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My most divisive bookclub picks…

As the years have been passing and I’m getting more experience running a book club I’m finding the best meetings are where we disagree on the books. Where the book was so long/intense/silly/sad/weird/etc that we end up having quite heated but hilarious discussions about why exactly some people loved it and others hated it. So with that in mind here are some books I’ve read that would be great for a bookclub that loves a good discussion. All of them are good - but for different reasons and in store we've had various heated discussions ourselves about them.

(As a side note, this only works if you are good friends and you don’t have an overly combative personality in your group).


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

- weirdly written WWII historical family drama but once you’re in the groove it’s got teeth

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

- some will love, some will hate and all for different reasons

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

- short and good for older bookclubs who can

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

- short and bittersweet

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

- intense, historical fiction about slavery

Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

- particularly if you’ve done Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood and want to have another take on the themes or can’t be bothered doing Handmaid’s Tale

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

- long, epic, breaks your heart but worth it.


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

- fascinating and informative that has you going ‘oh I get it’ about how some moments in history occurred

Sex with the Queen by Eleanor Herman

- it’s all true! The scandals and hilarious liaisons all the famous queens had

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

- science versus ethics, but with a real human story in the middle

Reckoning by Magda Suzbanski

- surprisingly engaging and the ending will give you a sock in the gut

Shrill by Lindy West

- outspoken woman discussing what it is to be the ‘wrong’ body size in modern society

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