Distinguished Debuts: Introduce Your Book Club to Their New Favorite Author

Who doesn't love being on the cutting edge and discovering the next big thing? This month, we recommend debut novels by authors who are rising stars in the literary world and are already creating quite a buzz, snagging coveted literary awards and nominations, and spots on "best of" lists. All six books have recently been released in paperback and are recommended for book club discussion--and come with discussion guides.

Tommy Orange's There There (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) and Caleb Johnson's Treeborne both explore the intersections of place, history and personal identity. Zeyn Joukhadar's The Map of Salt and Stars offers an emotionally resonant look at the Syrian refugee crisis, while Fatima Farheen Mirza's A Place for Us (a New York Times bestseller) is centered around an Indian family navigating cultural and religious differences. Shobha Rao's Girls Burn Brighter presents an inspiring and defiant narrator who summons the courage to flout familial and societal expectations. Similarly, Leah Franqui's America for Beginners narrates an Indian mother's transformation as she visits the United States in search of her son.

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BookBrowse on the BBC!

I was recently invited to speak with Winifred Robinson on BBC Radio's leading consumer affairs program "You and Yours" about men in book clubs. More specifically, on how men's book clubs can provide connection and companionship in ways that other social settings often do not, and why men's book clubs aren't as common as women's book clubs.

You can listen to the 7-minute segment here (starts at 10' 15"). And if you like what you hear, please do share with others!

-- Davina

The 13 Things Book Clubs Look For When Picking Books

When you look at the representation of book clubs in the media in general, they are often portrayed as social groups that drink wine and gossip and - if there's time - discuss rather unchallenging works of "women's fiction." This view is shared by many readers. In fact, when we asked people who read at least one book a month and who are not in a book club their reasons for not being in one, 33% said they thought book clubs are primarily social groups not engaged in serious book discussion!

While there is truth to the idea that many book clubs make time for social discussion and that some enjoy a glass of wine (more on these topics in future posts), data shows that book groups generally read high-quality, thought-provoking books that spur intellectual debate across a range of genres and topics.

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So Much Love for Library Book Groups!

So Much Love for Library Book GroupsI'm excited to share with you my article on the American Library Association's Book Club Central website: "So Much Love for Library Book Groups!"

If you find it interesting, please do share with others!

It's based on our recently released report: The Inner Lives of Book Clubs: Who Joins Them and Why, What Makes Them Succeed, and How They Resolve Problems.

Here's a brief snippet from the article:

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Ignite Your Book Club Discussions with These Page-Turning Thrillers

It's summer, a time when you might be looking for a captivating read to bring along on vacation. If your book club is seeking thrills, or looking to solve a mystery; look no further than these six books, all of which are recently released in paperback with solid reviews and helpful guides that should spark lively discussions in your group.

If you have a penchant for unreliable narrators, consider Alice Feeney's Sometimes I Lie or Greer Hendricks' The Wife Between Us, both of which delightfully upend expectations and keep the reader guessing to the end. Ali Land's Good Me, Bad Me and Christopher J. Yates' Grist Mill Road explore the psychological implications of witnessing or experiencing a terrible crime secondhand. Mariah Fredericks' A Death of No Importance is a historical mystery set in the early 20th century for fans of period pieces, and Jane Harper's Force of Nature features a sharp-minded federal agent tracking a killer in the Australian Outback (and made BookBrowse's 2018 Best Books list).

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What to Do When a Book Club Member Talks Too Much

As reported in our recent publication The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, the vast majority of book club members surveyed describe their group as a vital and fun aspect of their life. They report enjoying a sense of community and a deepened sense of empathy and, often, close personal friendships.

But even in the most harmonious of book clubs, conflict is likely to arise at some point, and if disagreements are not resolved, problems may grow more intense and people may end up leaving their book club - or worse - they may reach a breaking point and disband the group altogether.

38% of those who left a book club due to dissatisfaction did so, at least in part, because of an overly dominant personality.In our research we've found that one common cause of conflict are overly dominant personalities (ODPs) - people who, whether intentionally or not, occupy too much of the limelight and overpower one or more elements of the book club, such as book selection or the discussion itself.

We have one member who is subtly dominant and sabotages book choices that are more challenging.

One member does a lot of research into books but only in the genre she likes. Because she has done so much work we often feel obligated to choose her books.

One of the original founders sees it as her book club. She talks at least twice as much as anyone else and there can be no changes to our format without her blessing. Members have quit because of this.

One of the members would just talk on about herself and her family; the rest of us couldn't get a word in. It was supposed to be a fun night out but it wasn't, so I quit.

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