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Rev Up Your Book Club: Here’s 10 great books to get the conversation going

Kelly Rimmer is the author of Before I Let You Go, published by Hachette Australia. It is the story of a sister who is plunged into the dark and complex world of her pregnant, drug-addicted sister when she receives a call in the dead of night after many years without contact. It’s one of the best psychological dramas we’ve read in a long time.

Read our full review of Before I Let You Go

Words || Kelly Rimmer

The only thing I love more than reading a good book is sitting around with a group of friends discussing a good book, but some book choices lead to discussions that go nowhere. In my group, that generally means the chat falters after a few minutes and we all start talking about the host’s wine choice as if we actually know what the term ‘complex finish’ means. We’re not convincing anyone so that’s best avoided!

xeleanor-oliphant-is-completely-fine.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Z5wUvCDrHCHere are my top 10 books sure to get your discussion group talking about the actual book.

The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult

Weaving a modern-day dilemma with a heartbreaking tale set during World War 2, this book is gripping and well-told, but there are complex layers to it and there’s much to unpack in the way the story unfolds. There’s a moral dilemma playing out in this story too, so don’t be surprised if your book club pals end up in a fierce debate.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

This is a unique story of modern day loneliness, and one that might just have you thinking a little more about that quirky loner at your office. What I loved most about this one is that Gail Honeyman has managed to write a wry and at times very humorous novel in a tender and sensitive way. You’ll find yourself laughing along with Eleanor, but never at her. Your book club will enjoy reflecting on Eleanor and the journey she makes, and discussing the twist at the end.

The Greatest Gift, Rachael Johns

There are some fascinating themes explored in this story around egg donation and motherhood, and because it’s a Rachael John’s book, it’s beautifully written so you’ll enjoy reading it too. Best of all, as soon as you read this one, you’ll want to talk about it. It’s a sure-fire book club winner.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

I read this book in my teens and loved it, although in my adolescent optimism I thought the scenario was far-fetched. The world has changed a lot in the years since – and when I re-read it recently, I was startled to find it doesn’t feel unrealistic anymore. That’s exactly what makes it perfect for a discussion group now.

this-house-of-griefThe Loneliest Girl in The Universe, Lauren James

This is a YA novel but it’s a fantastic book club choice too. Several people had recommended it to me and when I finally downloaded it, I read it in one day…then spent hours staring at my ceiling that night thinking it all through. There’s so much to unpack with your book club – from the brilliant premise to the author’s portrayal of mental illness and then there’s the way the plot evolves…

This House of Grief, Helen Garner

…or anything written by Helen Garner, actually, although this non-fiction title is particularly suited to discussion. The story itself is positively heart-breaking, but Helen’s remarkable recount of the trial will have you asking some big questions about the nature of good and evil, and about the justice system itself.

Tin Man, by Sarah Winman

I’ve been raving about this book since I read it (twice in two days!) last year. It’s a beautiful piece of literature – some sentences are such works of art that you’ll need to pause here and there to appreciate what you just read. What makes this book ripe for discussion is the sheer artistry of the story, and the way that Sarah manages to weave a deeply emotional tale without ever becoming sentimental or sappy.

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee is not just a scientist – he’s a natural-born storyteller. This book is captivating and a relatively easy read, so when you get to the end you’ll be stunned by how much you’ve learned about genetics. There’s a beautiful mix of science and the personal in Siddhartha’s book which makes it quite touching at times. Your book club can then enjoy a debate about nurture-vs-nature and the role our genetics plays in determining out destiny.

50 Shades of Grey, EL James.small-great-things

Do I recommend this novel? No, frankly I couldn’t even convince myself to read far enough into it to get to the juicy parts. Do I think it sets up a great book club meeting? Absolutely. It’s one of the most polarizing books of our generation and there’s a lot here to discuss. Whoever is in your book club, there’s a good chance someone is going to hate it, and someone is going to love it – and that’s always a fun way to start! You can kick off your discussion with “Imagine if Christian Grey was unattractive and poor – is this story still romantic?”And then sit back and watch the debate!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Yes, I am a total Jodi Picoult fan-girl! This is Jodi at her best – a fast-paced, intriguing story that’s easy to devour, but you’ll be turning the issues over in your head for weeks afterwards. There are so many hot-button ideas in this one that it’s sure to get your book club chatting.


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