Back in the summer of 2019, when we could all still meet in groups over drinks, I joined an LGBTQ+ book club hosted at M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina. I had never connected so well with a group of strangers! Soon, they were friends who I loved chatting with at every meeting.
Now, in the days of COVID-19, we meet online, giving us a small moment to reconnect over zoom and discuss that month’s book. Our picks range from young adult novels to poetry collections to memoirs, each with their own unique stories to tell. So if you’re looking for some great book club picks — that are also great on audio — here are a few of my favorite picks from my book club!
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis, Read by the Author
Our most recent pick is a personal favorite of mine: Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis. Cantoras follows a group of of queer women in Uraguay through the decades as they make a home for themselves amongst found family. This novel makes for an excellent discussion pick as different book club members connected with different women in the group. All sorts of discussion broke out about readers’ feelings around various points of drama in the novel. Carolina De Robertis reads the audiobook, adding that extra layer of depth and feelings that only an author reading her own work can.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, Narrated by Christian Coulson
This whirlwind young adult romance set in 18th-century Europe features Monty, a young future nobleman on a tour of Europe as his last hurrah before settling down and joining the family business. But Monty has no desire to join the family business. Naturally, the trip does not go as planned, and Monty finds himself stranded with his sister and his best friend, Percy, with whom Monty just happens to be in love. This book was the perfect adventure to distract us from the chaos around us, giving us a protagonist that was incredibly polarizing and led to an intense amount of debate in all of the best ways.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Narrated by Ramon de Ocampo
At the beginning of last fall, we definitely were looking for an escapist read. Book Riot favorite Red, White, and Royal Blue did just the trick. There’s nothing like this whirlwind romance between the son of the President of the United States and a prince of England. It’s pure fantasy and unrealistic in all of the best ways. That month, our discussion was more a balm on our anxious souls than anything else. Ramon de Ocampo performs the book in a way that communicates the joy and playful energy of the novel.
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom, Narrated by Adri Almeida
In this fictionalized memoir, Kai Cheng Thom tells the story of a young Asian Canadian trans girl just trying to find a place for herself in the world. Thom includes fantastical elements throughout the story, which help express what the protagonist is feeling. Our book club discussed this fabulist story for a long time, often trying to wrap our minds on its unique form.
Homie by Danez Smith, Read by the Author
When a poet reads their own work, some sort of audiobook magic happens. So when my book club prepared to read Homie by Danez Smith, I encouraged everyone to pick up the audiobook and to watch Smith perform their work on video. When we arrived to discuss the poetry collection, we could all bring Smith’s performances to the forefront of our minds. This made for a discussion of both the text itself and how the poems sound when read aloud.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
As a huge Samantha Irby fan, I couldn’t wait to discuss We Are Never Meeting in Real Life with my book club. With her bawdy humor and sharp insight, Irby is a delight to read and discuss. Everyone has their favorite essays and scenes to retell. Several of us listened to the audiobook and couldn’t help but gush over Irby’s perfect narration.