In this month’s Sassy Book Club, author Lisa Beazley lets you know the best books to discuss with your friends in your own book club
By now, the kids are stuck in at school and mama’s got her routine back. For many of us, that means book club! What to read next is the question. I find that the best picks for a rousing discussion have one or both of two essential ingredients: A controversial main character – one who has you yelling, “Oh no she didn’t!” – and/or a single central dilemma of the what would YOU do? ilk: the kind that could stir a debate even before you read the book. Here are six books that fit the bill. Now you tell us: What is your book club reading this month?
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Perfect for: Those who believe truth is stranger than fiction
Tara Westover couldn’t have had a more shocking upbringing if she were raised by actual wolves. Instead, she was born to a family of religious zealots and paranoid survivalists in the mountains of Idaho. When she begins to educate herself (she never even stepped foot in a school until age 17), she is shocked to learn about such events as the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. You’ll witness her perspective actually changing as she goes from ignorant to educated. Her insight and intelligence will wow you as much her deep family loyalty breaks your heart in this truly affecting coming-of-age story.
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Perfect for: Those who like to talk about life and death and what it all means
How’s this for a conversation starter: If you knew the precise date of your death, how would you live your life? The four Gold children visit an old gypsy witch who gives them this troubling information. Each sibling is affected in different ways, leaving you wondering whether you would chose to know, and whether you would ever be the same once you did.
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Perfect for: Book clubs that don’t shy away from tough topics
When two poor Indian girls form a deep friendship over a sari loom, it’s by far the brightest thing in their otherwise difficult lives. When the girls are torn apart they wind up in places they desperately wish to escape: an abusive arranged marriage, and a human trafficking ring. Each has to fight through adversity incomprehensible to most of us who have lived our lives in the developed world. Through it all, they never stop trying to find each another again. An inspiring meditation on the power of friendship, this story tackles domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism with aplomb.
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Perfect for: Book clubs who like a boozy theme
Bold, intelligent, ambitious, and beautiful Martha Gellhorn, the most famous war correspondent of the 20th century and Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, is a captivating subject. When she and her beloved find themselves fulfilling their dreams alongside each other, it seems too good to be true. But Ernest pulls far ahead with the wild success of For Whom the Bell Tolls and Martha finds it challenging to stay in an all-consuming love affair with a very famous partner while she still has so much she wants to accomplish herself. She has a choice to make. Her decision will break hearts and inspire debate — and that’s before you even get started on whether old Hem is a selfish pig or merely a needy genius. If you drink half as much as Gellhorn and Hemingway do in the book, you might want to cancel tomorrow morning’s bootcamp.
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Perfect for: Wellness junkies
If you would never dream of bailing on your morning bootcamp, this one’s for you. This smart and nuanced debut novel by Singaporean Rachel Heng is blowing up internationally so much so that she may soon have us saying, Kevin Who?
In near-future New York City, Lea Kirino is a Lifer, which means she gets to live forever…as long as she does everything right. While much of it seems farcical, you will recognize the sacrifices we all make in the quest for a more youthful appearance and a longer life. The essential question here is: when it comes to living your life, is quantity necessarily better than quality? Discuss…
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Perfect for: Those who like to kiss and tell
Talk about an ice-breaker. Our poor, misguided main character is smart and relatable but she is in love with a sociopath. The hotter the sex, the blinder she becomes to just how diabolical he is. Mid-way through, you start to lose patience and just want to grab the little dummy by the shoulders and shake her. Under his spell, she makes one bad decision after the next. Some readers will forgive her and others won’t. Which side will you be on? Go on and debate it, while recounting your own past questionable lovers over a few glasses of your social lubricant of choice.