Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: On my way to the ACFW conference, Denver, Colo.
It should come as no surprise that influential books are the best books for book clubs. When an author writes a book that speaks to the reader’s heart, serious readers want to get together to talk about how the author accomplished such a feat.
Here are the top five book club books right now (according to bookmovement.com):
#1) The Help by Kathryn Stockett
#2) One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
#3) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
#4) In the Woods by Tana French
#5) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
All five of these books tell a unique story, but each story has a deeper reason to be told. The themes and theses of these books are what give the stories the depth that leaves room for discussion.
The Help, for example, tells the story of three women in 1967 Mississippi, who come together to produce a story revealing the true-life stories from the hired help of their community. The people in the community where these women live read the book, and while the stories shock them and they gossip about the stories in the book, they don’t let the book have a profound affect on the way they live. The ideas of equality, friendship, and community in The Help don’t just apply to the characters. The stories of these women touch the reader, and the community’s lack of a meaningful response to the book the women put together challenges the reader to let the stories affect her life.
Books like this can break down lines and boundaries the reader has established in her own life. They can force the reader to look at her life and evaluate it because, while the stories are specific , the principles in the stories are universal.
Though I haven’t read it yet, One Thousand White Women sounds like a fascinating read. It’s the story of one white woman who’s sent as part of a movement by the U.S. government under President Grant to marry into the Cheyenne Indian tribe. The goal was to help the Cheyenne tribe to assimilate into the white society. You can see just by this description that this story also covers deep-rooted, universal ideas like equality, community, acceptance, etc. while reflecting on decisions made in the past that were unfair to so many. I can’t imagine that the brides or the Cheyenne tribe were very happy about this plan to “help” the Indians.
Firefly Lane covers principles like friendship, relationships, trust and love.
In the Woods is a mystery, and it looks as if the main focus is on overcoming real-life horrors and tragedies that have occurred in our lives.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society focuses on relationships and also on dealing with stressful times that our out of our control.
These stories are multi-faceted and cover deep topics that would allow for quite a bit of discussion. What other books have you read that would make good book club books? What are the main topics or principles in those books?