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!

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The World's First Cookbook

Marcus Gavius ApiciusIn Crystal King's Feast of Sorrow, Apicius and his slave, Thrasius, develop their own cookbook. A quick search into Roman history reveals that Marcus Gavius Apicius actually did publish such a book (or rather a series of them), which most historians consider the first cookbook ever written. However, nowhere in the 450-500 recipes in this eponymously titled tome is there a reference to a slave by name. King made this literary leap, jumping to the conclusion that it was highly likely that a slave invented and/or produced recipes for the Apicius household, and not the master himself. The fact that several sources I found note that the language used in these books was more "vulgar" than "classical" Latin would also support this idea – even literate slaves would use less sophisticated language than their patrician masters.

Apicius CookbookWhat is amazing is that this cookbook, which is about 2000 years old, is still around today. I found numerous references to publications of this particular collection of recipes in the original Latin, starting from the year 50 in Rome, again in 500 in Greece, and continuing across the centuries, with some translations into Italian and German along the way. The Guttenberg Project has the Frederick Starr translation of this cookbook first published in Chicago in 1926. In the preface, it says "The present version has been based chiefly upon three principal Latin editions, that of Albanus Torinus, 1541, who had for his authority a codex he found on the island of Megalona, on the editions of Martinus Lister, 1705-9, who based his work upon that of Humelbergius, 1542, and the Giarratano-Vollmer edition, 1922." Starr, who was a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, claims to be the first to translate this book into English.

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23 Movies Based on Books Releasing in Fall 2017 & Winter 2018 (and a further 40+ in development!)

It's time again for our annual look at upcoming movies based on books, so you're in the know and ahead of the crowd - whether you intend to see the films or not! We've corralled 23 films releasing in the next six months, and the books they are based on; and a further 45+ in development. If we've missed any, or you have updated information, please do post at the bottom.

First published in Sept 2017, updated to add even more upcoming movies based on books, in Nov 2017

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6 Books That Help You Talk About Death and End-of-Life Care

Healthcare is a global hot-button issue and recent political discussions in the United States have brought the topic front and center in the national dialog. A whole slew of books have looked at the complex issues surrounding mortality and care: when to intervene, when to not, what does quality of life mean, and the importance of a life well lived without prolonging suffering. The ones we feature in this blog will give you plenty of food for thought, and angles to discuss if you're part of a book club. The topic of health might often be weighty but how better to address it than with your friends and family as part of a broader life discussion and through the accessible avenue of books!

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A Van Gogh Reading List

Vincent and Theo Deborah Heiligman's young adult biography Vincent and Theo draws on the hundreds of letters that passed between the Van Gogh brothers. There are various editions of Vincent's letters, including a 2009 version endorsed by the Van Gogh Museum that contains all Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The letters between Theo and his wife, Johanna, are also available in translation as Brief Happiness (1999), and Jo left a short memoir of Vincent.

Here are four more books, not limited to the young adult genre, that allow for further reflection and/or speculation about Vincent van Gogh's career and character.

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Shakespeare in Books and Film

According to Guinness World Records, William Shakespeare is the world's best-selling playwright, with in excess of four billion copies of his plays and poetry making it to press over the centuries. He is also history's most filmed author; his works have been adapted into 420 feature film and TV-movie versions (Hamlet alone has been performed on screen 79 times). While his plays are timeless works of art, some people find them challenging due to the Elizabethan prose. Over the years many attempts have been made to adapt the plays into a format that contemporary audiences might find more accessible (some resulting in a more faithful interpretation than others).

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