One of the hazards of hosting a book club is members just showing up for the (cheap) wine. If you find that your club is hitting the Two-Buck Chuck too hard, it might be your book selections. Here are a handful of reads sure to spark lively discussion.
Giving readers a behind-the-scenes peek from both sides of the couch, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a witty, relatable, moving homage to the therapeutic process. While clinicians are required to see a counselor as part of their training, celebrated psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb enlists an experienced ear when an unexpected breakup lays her flat. Working through her issues with the enigmatic “Wendell” helps Gottlieb process her pain, but it also hones her professional skills; after all, a good therapist possesses the ability to empathize with their patients. Gottlieb chronicles in funny, frustrating, heartbreaking, and profoundly inspiring detail the issues four of her own patients are working through during the same time period, and, like Gottlieb, you will see yourselves in them. So take a good swig of that cheap wine, have a Kleenex box handy, and dish about the comedy and tragedy of the human condition.
Discussion topics: Therapy, the human condition
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
The Yoo family are Korean immigrants plying an unusual trade, running a pressurized oxygen chamber participants use in the hopes of improving conditions ranging from autism to infertility. When a horrific explosion at the facility leaves two dead, the case against the alleged culprit is not as open and shut as it first appears.... Angie Kim’s intricately plotted courtroom thriller isn’t a conventional whodunit where the bad guy is eventually unmasked and the reader closes the book with righteous satisfaction. Kim has weaved a more complicated web than that, one that ensnares characters many readers will empathize with — well-meaning but flawed, doing foolish things for noble reasons. You’ll be asking each other: How far would you go to help your family?
Discussion topics: Family, motherhood, psychology of immigrants, experimental medical treatments
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
Newlywed Isra thought life would be different when she immigrated to the United States from Palestine, but her dreams were quickly dashed. You’ll need to steel yourself the more you delve into Etaf Rum’s A Woman Is No Man, which follows Isra’s journey, and that of her daughter Deya. The clash between dual cultures creates much of the drama, as Deya tries to do what her mother ultimately couldn’t — break free from their family’s violent, misogynistic past and forge her own path in life. While A Woman Is No Man is a rallying cry to resist patriarchal strictures designed to keep women in “their place,” it is also a love letter to books and their transformative power. Reading is one of the only comforts, and acts of rebellion, that Isra enjoys, and she has a particular affinity for literary heroine Scheherazade: “For a thousand and one nights [her] stories were resistance. Her voice was a weapon — a reminder of the extraordinary power of stories, and even more, the strength of a single woman.”
Discussion topics: Patriarchy, cultural expectations and taboos, domestic violence, the power of books
Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir by Jayson Greene
We all process grief in different ways. For Jayson Greene, who lost his two-year-old daughter due to a freak accident, it was to take pen to paper. The result is Once More We Saw Stars, a memoir so moving and powerful, it “[restores Greta] ever-so-briefly to the world.” There are many prospective readers out there thinking, Nope! Not going there (especially if you’re a parent). The thing is, none of us are immune to experiencing profound loss, and it can be just as healing to read Greene’s words — and talk about the emotions it conjures — as it was for him to write them.
Discussion topics: Loss, grief, marriage
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Annika and Jonathan are each other’s person (in Grey’s Anatomy parlance). So when the quirky librarian and handsome financier reunite in the frozen foods section of a grocery after a 10-year separation, you wonder how their relationship could have gone off the rails. In Tracey Garvis Graves’ unconventional rom-com read, The Girl He Used to Know, they try to find their way back to each other again. But first they’ll have to confront a painful episode from their past, and Jonathan will come to realize that Annika is no longer the girl he used to know (and that’s not such a bad thing).
Discussion topics: Second-chance romance, unconditional love, autism
This article was originally published on Amazon Charts on July 17, 2019.
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