Five Debut Novels to Discuss With Your Book Club

It's always exciting to encounter a debut novel that you really love. It's a great experience to be there from the beginning and then follow an author over the course of their career, watching their voice evolve and seeing how they might choose to experiment with different genres or themes in their writing. Reading a debut with your book club can be especially fun because you get to have this experience together. You might even talk about where you see the author going in the future, or what you'd like them to write next.

Here are five debut novels that have recently been released in paperback, all of which received glowing reviews on BookBrowse. We have reading guides available for each and we're discussing two of them in our own online book club so you can compare and contrast your club's thoughts with ours.

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Anti-Racist Reading Lists for Book Clubs

Recent protests against race-based police violence have influenced many in the United States to begin educating themselves on how to be antiracist. These events may also inspire book clubs to hold valuable discussions about fighting systemic racism and to consciously read more books from Black authors.

But with all of the reading lists flooding the internet right now, it can be difficult to know where to begin. So we've put together some focused lists for different types of reading that you can use as a starting point for antiracism discussions and actions in your book club.

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Six Books About Immigration by Latinx Authors

If you're at all plugged into the literary discourse online, you've probably heard something about the controversy surrounding Jeanine Cummins' immensely successful and Oprah-endorsed immigration novel American Dirt. The book tells the story of an upper middle class Mexican woman who flees a drug cartel boss with a vendetta, embarking on an action-packed odyssey to cross the border into the U.S.

American Dirt has been very popular with our own subscribers, and we're glad that the discussion we hosted gave people the opportunity to share their love of the book. However, we're concerned about certain misunderstandings that have spread regarding the controversy. The greatest of these may be that critics of the book are claiming that a white woman should simply not be allowed to tell this kind of story. The truth is, few people are saying this. The larger problem has to do with a lack of diversity in the American publishing industry and misplaced priorities in terms of whose story gets told and who is regarded as a voice worth listening to. Would American Dirt have been such a smash hit if the author was a Mexican woman herself? Maybe, maybe not. (Though it is unlikely this exact book would have been written by a Mexican author, due to its factual inaccuracies.) Would a Mexican author have had a harder time selling a similar book? Almost certainly. Would the publisher have put the full weight of its publicity department behind American Dirt if the author was a Mexican woman? Unlikely.

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Literary Sequels

2019 was a year of literary sequels: bestselling authors expanding on fictional worlds they created, in some cases decades after the original book was published. Find Me by André Aciman is one such example, published 12 years after Call Me By Your Name. But it's hardly a new phenomenon—here are some of the most noteworthy literary sequels to have hit the shelves, often to the surprise and delight of readers everywhere.

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Reviews of 37 Exceptional Books Published in 2019

There are many places to find reader reviews on the web, but it can be a challenge to know which are truly independent.

The reader reviews offered through BookBrowse's First Impressions program are trustworthy because only our members can post them. Members have the opportunity to request books to read months ahead of their publication dates in exchange for their honest opinion. They can request specific titles but the books are assigned by an algorithm. So, while it's conceivable that someone with a personal connection to the book might receive a copy to review, the chances of there being enough people to influence the overall consensus is effectively zero.

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The Top 20 Best Books of 2019

It's been a great year for books, and if you haven't had as much time to read as you might have liked, hopefully you can take the opportunity over the holidays to rest, read, and refuel. If you don't already have a stack of unread books on your nightstand waiting for your attention (or even if you do), you'll definitely want to pick up a few of the titles in our Best of Year lineup consisting of the 20 books that were rated highest by BookBrowse subscribers in our annual Best of Year survey. The books are listed in ratings order lower down this page; but first, the four 2019 Award Winners!

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