The only thing better than reading a good book is being able to share it with friends. To celebrate reading with others, I’m featuring books that foster discussion. These books would be ideal for a book club or to chat about with a friend. Feeling extra? Check out a copy for yourself and then buy one to send to a friend or relative.
“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman is a novel about a bank robber who accidentally takes eight strangers hostage. It’s ultimately a novel about mental health and being kind and decent to one another. I found it funny, insightful and life affirming.
I recently finished re-reading “Carrie Soto is Back” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. In this novel, it’s the 1990s and retired 1980s tennis star Carrie is back to defend her winning record. Carrie was raised by her father, and coach, Javier to pursue excellence in tennis at all costs. She’s determined to regain her strength and start winning again. But can she keep winning forever? This fun, fast read has excellent themes. You don’t have to be interested in tennis or sports to read this book; Reid will pull you in regardless.
If you enjoy historical fiction, “Code Name Helene” by Ariel Lawhon is a fascinating novel about real-life Australian WWII spy Nancy Wake. Wake is a strong, confident and capable character that you root for. A great choice for book clubs. Another excellent book to discuss is “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richarson. This is an engrossing novel set in 1930s Kentucky about pack horse librarians and people with a blood disorder that makes their skin blue. A sequel, “The Book Woman’s Daughter,” was published in 2022.
For nonfiction that will make you laugh and want to get outside, try “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson. Bryson teams up with his ill-prepared friend Katz to try and hike the entire Appalachian Trail. I learned a lot and laughed out loud throughout this book.
For something light, bookish, and short, try “84 Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff. I love recommending this 106-page book during busy seasons, like the holidays or summer. This is a delightful book of letters between American playwright Hanff and a British bookseller in the years post World War II.
One unforgettable read that invites discussion is “The Only Plane in the Sky: an Oral History of 9/11” by Garrett Graff. Graff includes interviews with people from all different areas affected by 9/11: in the towers, in NYC, in the Pentagon, etc. A tough, but moving read.
Another great nonfiction book to discuss with others is “Concussion” by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Laskas tells the story of how Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, uncovered the damaging effects of concussions on the brains of former NFL players. This is a quick read that will make you think. There is also a movie of the same name (starring Will Smith) based on a GQ article that Laskas wrote.
I recommend “The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir” by Kao Kalia Yang. Yang tells the powerful story of how her young Hmong parents fled genocide in Laos for a refugee camp in Thailand. Yang lived in the camp for the first 6 years of her life before immigrating to Minnesota, where her family worked hard and struggled to adapt and fit in. The library's book club had a great discussion about this book and we really appreciated the perspective it gave us.
If you’re looking for a book group, the library has two book clubs, and is running a three-month trial, March-May, of an afternoon book club! Library Book Club will meet Mar. 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and Mar. 14 from 2-3 p.m. to discuss “The Bookish Life of Nina Hill” by Abbi Waxman. Social Justice Book Club will meet on Mar. 22 from 6:30-8 p.m. to discuss “Beautiful Country: a Memoir” by Qian Julie Wang. Books are available at the front desk. Come join us; we’d love to discuss books with you.
Katelyn Boyer is the Adult Services Librarian at the Fergus Falls Public Library.