

Paperback Jan 2, 2018. 320 pages. Published by Flatiron Books. Also in hardcover & eBook

You can feel the parched earth crunch under your feet in this spellbinding mystery set in the hinterlands of Australia. The drought in Kiewarra has wrecked almost everything, most especially the economy. But is it the volatile conditions that precipitated a double murder-suicide or something else? One relentless detective is set to find the answer. A compelling portrait of a town in the grip of the nine-year drought, known as the Big Dry, that ended in 2012.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Discussion opening Jan 2

A Piece of the World A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

Paperback Jan 30, 2018. 320 pages. Published by William Morrow. Also in hardcover & eBook

Christina might have been a severely crippled woman but she didn't see herself that way. Neither did Andrew Wyeth, one of America's legendary painters who finds his muse in Christina. Based closely on the real-life story of Christina Olson, the subject of one of the twentieth century's most iconic paintings, "Christina's World," this captivating historical novel dives deep into life on the Olson's small Maine farm where Wyeth lived for many years.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt. Discussion opening Jan 30
paperback book jacket Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Paperback Feb 2018. 544 pages. Published by St. Martin's Press. Also in hardcover & eBook

What can a young boy do when the fulcrum around which his life revolves is suddenly yanked away? This is precisely what Edgar faces as his primary caretaker, his grandmother, passes away and he must grow up with his unreliable and temperamental mother, Lucy instead. As Edgar stumbles upon obstacle after obstacle, and both he and his mother grow up, he narrates a story that is filled with pathos and tempered with many moments of downright delight.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt
paperback book jacket Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

Paperback Apr, 2018. 336 pages. Published by Touchstone. Also in hardcover & eBook

The ghosts of genocide have worked havoc with Cambodia ever since Pol Pot's brutal regime. Ratner, herself a child survivor, narrates the story of a young woman who returns to her native Cambodia to find out what happened to her father. As she struggles to reconcile past with present, the strains of music serve to ameliorate some of the challenges she struggles with. A haunting book that is a worthy follow-up to Ratner's earlier lush novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt

paperback book jacket The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

Paperback March 6, 2018. 496 pages. Published by Sourcebooks. Also in hardcover & eBook

The miracle element radium was all the rage in the early twentieth century and an American corporation employed young girls to precisely paint watch dials with it for glow-in-the-dark effects. The corporation intentionally masked the ill effects of the toxic elements which slowly comes to light as woman after woman falls sick. While the legislative battles surrounding this appalling practice have been documented, this compelling work of nonfiction humanizes the collective "radium girls" and in doing so, shines even more light on a dark chapter of American history.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt
Mercies in Disguise Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, a Family's Genetic Destiny, and the Science That Rescued Them by Gina Kolata

Paperback Mar 20, 2018. 272 pages. Published by St. Martin's Press. Also in hardcover & eBook

Amanda Baxley has a choice: she can take a genetic test that will tell her if she has a rare familial disease that has already killed many of her loved ones, or she can remain in ignorance waiting for the day the first sympton shows - or doesn't. What would you do? As genetic testing becomes increasingly common, this moving narrative of one family's journey will yield many questions ripe for book club discussion.
Review, article, reading guide and excerpt
Being Mortal Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Paperback Sep 2017. 304 pages. Published by Picador. Also in hardcover & eBook

One of the medical profession's most respected players points out that, somewhere along the way, medicine has lost sight of the end goal. In the aim of prolonging quantity of life, doctors have ignored quality of life. This riveting book anchored in sound research shows that there are ways life can be lived with dignity right up to the very end and equally important, provides a vehicle for families to discuss this very important topic.
Review, article, reading guide, excerpt. Also online discussion
Also recommended: Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. This was originally due to release in paperback in 2017, and thus was featured in our Best of 2017 post, but will now publish in January 2018.

The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
# Posted By Ash | 10/20/17 5:56 AM
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