25 Best Books for a Book Club: Novels Your Friends Will Love

Discover our guide with the best books for a book club; from fantasy to romance, we’ve got a recommendation perfect for every bookworm.

Interested in finding the latest best books for a book club? Sometimes it can feel challenging to find a fascinating read that’s not just the same old book club fare. Gathered readers may want to try something fun, different, challenging, or mysterious – where should you begin?

Try some of the best historical fiction books, or look at our expertly crafted list in this guide! I’ve picked favorites for book club nominations, focusing on recent releases and exciting titles that will get people talking, no matter what genre you decide.

Here Are The 25 Best Books For A Book Club

1. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, Lara Love Hardin, and Bryan Stevenson

The Sun Does Shine is a true story that covers the incredible story of Anthony Ray Hinton, who, at 29 years old, was charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. He spent the next 30 years on Death Row….until the work of civil right attorney Bryan Stevenson helped prove his innocence and set him free. The real-life memoir covers Hinton’s struggle on Death Row and how he found beauty and hope in the darkest places. You might also enjoy our list of the best literary realism books.

The Sun Does Shine is a true story that covers the incredible story of Anthony Ray Hinton, who, at 29 years old, was charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. He spent the next 30 years on Death Row….until the work of civil right attorney Bryan Stevenson helped prove his innocence and set him free. The real-life memoir covers Hinton’s struggle on Death Row and how he found beauty and hope in the darkest places. If you enjoyed our round-up of the best books for a book club, we have many more educational articles you can check out. You might want to check out our list of the best literary realism books.

 “…the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, but justice needs help. Justice only happens when good people take a stand against injustice. The moral arc of the universe needs people to support it as it bends.”

Anthony Ray Hinton, Lara Love Hardin, and Bryan Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine

2. A House Between Earth and Moon by Rebecca Scherm

If you find typical “book club pick” to be a little too much alike over time, A House Between Earth and Moon has you covered: Scientist Alex is offered a one-time opportunity to prove his algae can save the world from climate change…but he has to separate from his loved ones and live aboard an orbiting space station. The result is a family torn by science, climate disaster, big data conspiracies, and more: Will they survive what comes?

“Alex had been in space for only six days when Carl Bouchet, who was a real astronaut, told him to put on his suit and go outside.”

Rebecca Scherm, A House Between Earth and Moon

3. Punching the Air by Ibi Zobol and Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam
Yusef Salaam via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Punching the Air is a YA must-read that found its way onto an incredible number of bestsellers and award lists for a good reason. The fictional story follows teenager Amal Shahid, a striving poet wrongly imprisoned by an unjust, uncaring, and cruel system. He fights back with the only tools he has – words, art, and the knowledge of the truth. It combines moving poetry and prose to create a powerful read.

 “When you find yourself in dark places, there’s always a light somewhere in that darkness, and even if that light is inside of you, you can illuminate your own darkness by shedding that light on the world.”

Ibi Zobol and Yusef Salaam, Punching the Air

4. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Book lovers will appreciate this comforting YA fantasy: The Cat Who Saved Books which follows a high school student who inherits a secondhand book shop. In this tale, he finds that he has also inherited a demanding magical cat named Tiger who sends him on a quest to save lost and mistreated books. Each adventure has its own maze of challenges, growing increasingly perilous for the boy and his cat.

“Books can’t live your life for you. The reader who forgets to walk on his own two feet is like an old encyclopedia, his head stuffed with out-of-date information. Unless someone else opens it up, it’s nothing but a useless antique.”

Sosuke Natsukawa, The Cat Who Saved Books

5. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Imbolo Mbue
Imbolo Mbue via Wikipedia, Public Domain

A buzzworthy debut, Behold the Dreamers is about Jende Jonga and his African immigrant family in Harlem. Jonga is lucky enough to land a job as a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers – a little before its shocking collapse. The result is a complex look at poverty, privilege, and love, making it a favorite for book clubs for several years.

“People in this country, always worrying about how to eat, they pay someone good money to tell them: Eat this, don’t eat that. If you don’t know how to eat, what else can you know how to do in this world?”

Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers

6. Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Xochitl Gonzalez
Xochitl Gonzalez via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The sleeper hit Olga Dies Dreaming quickly became one of the most recommended book club reads of 2022. It covers the lives of on-the-rise brother and sister Olga and Pedro, who are finding success in New York City. But as their stars rise, the mother who abandoned them many years ago returns after Hurricane Maria shattered Puerto Rico. The resulting fallout has the siblings questioning their political and romantic dreams.  

 “She wanted to know the size and shape of the hole that had been left in his heart that required so many objects to fill it. She found herself envious that he had identified something to pack it with.”

Xochitl Gonzalez, Olga Dies Dreaming

7. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Matt Haig
Matt Haig via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In The Midnight Library, Nora Seed somehow finds her way to the mystical Midnight Library, which contains all her pasts and futures of her, each path marked by a different regret. Can she find the answers here to her questions about changing her career, redoing her love life, and finding real fulfillment? This easy read has something for everyone with an overall message of hope.

“But it is not lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

8. The Devil and Miss Prynn by Paulo Coehlo

Paulo Coehlo
Paulo Coehlo via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Coehlo brings another brilliant modern-day fairy tale to life with The Devil and Miss Prynn which takes an intimate look at temptation. A stranger shows up at a remote mountain village with a bag of gold, ready to experiment with the villagers’ lives. He wants to challenge the notions of good, evil, religion, and what matters – but perhaps he will face surprises of his own.

“People want to change everything and, at the same time, want it all to remain the same.”

Paulo Coehlo, The Devil and Miss Prynn

9. The Leopard Is Loose by Stephen Harrigan

Stephen Harrigan
Stephen Harrigan via Wikipedia, Public Domain

A heartbreaking coming-of-age story, The Leopard Is Loose follows a five-year-old boy in 1952. He knows something is wrong following World War 2 but struggles to understand the grief, PTSD, and pain that the war created even now that it’s over. However, the escape of a leopard from a nearby zoo helps him quickly learn how complex his world is – and what he can do about it.

“Like any children, we accepted the world we were born into without a thought. In our case, it was a world whose center was a mother who was—I realize now—still unsteady from grief and shock.”

Stephen Harrigan, The Leopard Is Loose

10. The Night Shift by Alex Finlay

Alex Finlay
Alex Finlay via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Night Shift is a good fit for more upbeat book clubs who can’t wait to read to the end. Fifteen years ago, at the dawn of the year 2000, four teenagers were attacked at a Blockbuster, with only one surviving and no suspect ever caught. The same thing happened again in 2015, with only one survivor. The old and new survivors must unite and help to solve the gruesome murders before they continue.

“In the movies, the detectives always end up interviewing witnesses at a strip club, and it seemed like it would be pretty cool. But this is awful.”

Alex Finlay, The Night Shift

11. Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings
Alex Jennings via Wikipedia, Public Domain

In Ballad of Perilous Graves, you are welcomed into the riotous magical version of New Orleans, where songs are living beings, and the undead have their quarter. But something sinister is threatening this version of New Orleans and versions in all other realities. Now the powerful Graves family and brave strangers from other worlds must unite to save them all from the coming storm.

“Perry frowned and shut his eyes, listening more closely. He could hear it. At first the tone of the music reminded him of water, and it was still liquid, but now he imagined a bit of darkness and blood mixed in. He saw flowers unfurling to catch rain in a storm.”

Alex Jennings, Ballad of Perilous Graves

12. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

The thought-provoking How High We Go in the Dark will do the trick if your book club wants to be challenged. In the future, climate change will uncover a deadly evolutionary virus that will destroy and transform humanity for ages to come. The book is divided into a series of stories examining how humans (and other creatures) approach impending death.

“Opportunities are like little seeds floating in the wind. Your life is there. Some people have a big net to collect them all. Other people need to pray that the right seeds, the best ones, make their way to them with just enough bad ones to appreciate the good.”

Sequoia Nagamatsu, How High We Go in the Dark

13. Anthem by Noah Hawley

Noah Hawley
Noah Hawley via Wikipedia, Public Domain
via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Anthem is a captivating book that’s better read than described, and it may also be the best Americana novel in years. It’s a magical and modern tale of forces at work across America, family tragedy, and battles between creatures like The Prophet and The Wizard.

“Everybody has a theory, Judge Nadir has come to believe. A conviction, dogged and tenacious, which they refuse to surrender. This is the American way.”

Noah Hawley, Anthem

14. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke
Susanna Clarke via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) returns to the literary world with a striking, poetic read: Piranesi is about a man without a past trapped in an endless, enormous stone house. The seas and tides take the bottom floors. The top floors are broken open to the stars and clouds. Everywhere, mysterious statues tower. But Piranesi loves his home…until a series of strange meetings makes him question everything he knows.

“The House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end.”

Susanna Clarke, Piranesi

15. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr via Wikipedia, Public Domain

All the Light We Cannot See is a tale of historical fiction that has won numerous awards for its depiction of Nazi-occupied France. Here, Marie-Laure must journey with her father to find safety with her mysterious uncle. With them, they carry the most dangerous jewel from the Parisian museums. Looking for more books to binge on a weekend? Check out the best books for beach reading. Or you can also search for our best book guides using our search bar.

“We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.”

Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

16. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Penner’s powerful literary fiction story, The Lost Apothecary, tells the story of a hidden apothecary made to help women in distress…or out for vengeance. Centuries later, its secrets are uncovered by a modern woman living in London.

“Intermingled in the mess was another, subtler secret … we were happy, yet unfulfilled. It was possible, I understood now, to be both at the same time.”

Sarah Penner, The Lost Apothecary

17. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

In The Last Thing He Told Me, Hannah Michaels sets out to uncover the mystery after her husband disappears under mysterious circumstances. She sets out to uncover the truth with her teenage daughter, but neither is prepared for the secrets they find. It’s been a favorite book for many clubs looking for a new thriller.

“This is the thing about good and evil. They aren’t so far apart – and they often start from the same valiant place of wanting something to be different.”

Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me

18. Each Night Was Illuminated by Jodi Lynn Anderson

New York Times bestselling author Anderson reinvents the classic tale of young lovers with Each Night Was Illuminated, an easy read of disillusion, spirituality, and romance. Cassie and Elias were childhood friends bonded through tragedy. Now, years later, Elias is back in town with a new zest for life and its secrets: Cassie begins to find that her world is much bigger and more hopeful than she had believed. It’s a touching, provoking love story.

“Close your eyes,” Elias says, doing that up-and-down thing he does, that restless, slight bouncing on the balls of his feet that makes him look eight and not eighteen. “Think about our secrets. The things only you and me were there for.”

Jodi Lynn Anderson, Each Night Was Illuminated

19. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Award-winning N.K. Jemisin crafts a bold, political urban fantasy in The City We Became that’s hard to put down: New York City has finally grown enough to be born as a living incarnation, supported by the sudden avatars of each of its boroughs. But other ancient living cities wait to interfere – or destroy – during this fragile time. Can the newly-empowered avatars protect the city they love from eldritch forces? And what does it mean to be in NYC?

“Nothing human beings do is set in stone–and even stone changes, anyway. We can change, too, anything about ourselves that we want to. We just have to want to.”

N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became

20. The Beauty of Dusk by Frank Bruni

For those interested in emotional nonfiction books, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recounts his experience with a sudden stroke that took a vision from one of his eyes and threatened to blind him permanently in The Beauty of Dusk. He talks about his experience, his adjustment to life, the wisdom he gathered during this time, and the blessings he felt.

“‘ Why me?’ There’s a better question, of course: ‘Why not me?’ Why should any of us be spared struggle, when struggle is a condition more universal than comfort, than satiation, than peace, maybe than love?”

Frank Bruni, The Beauty of Dusk

21. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, a mysterious Hollywood star calls on an unknown reporter Monique to at least reveal her life’s secrets. That includes friendships, loves, vendettas, and seven different husbands. As the tale continues, Monique realizes it’s much more important than she thought, and possibly connected to her own life. 

“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

22. Light Years From Home by Mike Chen

Light Years From Home opens with two sisters remaining estranged years after their father and brother mysteriously vanished. Their father reappeared, convinced aliens had abducted him, but their brother never returned. Years later, their brother too reappears, forcing them together again…but either the story he has to tell is beyond belief, or the whole planet is in danger.

“Here it came. Confirmation of extraterrestrial life. Confirmation of where he’d been. Confirmation of why he’d been away. Evie practically felt Dad’s presence next to her, leaning forward in anticipation. ‘I was backpacking,’ he finally said.”

Mike Chen, Light Years From Home

23. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures is a charming book that dives into the relationship between the elderly Tova Sullivan, a nightshift janitor at an aquarium, and a boisterous octopus that keeps on escaping…until he forms an unlikely bond. Now the octopus has a mystery to solve for his best friend, and he won’t let anything stop him.

“Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.”

Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures

24. Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

Book clubs looking for historical fiction will love Sin Eater, a medieval tale of a teen girl sentenced to become a Sin Eater, doomed to hear final confessions that the dying were too scared to tell anyone else. In a twisted turn, when she hears confessions from the royal court, she realizes her real duty may be far more complicated.

“I understand why sin eaters were made. Carrying such feelings is too much for one little heart and one body. There must be some hope of shedding regret, grief, sorrow, sloughing them off like a skin and going into death free and light.”

Megan Campisi, Sin Eater

25. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Anxious People is a crime comedy that’s perfect for book clubs, as it dives into an apartment viewing that suddenly turns into a hostage situation thanks to a fleeing bank robber. However, everyone here has something to hide, and it all comes out in hilarious and meaningful ways under the tension.

“Some of us never manage to get the chaos under control, so our lives simply carry on, the world spinning through space at two million miles an hour while we bounce about on its surface like so many lost socks.”

Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

FAQs About The Best Books For A Book Club

What is Oprah’s Current book club selection?

Oprah had several excellent Book Club List picks in 2022 – and if you want to peruse the historical list of nearly 100 favorites, you can find it here. But some of Oprah’s most recent picks also appear on our list! That includes books like The Sun Does Shine, Olive, Again, and Behold the Dreamers.

What are Women’s book clubs reading?

Women’s book clubs tend to focus more on the latest releases and heartwarming reads, but they aren’t afraid of thrills and chills. That includes dark small-town drams like Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso, mysteries like Easter Bonnet Murder by Leslie Meier, and romances like Business Not as Usual by Sharon C. Cooper. There are also nonfiction picks like The Beauty of Dusk by Frank Bruni and poetry like Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong.

How do you lead a fun book club?

Worried about your book club growing boring or getting stifled with the wrong kinds of conversation? Fortunately, several little tricks can help keep a book club fun and flowing:
1. Keep things casual but lightly structured: Book clubs are meant to be fun, not literature classes. 
2. Get organized: You don’t have to use a literal planner, but at least make notes about where everyone stopped reading and the discussions you had in the previous meeting. 
3. Bring snacks: There’s a good reason book clubs and wine clubs are often inextricable. 
4. Have a list of questions and topics: Once you’ve nominated and chosen a book, look online for book club questions to ask. 
Switch genres frequently: Don’t stick with the same genre twice; that can make things stale. 

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best books for teenagers!

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  • Tyler has been published on Huffington Post and Motely Fool. His article and blogs experience includes working for The Content Standard, Mad Mobile, Digital Landing, and Apass Education, among many others.