As autumn begins, book clubs that went on summer hiatus are restarting. And many who prefer lighter reading in the summer are now searching for meatier novels to sink their teeth into.
These seven excellent books will give you something to talk and think about this season.
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
Named both an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Good Morning America Book Club pick, this debut novel is set in post-World War II Japan and centers on Noriko Kamiza, the love child of her married, aristocratic mother and an African American soldier. Says Amazon senior editor Erin Kodicek about this reader-pleaser: “You will root for Nori, her resilient spirit, and her determination to assert her own identity and live life on her own terms. Asha Lemmie has written a rousing and addictive debut you won’t want to miss.”
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gyasi’s sophomore novel wowed Jenna Bush Hager at TODAY, and she named it a #ReadWithJenna book pick for its story of a PhD candidate who studies addiction and depression in mice, even as her own family’s struggle with those illnesses surrounds her. The Amazon Books editors also loved this book, as we did Gyasi’s debut, Homegoing. Says Amazon senior editor Chris Schluep about Transcendent Kingdom, “There are differences between Gyasi’s first two novels, but both are inhabited by characters that are multi-dimensional and real. And both are brilliant.”
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Both a Well Read Black Girl book club pick and Reese Witherspoon’s first pick for Reese’s YA Book Club, Johnson’s novel centers on a determined high schooler. When Liz’s financial aid for college falls through, she goes to plan B: the scholarship given to the prom king and prom queen. Fast-paced and funny, You Should See Me in a Crown will remind readers of their high school days and high school loves. Listen to Amazon senior editor Seira Wilson talk with author Leah Johnson on the Amazon Book Review podcast, available via iTunes and TuneIn.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Oprah, the ultimate queen of book clubs, named Wilkerson’s nonfiction book her last book club pick, and the Amazon editors selected Caste as one of the Best Books of the Month as well. Wilkerson shows that the U.S. is built on an unwritten but subconsciously recognized caste system—one established during the centuries of slavery but never truly overturned, with Black people at the bottom, white people at the top, and Asians, Latinx, and Indigenous people in the middle. This thought-provoking read is sure to inspire discussion and soul searching.
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
McConaghy’s novel of a woman who finds herself while tracking the migration of Artic terns from pole to pole grabbed the attention of Amazon senior editor Al Woodworth, who says, “Migrations is confessional, intimate and one of the best books I’ve read this year.” The Audible editors also selected Migrations as one of their favorite listens of August, calling out narrator Barrie Kreinik’s “Irish accent and subtly powerful performance.” A great pick for those who love stories that span the globe and delve deep into the heart.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Keane’s novel of two intertwined families who must learn forgiveness was selected as one of the Amazon editors’ Best Books of the Year in 2019, and it’s now available in paperback—a requirement for some book clubs. “Mary Beth Keane is a fantastic writer. She has the kind of authorial magic that makes her characters appear in the imagination as complete, fully realized human beings,” says Amazon editor Chris Schluep about this book that was also named the Tonight Show Summer Reads Pick in 2019.
For book clubs who enjoy nonfiction but can get bogged down by longer books, I Will Never See the World Again is a perfect and powerful pick. Imprisoned in Turkey through trumped-up charges, writer Ahmet Altan faces the reality of life in prison. While moments are heartrending, there is sharp humor here too. I Will Never See the World Again will awaken readers to the luminous strength of creative passion in even the worst circumstances. (Also available in paperback.)
Looking to spark new life in your book club—or just looking for a good read? These books will do the trick.