What makes a good book club book?

One of our most successful choices was Kafka’s The Trial. Other books that everyone enjoyed reading and fostered lively discussion: Wild Swans, Bel Canto, Love in the Time of Cholera, and The Known World. We also had great discussions about Embers, Lolita and Atonement. So I ask myself, what do these books have in common?

  1. Well-written, with style and beauty.
  2. Thought-provoking themes and characters.
  3. Aside from the Kafka, not too densely written…and aside from Love in the Time of Cholera not terribly long.
  4. Accessible, with enough narrative energy to keep us reading.

Needless to say, some great books don’t make good book club books. Example: Almost anything by Dickens–because of the length–or by Faulkner–because of the density of the prose. I wonder how many of us will finish the Henry James?

Our list is here. Someday soon, I’ll add grades and links to my reviews.

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