It's a point of pride: picking the one book everyone in your book club swoons over. Perhaps it's a bit like the ivory-billed woodpecker — something so rare that we're not even sure it still exists —but you can't help but try. If you're anything like me, you have a sick need to be the valedictorian of everything: organizing the laundry room, go-cart racing, and of course, picking that awesome book for book club that had everyone in tears (both laughter and mourning).
Here are some classic book club picks, along with some new releases, that will have the girls raising their wine glasses to toast your impeccable taste:
Bossypants by Tina Fey: Smart, short and laugh-til-wine-comes-out-your-nose funny, you have to try really hard not to like Bossypants. Half memoir, half how-to life manual, Fey's book includes a prayer for her teenage daughter, my favorite line of which is: "May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers." Read it. Now.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: You'd need a shoehorn to stuff any more estrogen into this biblical novel. The Red Tent tells the first-person story of Dinah, beginning with the story of her four mothers (her father, Jacob, has four wives), and then on to Dinah's story. "Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate, immediate connection," says Amazon.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: "Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book," said Publisher's Weekly. Agreed. This is a lovely, fast read, especially for animal lovers. Make a night of it, and watch the movie after the book discussion.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Another one to read before you see the movie. This page turner of a book has a plot unlike any other I've read: it uses diary enteries and quick-change surprises to keep you guessing until the very end. My book club was divided on it; several of them found both the main characters unlikable (which of course doesn't mean it's not a good book). Seriously, this book is so much fun, you'll want to talk all about it with someone once you're done.
Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed: I could go into great detail about how amazing this collection of essays is, how well-written, smart, achingly honest & funny I found it — but I won't. Because for some reason whenever someone tells me, "OMG it's the best book/movie/thing ever!," suddenly it's completely ruined for me (I still don't see what the big deal about Slumdog Millionaire is), and that is the LAST thing I want for you. So just read the book. Need more convincing? Read NYMag's The Self-Help Book Women Love to Give Each Other.
In the end, of course there is no one book that everyone loves. But isn't that the beauty of book club? Getting to read books that you don't love, but that you're better off for having read?
What book have you picked that knocked it out of the park in your book club? Leave it in the comments below.