I’m often asked by book clubs for new ideas of what to read. Last year I published a list of my book club recommendations. As it was so popular, I thought I would share my book club recommendation list with you again this year.
In considering what was important for a book club, I realized you need more than just an excellent book. Book clubs need stories where there are philosophical discussions and moral issues.
These are my recommendations based on the books I have reviewed in the last year. I have presented them in alphabetical order. They span the mystery genre. Several this year are historical mysteries. A few are cozy mysteries. There are some thrillers and even a spy novel in the group this year. Some of these books are by seasoned veteran authors, whose books you can find everywhere. A few are first time authors. There are some who have e-published outstanding books and you can find them only on Amazon or other e-Publishing sites. All of these books got 4 or 5 Star out of 5 star reviews.
1. ‘Diners, Dives and Dead Ends’ by Terri L. Austin
The book explores interesting family dynamics. It also forces us to look at our definition of success.
The characters aren’t all good and bad, but full of shades of gray. The moral issues continue up until the very end of the book. With exploring family dynamics and moral issues, one would expect that this would be a “heavy” book. But I actually found it to be a fast paced read and there were some funny aspects of it too.
2.‘Scrapbook of Secrets’ by Mollie Cox Bryan
Molly Cox Bryan examines in this book a variety of the secrets that people hold. Secrets that cause guilt, shame and possibly murder. Exploring how the characters and society deals with these secrets provides the reader with an extremely thought provoking book
3. ‘Sentinel’ by Matthew Dunn
This is a very thought provoking spy thriller. The spy community apparently world-wide believes that the end justifies the means. The spy community takes the law into their own hands often executing people without the benefit of a trial. In some cases, they were ready to kill someone on a hunch. In many cases this could save lives, maybe many lives. This whole philosophical discussion would make this an excellent book for a book club to discuss. In all fairness it would be a good question for our Congress to discuss as well
4.’No Way Back’ by Andrew Gross
Readers will appreciate the exhilarating thrill ride the book provides. Book clubs can discuss the timely immigration and illegal arms trafficking issues, which includes government sponsored programs like “Fast and Furious” which are woven into the story.
5. ‘The Body in the Boudoir’ by Katherine Hall Page
This book explores many of the issues and pitfalls that young couples experience when trying to unite disparate families. In this case, uniting a New England athletic clan with a more sophisticated New York family. It illustrates, without being preachy, the give and take of a successful engagement and marriage. It navigates the planning and compromises through the wedding process as well. Of course as this is a murder mystery, there may be more pitfalls planning the wedding than the average bride experiences.
6.’A Fine and Dangerous Season’ by Keith Raffel
Keith Raffel in his book ‘A Fine and Dangerous Season,’ addresses two critical October time periods, 1940 before World War 2 and 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the U.S. had to decide whether or not they should enter a war.
Raffel has deftly shown us through both Octobers, that history repeats itself and we are faced with similar situations today.
7. ‘Mozart’s Last Aria’ by Matt Rees
Matt Rees has weaved together a captivating story after having done a great deal of research into the life of Mozart. Much of the story is based on real historical events such as Mozart’s anticipation of his own death and the influence of the Masons during this time.
The book also looks at equality for everyone and women in particular.
8. ‘An Unmarked Grave’ by Charles Todd
‘An Unmarked Grave’ provides an excellent glimpse into the hospital conditions and the problems seen in World War I. It is an interesting view of World War I from a female perspective. While a heavy topic, this is a page turner that is easily read.
9. Read ‘The Unseen’ by Katherine Webb
Through ‘The Unseen’ we learn about the struggles of working class and servant women who are struggling for the right to vote in England in the early 1900s. The book also looks at the religion of Theosophy, which is still active today
10. ‘Elegy for Eddie’ by Jacqueline Winspear
‘Elegy for Eddie’ provides a fascinating look at the issues facing England in the period between World War I and World War II. The book also details the English impressions of Hitler’s coming to power in Germany, especially in light of a country weary of war. Ms. Winspear looks at what happens to people after a war is done.
Philosophical elements are the strength of this book. The realization that life is not black and white but full of shades of gray. In the book they point out that “Everything good has a dark side, even generosity.”
The other main theme, concerns living in the moment.