This year readers have turned to books and their book clubs for not just entertainment but much-needed community. Whether you’re connecting on line or in person—or simply looking for stimulating reads—these new book club-worthy picks will get you thinking and talking.
We list the newest picks from well-known clubs, our Amazon Editors’ favorites, the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award, and Bill Gates’ newest reading recommendations. And even if your book club is on a holiday hiatus, you’ll be able to come to the next meeting with a new book—or six!—to recommend.
A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett
The Amazon Books Editors picked A Knock at Midnight as the Best Book of 2020, and it’s a story of both justice and injustice that will get your book club talking. Said Amazon senior editor Al Woodworth about Barnett’s gripping memoir, “At times, this reads like page-turning crime fiction; at others, a galvanizing and redemptive portrait of a lawyer trying to defend Black lives that were never protected in the first place. Urgent, necessary—and a knockout read.” Don’t forget to browse all our picks for the Best Books of 2020.
The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell'Antonia
Reese Witherspoon picked this funny novel of competing chicken restaurants in a small Kansas town for her December book club, and it’s a lovely, lighthearted read that is easy to squeeze in among all the competing pressures of the holiday season. The tense relationship between two very different sisters and their hard-to-please mother drives the emotion in this novel, while their bad decisions—made for all the best reasons—will spark laughs. Bonus: It’s also available in paperback.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Philyaw’s nine stories that span four generations of Black women and girls not only won a finalist’s spot for the National Book Awards but was named the December pick of the Well Read Black Girls book club. These stories delve into the tension between the expectations at church and who women really are. Senior Amazon editor Al Woodworth said about this book, “The stories of these women and their friendships come alive, beating with tenderness and imperfection, and build upon one another to create a beautiful melody of female determination.” Follow @wellreadblackgirlbp on Instagram to see their book club picks as they are named.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Goodreads members voted Haig’s The Midnight Library as the top book of 2020 in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and this story of a woman who explores the various twists and turns her life could have taken has won the hearts of thousands of readers. Said senior editor Vannessa Cronin, “With insights both simple and profound, The Midnight Library will coax readers to contemplate regret, the choices we make, and taking the bitter with the sweet.” Get your book club talking with a lively discussion about the roads not taken and unexpected life lessons.
Bill Gates recently named “five good books for a lousy year,” and while there are a lot of great picks there (The New Jim Crow and The Splendid and the Vile, among others), the one that caught my eye is Breath from Salt. This is the year that everyone became an amateur scientist, studying COVID positivity rates and debating vaccines, and the heartening story of medical innovation in Breath from Salt really resonates. Said Gates about this book, “I suspect we’ll see many more books like this in the coming years, as biomedical miracles emerge from labs at an ever-greater pace.”
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
TODAY show host Jenna Bush Hager recommends a much-loved and heartrending novel from Toni Morrison for her December pick for her #ReadWithJenna book club. First published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is the story of a Black girl named Pecola Breedlove, who yearns to have blue eyes so she will be seen as beautiful and therefore worthwhile, after being told through words and actions that she’s worthless as she is. Ask your book club what has changed and what has stayed the same in the 50 years since Morrison’s novel was first published.
As readers have turned to books and their book clubs for not just entertainment but community, these reads are sure to get the conversation flowing.