For those of you in book clubs or reading groups, the Women's National Book Association has released its selection of 20 books for this year's National Reading Group Month list. The books were chosen "on the basis of their appeal to reading groups, which seek books that open up lively conversations about a myriad of timely and provocative and diverse topics, from the intimate dynamics of family and personal relationships to major cultural and world issues."
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (McSweeney's)
All My Puny Sorrows is the latest novel from Miriam Toews, one of Canada's most beloved authors — not only because her work is rich with deep human feeling and compassion but because her observations are knife-sharp and her books wickedly funny. And this is Toews at her finest: a story that is as much a comedy as it is a tragedy, a goodbye grin from the friend who taught you how to live.
All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir by Shulem Deen (Graywolf)
A moving and revealing exploration of Hasidic life, and one man's struggles with faith, family, and community
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Hogarth)
Marked by the same bravura storytelling and precise language that made The Crimson Petal and the White such an international success, The Book of Strange New Things is extraordinary, mesmerizing, and replete with emotional complexity and genuine pathos.
Call Me Home by Megan Kruse (Hawthorne Books)
Call Me Home has an epic scope in the tradition of Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves or Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and braids the stories of a family in three distinct voices: Amy, who leaves her Texas home at 19 to start a new life with a man she barely knows, and her two children, Jackson and Lydia, who are rocked by their parents’ abusive relationship.
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown)
Held captive by her employers--and by her own demons--on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (Scout Press/Gallery)
Elegant and heartrending, and one of the most accomplished fiction debuts of the year, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family—the ones we are born with and the ones we create.
Dietland by Sarai Walker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Part coming-of-age story, part revenge fantasy, Dietland is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper (Simon & Schuster)
“In this haunting debut, set in a starkly beautiful landscape, Hooper delineates the stories of Etta and the men she loved (Otto and Russell) as they intertwine through youth and wartime and into old age. It’s a lovely book you’ll want to linger over” (People).
Henna House by Nomi Eve (Scribner)
Rich, evocative, and enthralling, Henna House is an intimate family portrait interwoven with the traditions of the Yemenite Jews and the history of the Holocaust and Israel. This sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness—and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart—will captivate readers until the very last page.
Landfall by Ellen Urbani (Forest Avenue Press)
“A deeply soulful novel set during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina and the long, moody ebb of its aftermath, Landfall recalls Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God for the strength of the women in its pages, and their resilience despite immeasurable loss. Urbani knows it's only love that truly overcomes catastrophe, that even as we search for the answer to that most elusive question--Why? everything in our lives can always change in an instant, sometimes even for the better.” --Tony D'Souza, author of Mule
Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet (St. Martin's Press)
Jennine Capó Crucet renders this coming-of-age story with dazzling élan, full of moment both bittersweet and messy, heartfelt and honest. This is the type of debut novel that leaves you wanting more - in a good way. (Buzzfeed)
Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man by Thomas Page McBee (City Lights Publishers)
“[Thomas Page] McBee’s answer to the initial question of “what makes a man?” is more generous, more inspiring, and more creative than the usual gender binaries allow. Full of bravery and clear, far-sighted compassion and devoid of sentiment, victimization, and cliché, McBee’s meditations bring him a hard-won sense of self—one that is bound to inspire any reader who has struggled with internal dissonance.”––Publishers Weekly starred review
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell (Maiden Lane Press)
Set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi, and inspired by his Mississippi childhood, Odell tells the story of two young mothers, Hazel and Vida – one wealthy and white and the other poor and black – who have only two things in common: the devastating loss of their children, and a deep and abiding loathing for one another.
No. 4 Imperial Lane by Jonathan Weisman (Twelve)
From post-punk Brighton to revolutionary Angola, an incredible coming-of-age story that stretches across nations and decades, reminding us what it really means to come home.
Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade (Morrow Paperbacks)
In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.
A Perfect Crime by A Yi (Oneworld Publications)
A Perfect Crime is both a vision of China’s heart of darkness – the despair that traps the rural poor and the incoherent rage lurking behind their phlegmatic front – and a technically brilliant excursion into the claustrophobic realm of classic horror and suspense. With exceptional tonal control, A Yi steadily reveals the psychological backstory that enables us to make sense of the story’s dramatic violence and provides chillingly apt insights into the psychology behind a murder committed simply as an intellectual challenge to relieve the daily tedium of existence.
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton (Grand Central)
Timely and timeless, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man's view of human cruelty and compassion.
A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss (Berkley)
“Ferriss fills one family’s story with the elements of a political thriller. The well-drawn characters and believable settings lead readers to some understanding of how these young people are torn between tradition and modern life, but there are no easy answers.” —Booklist
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim (Crown)
A haunting memoir of teaching English to the sons of North Korea's ruling class during the last six months of Kim Jong-il's reign
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora (Grove)
“Acampora’s debut creates a portrait of a fictional upscale New York suburb, Old Cranbury, through a series of linked stories that are intelligent, unnerving, and very often strange… In each story, Acampora examines the tensions, longings, and mild lunacies underlying the 'beady-eyed mommy culture' and sociopolitical 'forgetfulness' marking Old Cranbury. At the same time, Acampora’s picture of the town—rendered in crisp prose and drawing on extensive architectural detail—is as irresistible as it is disturbing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)
Labels: 20 Great Reads, 2015, Book club, book list, fiction, National Reading Group Month, nonfiction, Reading Group, reading list