Through all of the terrible and wonderful things we’ve been through over the past few years, there’s one thing that remains constant: book clubs. Book clubs continue to be a wonderful way to meet people or to meet up with your friends and discuss something we all love.
Picking the right books for your book club can make or break your meeting. Will you have plenty to talk about with this book, or will you stray off topic and start complaining about politics yet again? I’ve been to both kinds of book club meetings, and they can both be valuable time spent with friends. But of course, ideally, book clubs are looking for the types of books that give them so much to talk about that — for an hour or two at least — they are given an opportunity to escape the normal everyday conversations and stresses in life and instead talk about something a little different. Something thought-provoking. Something fun.
Right about now, you’re probably starting to plan your club’s book picks for the fall and the summer. And there are tons of great options. Here’s a list of must-read books for your book club that are out now or that will be out in time for your summer/fall book club meetings.
Book Club Books to Read This Summer and Fall
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Rebecca Serle’s previous novels In Five Years and The Dinner List were excellent book club choices, and her latest One Italian Summer is another one to add to that list. Bonus: this one is set in Italy! After the unexpected death of her mother Carol, Katy embarks on a solo trip to Italy. It was originally meant to be a fun two-week mother-daughter journey to Positano, a town where Carol spent a summer right before she met Katy’s father. Once she gets there, Katy can feel her mother’s presence everywhere. And then Carol is actually there, in the flesh and only 30 years old. Now Katy has the unique opportunity to spend time with a different version of Carol. A Carol that isn’t her mother but rather the young woman who existed years before Katy was born.
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
Grace D. Li’s mystery thriller debut is Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell. It’s a thrilling, page-turning novel, but there’s also plenty happening in this book that would be worthy of a book club meeting discussion. Inspired by a true story, Portrait of a Thief is a story that explores the colonization of art and the complexity of the Chinese American experience. Across the Western world, museums display pieces of art looted from other countries, taken through war and colonialism. Now Will Chen, a senior at Harvard, plans to steal them back.
You Made A Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi is another novelist who’s written plenty of book club-worthy books. But this novel marks their first foray into romance fiction. Feyi Adekola is an artist who lost the love of her life in an accident five years ago. Since her lover’s death, she has opened up her own studio, lives in a fabulous brownstone apartment with her best friend, and has found ways to find joy in her life once again. But now it’s time for that final step: getting back into the dating scene.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
While we’re on the romance train, here’s another new buzzy romance novel that everyone is talking about. And your book club will want to talk about it too! After all, a book about books is pretty much irresistible to all book clubs. In this enemies-to-lovers romance, Nora Stephens is determined to become the heroine of her own story, which is why she agrees to head Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August with her sister Libby. This is her opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and her stressful publishing job. Only, there’s one major problem. Charlie Lastra, an editor from back in the city whom Nora can’t stand — just so happens to be in Sunshine Falls as well.
Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera
This debut literary novel follows the story of a Dominican family who has immigrated to New York City. The Guerreros have lived in the city for 20 years. When gentrification hits their predominantly Dominican neighborhood, each family responds differently. Eusebia, the matriarch of the family, seeks desperate measures in a scheme to stop construction. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter Luz finds herself romantically involved with the handsome white developer at the company her mother is fighting against.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
If your book club is looking for a fun, heart-warming contemporary novel with a dash of time travel, this book has got you covered. Nearing 40, Alice is satisfied with her life. She’s got a good job. Great friends. A nice apartment. A satisfying romance life. But her father is ailing, and Alice can’t help but feel something is missing. Then, Alice wakes up the next morning to finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. Yes, it’s surprising, but the most shocking part is her father. Watching the vital, healthy, 40-year-old version of her father with her own life experiences in mind, Alice sees the man from a whole new perspective.
Nuclear Family by Joseph Han
Nuclear Family is a beautiful literary debut that’s a family drama and funny political commentary, among so many other things. The Chos seem to have it all figured out. Mr. and Mrs. Cho have just franchised their Korean restaurant across Hawaii, their daughter Grace is finishing her senior year of college, and their son Jacob has just moved to Seoul to teach English. But then everything falls apart when a viral video shows Jacob trying — and failing — to cross the Korean demilitarized zone. Little do the Chos know, Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his grandfather, who desperately wants to cross the divide and be reunited with his family in the north.
Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou
This is a hilarious and fun debut novel that book clubs will love, and this is also one of my favorite book covers of the year. In this “coming of consciousness” story, 29-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperately trying finish her dissertation on the late poet Xiao-Wen Chou so that she can move on with her life. When Ingrid stumbles upon a strange note in the Chou archives, she thinks she’s found the missing piece and her ticket out of academic hell. But as she tries to unravel the truth behind the note’s message, her discoveries will turn everything upside down.
Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh
Even if you’ve read Ottessa Moshfegh’s previous work, Lapvona will surprise you, and of course, it will give your book club plenty to discuss. Set in a village in a medieval fiefdom, this book follows the story of Little Marek, a motherless shepherd who finds an unlikely mother figure in the blind village midwife Ina. Ina has a magical ability to communicate with the natural world, which brings her knowledge far beyond anything available to the other villagers. Of course, any time a woman wields such power, others will fear her.
Somewhere We Are Human, ed. Reyna Grande and Sonia Guiñansaca
This book is the perfect book club pick for groups who love exploring multi-genre works. This collection features essays and poems by migrants, refugees, and Dreamers, illuminating their stories of living undocumented in the United States. Contributors include many award-winning authors, touching on a wide variety of themes, such as race, class, gender, nationality, sexuality, politics, and reproductive rights.
Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown
After you read this book, get ready for an intense discussion with your book club about what makes a family, how families evolve, and the meaning of motherhood. Any Other Family tells the story of three women who adopted four biological siblings and work together to keep their children connected after the death of their biological grandmother. Then the women get a call from their children’s birth mother that changes everything. She is pregnant again and is looking for an adoptive family for this child too.
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes
I’m a little biased with this pick because my very own book club read and discussed Linda Holmes’s Evvie Drake Starts Over. But I do think this author’s contemporary romance novels are the perfect summer book club reads. Plus, we love seeing romantic leads in their late 30s/40s. After her wedding was canceled, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot. But when she uncovers a strange letter that alludes to a missing duck, Laurie finds herself on a journey of self-discovery that will change her life forever.
The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid
This book is the latest from The New York Times best-selling author of Exit West, so this is going to be a buzzworthy book your book club will want to talk about. It all starts one morning when Anders wakes to find that his skin has turned dark. Before long, similar occurrences are reported everywhere. Are these changes marking an overturn of power dynamics? And how will others act when the world begins to change and see them differently? Lots of things to ponder in this book and to discuss at your book club meeting.
The Force of Such Beauty by Barbara Bourland
With how fascinated so many people still are with royals in our contemporary times, The Force of Such Beauty is going to be a must-read for plenty of book clubs. When former marathon runner Caroline meets Finn, the handsome prince of a small European kingdom, she feels like she’s finally fulfilling her destiny. After all, she’s disciplined, accustomed to public attention, and prepared to smile and wave on command. But entering a life of royalty is much more than Caroline bargained for. And it’s a bargain that might be impossible to be undone.
Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro
What’s more perfect for a book club than a book about friendship? Especially complex female friendships? Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab first met when they were college students in Nigeria, and they quickly became inseparable friends, in spite of their differences. Eventually, their lives took them in different directions. But now, 30 years later, the three women are reuniting for the first time in Lagos of Funmi’s daughter Destiny’s wedding. Funmi is determined for everything to go right for her daughter’s big day, but as the wedding approaches, it becomes clear that not everything is as perfect as it seems.
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
Omar El Akkad’s novels are another book club favorite because his characters are compelling and his stories are unique and thought-provoking. What Strange Paradise is a much different story from Akkad’s first book American War, but you’re still getting all the good book club-worthy stuff in both. A boat fleeing from Syria gets shipwrecked on a small Greek island. The only survivor is 9-year-old Amir, who is rescued by Vanna, a teenage girl and native of the island. Vanna and Amir come from two different worlds and don’t even speak the same language. But Vanna is still determined to protect Amir at all costs.
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Following Maggie O’Farrell’s critically acclaimed novel Hamnet, the author is now turning to the story of the duchess Lucrezia de Medici for this September release. Lucrezia lives a life of leisure in her family’s lush palazzo. But then her older sister dies the night before her wedding, and suddenly Lucrezia is forced to marry the ruler of Ferrara, Modena, and Regio. Although Lucrezia is marrying a powerful man, she soon discovers her only real power lies in producing an heir. And once that heir is born, what is to become of her?
Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson
This is a memoir unlike anything else your book club has ever read. In Constructing A Nervous System, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and memoirist Margo Jefferson mixes her unique brand of cultural criticism with memoir to explore identity, family inheritance, rage, gender, class, and much more. This book challenges readers’ expectations by defying the conventions of the memoir genre, and it would make for quite an interesting book club chat.
The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Here’s another unforgettable memoir that your book club won’t be able to stop talking about. In this book, Ingrid Rojas Contreras tells the story of her maternal grandfather, who was a curandero, a community healer gifted with the ability to speak with the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. Following in his footsteps, Rojas Contreras’s mother became a fortune teller and was the first woman to inherit the family’s powers. When her grandfather dies, Rojas Contreras joins her mother to disinter her grandfather’s remains. From there, the two women go on a journey back through their family history to their Indigenous and Spanish roots and the origins of their magic.
Fruit Punch by Kendra Allen
Here’s one more must-read memoir coming out for your book club in late summer. Kendra Allen grew up in Dallas, Texas in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Her family dynamics were loving, but intense and incredibly complicated. As she looks back at her personal coming-of-age story, Allen explores what it means to be a young Black woman in the South and how she navigated and balanced the expectations set upon her. Allen’s memoir explores what it means to find oneself, perceptions of beauty, race, gender, and much more.
Looking for more suggestions for your book club? Here are even more book club recommendations for 2022. And if you’re looking for book clubs to join, here are 15 online book clubs to boost your reading.