What’s the best part of a memorable book club meeting? The wine served or the book discussion generated? Be honest. A glass, or two, of a good wine may get a discussion flowing, but for me, a successful meeting comes down to how many different comments and viewpoints surface. Yet, how do you find the perfect book that will make a lasting impression on your group? The stress is real. You want a plot, characters and issues who stay with you. A story you’re not hesitant to blurt out whenever you’re asked for a recommendation.


Through a series of surveys fielded to avid readers and book club members and posts in social media reading groups, I’ve assembled titles which were mentioned multiple times and suggested as promoting great discussions. That doesn’t mean the book was universally liked, but rather there were enough topics to stimulate ideas and opinions. No list is ever complete, but I hope this one helps your club find undiscovered titles to fill in a few months. Sign-up for my newsletter if you'd like to receive updated recommendations based on what my three book clubs are reading each month.

I hope your club will consider The Unlocked Path for one of your selections. It's a great choice for September (Women in Medicine month) or March (Women in History month) or any month when you're looking to read about strong, independent, pioneering women. I'm available to join your club for an author chat in person or via Zoom. I promise a lively discussion and to share more background on how and why I wrote this piece of historical fiction. I have a flyer you can download more information and bring to your next meeting to share with your group. Or sign up HERE to get on my planning calendar. You can also place a request for me to join your group through NovelNetwork, a free service to connect readers with authors. I've noted below which other authors are available.


Compiled with input from active readers representing 60 book clubs across the U.S., here are thirteen titles which were suggested multiple times as top picks read January - June 2023. Lessons in Chemistry continues to remain a top choice.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus Perhaps your group wants to plan a read and watch party. A limited series releases on Apple+ TV starting on October 13.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick. I haven't read this one yet, but the blurb reminds me a bit of another club favorite, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki A good choice for March and Women's History Month.

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid Newest release from ever popular author. Book clubs have also enjoyed Daisy Jones and the Six by Jenkins Reid after the Amazon Prime series released this past spring.

Defending Jacob by William Landay Now an Apple TV mini-series. My club had an extensive discussion around “What would you do?”

Horse by Geraldine Brooks Pull out your fanciest hats and put Horse on your list for May - Kentucky Derby month. Brooks has several other titles book clubs have enjoyed, including March, The Year of Wonders and People of the Book.  

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Change by Kirsten Miller

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. His venture into character development shines in Sam Hell (a personal favorite of mine).

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai I personally loved this one as a wonderful option to explore and understand a different culture combined with the history of Vietnam. Her newest novel has also hit the list of mentions, Dust Child.

The Push by Ashley Audrain 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Staying strong in popularity with the movie release. Always a good idea to read a book first and then see how well the adaption turns out. My book club has enjoyed several movie nights for favorite books complete with themed food (The Help with fried chicken and chocolate pie – just don’t use Minnie’s recipe).


In addition to the authors listed above, several other authors (alphabetic sort) appear multiple times in current and past surveys. One idea is to read a couple by the same author and then compare and contrast. Was each story unique, or did they become formulaic? Has the author’s writing style evolved from earlier works? Which one deserves a sequel? (Tell the author! They love to hear from readers.)

  • Fredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove and Beartown You may want to consider a movie night and pair A Man Called Ove with the release of the movie with Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto.
  • Jodi Picoult – Picoult's newest, Mad Honey, hit the list in 2023. Others mentioned in the past include Mercy, Small Great Things and Wish You Were Here. One of the first books my club read was Picoult's The Pact. I'm still haunted by that one. Her books always prompt great discussions centered around the social issues she explores.

Lady Tan's Circle of Women, June 2023 with the NCL BookEnds at An Unlikely Story, Plainville MA


Need more recommendations?

Book clubs love fiction, especially historical fiction with literary and thrillers rounding out top sub-genres. Non-fiction and memoirs can mix up your choices to broaden topics for discussion and are popular with co-ed clubs. Here are a few more, including a few older titles which may be more readily available from libraries. All books are listed alphabetical, not in any results of voting order, but they have been mentioned many times over the past couple of years I've been compiling these lists.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Doerr's latest, Cloud Cuckoo Land, has also hit the list.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins I sat in on a Zoom author chat with Jeanine and am glad I did. She provided a personal perspective on the controversary which never came through in the press. I was fortunate to join a CA book club discussion over Zoom which made for an even more valuable discussion as I heard from folks who live where the immigrant population from Mexico and South America is more prevalent than in New England.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate  There’s a companion non-fiction book out, too, Before and After.

The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell  I just noticed my son ordered this one via my Amazon account. I'll have to ask him if I can borrow it. (Non-Fiction)

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd Need a choice for the spring around Passover/Easter season? An imagined story about the wife of Jesus will prompt many discussions.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel Evidence that WWII is still popular with readers.

The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson Richardson' best-seller and popular book club choice, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, created a groundswell of demand as readers embraced and enjoyed this well-done sequel.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  Audible version comes highly recommended with Trevor narrating. (Memoir)

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown  Who knew the sport of rowing could be so interesting? Layer in The Depression and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and voila – you bet it is! (Non-fiction)

Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood From the author of The Handmaid's Tale, a collection of essays. (Non-fiction)

By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley Loved this one! My group had a ton of fun dressing up in wedding attire. A wonderful choice for Black History Month (February) or Women's History Month (March). Piper can be requested to join your group for an author chat through NovelNetwork.

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera Highly recommend the Audible version. Also a good choice for May and a Mother's Day celebration.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson  Also a good choice for February and Black History Month. (Non-fiction)

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson (Non-fiction)

Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede- Looking north to our friends in Newfoundland, Canada and their caring actions softens the memories of that tragic day on September 11, 2001. Great choice for September as a remembrance. (Non-fiction)

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano - Napolitano's newest, Hello Beautiful has also hit the list in 2023.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett - Definitely get the audio version if you can. Tom Hanks' narration is perfect, right down to "Chapter Twelve".

Educated by Tara Westover – Lots of discussion stems from learning about her family’s reaction to the book. (Memoir)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman Or is she? I listened on Audible. There's a great scene shift that the narration makes you jump.

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe If you've seen the series Dopesick with Michael Keaton, you may also enjoy this non-fiction book to learn about the Sackler family dynasty.

The Essay by Robin Yokum

Finding Freedom, A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French (Memoir)

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Meyers- Consider a compare and contrast exercise and read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - Similarities between Educated and Hillbilly Elegy. (Memoir)

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Guncle by Steven Rowley Another new favorite and great choice for June, Pride Month.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell - A personal favorite. Maybe toss in a re-read of Shakespeare's Hamlet, too

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford A personal favorite. I heard Jamie speak at the Historical Novel Society conference in June 2023. He's a delight. If you're on Twitter, search for tweets by high school students after they were assigned the book. Hysterical.

House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson Don't miss Yellow Wife, also by Sadeqa. Sadeqa can be requested to join your group for an author chat through NovelNetwork.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Last Child by John Hart

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan. I highly recommend this one, too. My husband and I listened to it on Audible and it captivated us every one of our 1,500-mile car trip. Sullivan's prior novel, Beneath a Scarlet Sky has also been a top choice by book clubs. Mark can be requested to join your group for an author chat through NovelNetwork.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks Dalton

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly The first in a trilogy about the Woosley-Ferriday women. Martha can be requested to join your group for an author chat through NovelNetwork.

The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner Sarah's first novel, The Lost Apothecary, has also been a hit with book clubs.

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray by Dorothy Love

The Maid by Nita Prose

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (Memoir)

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner Personally, I love all of Meissner's work in historical fiction. Her Fall of Marigolds is a poignant dual timeline of 1911 and 2011 centered in New York City, featuring Ellis Island and 9-11. A good choice for September. Add some fun and have a door prize using a beautiful scarf with a marigold print. I wouldn't be surprised to see her latest, Only the Beautiful, added to this list later in 2023. Susan can be requested to join your group for an author chat through NovelNetwork.

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger I personally also enjoyed Krueger's, This Tender Land.

Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. Benedict continues to be a book club favorite author. Other titles by her often mentioned include: The Only Woman in the Room to The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and The Other Einstein. The Personal Librarian would be a great choice for a club’s February meeting during Black History Month to learn more about Belle daCosta Greene, a black woman who passes as white to secure and keep a position as J.P. Morgan’s librarian for his private collection.

Pushing the Bear, A Novel of the Trail of Tears by Diane Glancy

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Non-fiction) If you're ready to get angry at big business and at the same time be thankful for the women who advocated and fought for workers' rights to safety in the workplace, read Radium Girls.

Raising a Rare Girl by Heather Lanier (Memoir)

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Crosby

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt Whoever would have thought an octopus would steal the hearts of millions?

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – One of my Top Ten favorites of all time. I wish we still had red tents.

The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright

The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts. Who would have thought two books centered around horses would make the best of list? Maybe so many book club members, like me, went through a horse phase when they were younger. Another great choice from Letts - Finding Dorothy. 

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Solito by Javier Zamora (Memoir)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin A delightful story and the movie adaption is pretty good, too. Zevin's Young Jane Young has also made the list.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner- How a blurb can draw you in…”The thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children.” A polygamist family in rural Mexico – sure to be an incredible discussion. (Memoir)

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan - Plan a trip to Savannah with your group. My online club has discussed it as an idea. We’re spread across the States and Canada. Would be a great way to meet in person.

The Survivors by Jane Harper

There, There by Tommy Orange

This is Happiness by Niall Williams

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This Is Not a Book about Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan (Memoir)

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

The Unknown Beloved by Amy Harmon

The Unlocked Path by Janis Robinson Daly I swear - I did not suggest my own book! A member of a book club I spoke with recommended it. I'd love to join your group for an author chat. You can place a request through NovelNetwork.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Pair with The Personal Librarian for February, Black History Month

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

The Violence Project by Jillian Peterson (Non-fiction)

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride

The Wedding by Dorothy West

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge - Also a newer entry. Definitely a lighter read about the Depression, especially compared to Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds which has been a popular pick, too.

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

You Don't Belong Here by Elizabeth Becker



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