Our Book Club List - 'Going Grey'
Updated: Mar 8
I had promised to share my book club’s list a couple of blogs ago. But, I wasn’t sure the best way to do it, so I decided to follow my instinct and put it into a blog format.
First, I should tell you a bit about my book club and why we chose the books on the list. It started around 1997 when my friend, Laurie and I were considering the empty nest years ahead and new pursuits as our family time freed up. Never wanting to micromanage our kids' lives, hounding them at college was not an option. We were both still quite involved at work, and looking for easy evening activities. One of our mutual frustrations, was our limited reading over recent years while we balanced day-to-day commitments - at that time, reading was reserved for adult vacations. A book club was a natural fit - it would engage us in steady reading and every month blend in a social time discussing the book and sharing a meal with friends - nothing too heavy or academic.
The group started out with about a dozen of us (all women close in age) and over the years, some stayed and some left - to be replaced with friends of friends. Some newcomers tried it once and left but most stayed on for years. We have coalesced into a very tight group of women in their mid 60’s to early 70’s with amazing life stories. Like an AA meeting, we have an understanding that the private memories shared in connection to book themes are for our ears only. Our books have evoked deeply buried and painful family secrets and some very funny and personal stories as well. Through this, we have become a special group of friends.
We started meeting before book clubs were popular, nowhere near as commonplace as they are today. Kindles were not yet invented, so we read mostly hard covered books - since in the beginning, we chose first novels by new authors. We didn’t stick to that format for too long and eventually built our selections from recommendations of friends, other book clubs or books we were currently reading outside of the group and really liked. We always have a facilitator who does a little background on the author and book. Typically, she can barely get a word in edgewise and can find herself feeling more like a sheepdog than a meeting facilitator - our members seem to have a lot to share....
We typically meet at one of our homes around mealtime, but when it is too busy, we pick a quiet restaurant. On occasion, we have attended an 'author talk' in lieu of meeting, and a few years back when the New York Times hosted author panels, we attended those. That is where we discovered Julie Orrenger (Invisible Bridge). On several occasions, we have even hosted the authors in conjunction with their books.
As a self-proclaimed foodie, I would say that we are pretty good cooks and so we enjoy holding our meetings around mealtime. Some of us try to connect our menu to the culture of the book (that has led to some cooking disasters) and others are less adventuresome and stick with tried and true recipes (me), but we all leave stated with food, new ideas and the warmth of friends.
We have tried to name our bookclub several times, but never could agree upon a label. But, for fun, I have included a suggestion above and would like to bounce it off the group.
This list is approximately correct and I hope I have every author’s name ‘spelt' correctly. It is in chronological order - our most recent selections are on the bottom. Most of our choices I would recommend, although in retrospect, not all were ideal for a book club discussion.
Do you have a bookclub? Any good suggestions for a great read? Do you have a name?
Katherine Graham Personal History, Catherine Graham
White Oleander, Janet Fitch
Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg
The Reader,Bernhard Schlink
The Sorcerer and the Stone, JR Rowling
The HoursMichael CunninghamMrs DallowayVirginia WolfeDivine Secrets of the Ya Ya SisterhoodRebecca WellsBee SeasonMyla GoldbergWhile I Was GoneSue MillerMidwivesChris BohjalianA Man in FullTom WolfeBlondeJoyce Carol OatesInterpreter of the MaladiesJhumpa LahariThe Blind AssassinMargaret AtwoodThe Red TentAnita DiamanteDrowning RuthChristina SchwarzThe Bonesetter's DaughterAmy TamThe Samurai's GardenGail TsukiyamaGirl With the Pearl EarringTracy ChevalierThe OutlanderDiane GabaldonThe Poisonwood BibleBarbara KingsolverThe Ladies AuxiliaryTova MirvusBack When We Were GrownupsAnne TylerThe Girls Guide to Hunting and FishingMelissa BankHouse of Sand and FogAndre Dubus IIIThe Jew StoreStella SupermanRiver Cross My HeartBreena ClarkeThe Prodigal SummerBarbara KingsolverThe CorrectionsJonathan FranzenTrans Sister RadioChris BohjalianPortrait in SepiaIsabelle AllendeAtonementIan McEwanLove in the Time of CholoraGrarcia MarquezThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and ClayMichael ChabonEmperor of Ocean ParkStephen CarterOne Thousand White Women Jim FergusA Fine BalanceRohinton MistryLife of PiYann MartelBalzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressDai SijieLovely BonesAlice SeboldThree JunesJulia GlassName All The AnimalsAlison SmithBell CantosAnn PatchettEverything is IlluminatedJonathan Safran FoerThe Secret Life of BeesSue Monk KiddThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the NighttimeMark HaddonThe Painted BirdJerzy KozinskiThe Confessions of Max TivoliAndrew Sean GreerInterpreterSuki KimThe Kite RunnerKhaled HosseiniA Yellow Raft in Blue WaterMichael DorrisThe Dogs of BabelCarolyn ParkhurstThe Plot Against AmericaPhilip RothThe Devil in the White CityEric LarsonDevil in the DetailsJennifer TraigShadow BabyAlison McGheeRunawayAlice MunroGileadMarilynne RobinsonA Thread of GraceMary Doria RussellLost in the ForestSue MillerO'PioneersWilla CatherThe Master Butcher's Singing ClubLouise ErdrichA Tale of Love and DarknessAmos OzThe History of LoveNicole KraussThe Distant Land of My FatherBo CaldwellThe Tender BarRJ MoehringerThe Shadow and the WindCarlos Ruiz ZafonSnowflower and the Secret FanLisa SeeBelovedToni MorrisonWater For ElephantsSara GruenMiddlesex The End of the World As we Know It (prepub)Robert GoolrickDriving with Dead People (prepub)Monica HollowayJourney From the land of NoRoya HakakianA Long Way Gone, A Soldier's StoryIshmael BeahGlass CastleJennette WallsA Thousand Splendid SunsKhaled HosseiniSuite FrancaiseIrene NemirovskyThe Septembers of ShirazDalia SoferRed WaterJudith FreemanThe Magician's AssistantAnn PatchettStonerJohn WilliamsDisgracedJM CoetzeeBlindnessJose SaramagoUnaccustomed EarthJumpa LahiriThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJunot DiazThe Richest SeasonMaryann McFaddenThe Red Leather DiaryLily Koppel The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel SocietyShaffer/BarrowsPersepolisMarjane SatrapiReluctant FundamentalistMoshin HamidNorwegian WoodHaruki MurakamiA MercyToni MorrisonGrapes of WrathSteinbackA Tree Grows in BrooklynBetty SmithPeople of the BookGeraldine BrooksThe HelpKatheryn StockettThe Great Literary Conversation Olive KitteridgeElizabeth StroutCutting for StoneAbraham VerghesePerfectionJulie MetzShort History of WomenKate WalbertPlain TruthJodie PiccoltToo Much HappinessAlice MunroThe Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel BarberyThe Girl with the Dragon TatooStieg LarssonLittle BeeChris CleaveThe PostmistressSusan BlakeThe Great Literary Conversation 2010NY Time Bldg, NYCFreedomJonathan FranzenThe Invisible BridgeJulie OrringerThe Widower's TaleJulia GlassZeitounDavid EggersThe Tiger's WifeTea ObrehtThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksRebecca SkootA Visit from the Goon SquadJennifer EganThe Paris WifePaula McLainMudboundHillary JordanNY Times annual pilgrimage Caleb's CrossingGeraldine BrooksThe DovekeepersAlice HoffmanNothing to Envy:Ordinary Lives in North KoreaBarbara DemickSecret Daughter: A NovelShilpi Somaya GowdaThe Marriage PlotJeffrey EugenidesIn the Garden of the BeastsErik LarsonOnce We Were BrothersRonald Balsonthe Lion is InEphron, DeliaThe Lost WifeAlyson RickmanThe NewlywedsNell FreudenbergerDefending JacobWilliam LandayMajor Pettigrow's Last StandHelene Simonson Gone Girl The Hare with the Amber EyesWaal, EdmundUnbrokenLaura HildenbrandDear LifeAlice Monro12 Tribes of HattieAyana MathisThe DinnerHerman KochWildCheryl StrayedThe Girl Who Fell From the SkyHeidi DurrowThe Light Between OceansML StedmanThe Art of Hearing HeartbeatsJan-Philipp SendkerAnd the Mountains Echoed Khaled HosseiniPerlaCarolina DeRobertsA Teaspoon of Earth and SeaDina NayeriA Husband's SecretLiane MortiarilyThe Invention of WingsSusan Monk KiddStill Life with BreadcrumbsAnna QuindlanThe Valley of AmazementAmy TanAmericanahChimamanda Ngozi AdichieYou Should Have KnownJean KorelitzThe PainterPeter HellerAll the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony DoerrThe Human StainPhilip RothThis is the Story of a Happy MarriageAnn PatchettThe Boys in the BoatDaniel BrownMe Before YouJojo MoyesThe Dead WakeErik LarsonAutobiography of a FaceLucy GrealyThe Fall of MarigoldsSusan MeissnerWe are WaterWally LambMy Brilliant FriendElena FerranteCircling the Sunpaula McLainThe Paris ArchitectCharles BelfoureMrs EngleGavin McCreaThe Rosie Projectgraeme SimsionThe Gift of RainTan Twan EngThe Improbability of LoveHannah RothchildJapanese LoverIsabelle AllendeThe Short and Tragic Life of Robert PeaceJeff HobbsThe Girls Emma ClineGirl at WarSara NovicThe Underground RailroadColeson WhiteheadThe Paris ApartmentClaudia StrasserMoonglowMichael ChabonThe Girl Who Wrote in SilkKelli EstesA Gentleman in MoscowAmor TowlesHillbilly ElegyJD VanceAn American MarriageTayari JonesThe Italian TeacherTom RachmanPachinkoMin Jin LeeSing Unburied SingJesmynWardBorn to RunBruce SpringsteinLincoln in the BardoGeorge SaundersThe Weight of InkRachel KadishThe AnimatorsKayla Rae WhitakerFates and FuriesLauren GroffExit WestMahsin HamidThe LeaversLisa KoThe Improbability of LoveHanna RothchildThe Human StainPhilip RothA Place for UsFatima MirzaA Matter of ChanceJulie MaloneyCirceMadeline MillerA Tale of Love and DarknessAmos OzWhere the Crawdads SingDeella OwensWe are the MulvaneysJoyce Carol OatesEducatedTara WestoverTatooist of AuschwitzHeather MorrisStoryteller's SecretSejal Badani