2018 Book Club Selections


It’s only November, but it’s time to look ahead to next year’s book club! Like this year, we’ll be discussing each month’s book in our closed Facebook group. You’re welcome to join us for one month or all twelve.

{Book descriptions taken from my library website or Goodreads. Some are lightly edited.}


January

Gifts of Imperfection coverGifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Why did I select it? I wanted a discussable nonfiction title, and Brown has been on my to be read stack for ages. Her books are supposed to be inspiring and engaging, and that sounded like a great way to kick off 2018!

What’s it about? “An expert of the psychology of shame presents advice on how to overcome paralyzing fears and self-consciousness, and at the same time increase feelings of self-worth, gratitude, and acceptance.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

February

The Death of Ivan Ilyich coverThe Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy

Why did I select it? I’m shamefully unread in Russian literature and would like to at least read something by one of the big names. Why this title in particular? The assumption that a novella is a more accessible (or at least manageable) selection than one of Tolstoy’s lengthier options. If any of us get inspired, the linked version includes additional short stories, but all I’m promising to read is Ivan Ilyich.

What’s it about? “A middle-aged high-court judge who had never thought about his own mortality, Ivan Ilyich must readjust his thinking when he learns he has a terminal illness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

March

A Vision of Light coverA Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley

Why did I select it? Historical fiction makes for such great discussions. Riley’s book isn’t as well-known as some titles, but it’s well-reviewed, and the start of a series.

What’s it about? “Margaret of Ashbury wants to write her life story. However, like most women in fourteenth-century England, she is illiterate. Three clerics contemptuously decline to be Margaret’s scribe, and only the threat of starvation persuades Brother Gregory, a Carthusian friar with a mysterious past, to take on the task. As she narrates her life, we discover a woman of startling resourcefulness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

April

Watership Down coverWatership Down by Richard Adams

Why did I select it? I’ve never read this modern classic, and I’ve always been curious about how Adams handles the world-building to make the lives of rabbits that compelling.

What’s it about? “Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

May

Wuthering Heights coverWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Why did I select it? I still have never read it, and after reading the biography on the Brontë sisters last year I’m even more eager to do so.

What’s it about? “The tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


June

The Sparrow coverThe Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Why did I select it? I wanted to have a discussable science fiction title for the year, and found Russell’s book on multiple lists of recommended science fiction titles, particularly for those new to the genre.

What’s it about? “The sole survivor of a crew sent to explore a new planet, Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz discovers an alien civilization that raises questions about the very essence of humanity, an encounter that leads Sandoz to a public inquisition and the destruction of his faith.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

July

1776 cover1776 by David McCullough

Why did I select it? Our year’s history selection. McCullough typically writes such accessible nonfiction, I’m hoping it’s appealing even for those who don’t typically enjoy that genre.

What’s it about? “Draws on personal correspondence and period diaries to present a history of the American Revolution that ranges from the siege of Boston, to the American defeat at Brooklyn and retreat across New Jersey, to the American victory at Trenton.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

August

Angle of Repose coverAngle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Why did I select it? I loved Stegner’s novel Crossing to Safety, and was looking for a character-driven, slower paced contemporary novel for the year.

What’s it about? “Wallace Stegner’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery—personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents’ remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America’s western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he’s willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

September

Sky Burial coverSky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran

Why did I select it? Originally this spot in the year’s selections was to be filled by a memoir, but I kept coming back to this title. It’s incorrectly listed as nonfiction some places, but it is a novelization of someone’s life story. While we won’t have a true memoir this year, I hope that this is close enough to that to satisfy all my fellow memoir-lovers.

What’s it about? “In 1958, notified that her husband, a doctor in the Chinese army has been killed in action in Tibet, Shu Wen joins the army, determined to uncover the truth, only to find herself alone, embarking on a thirty-year nomadic odyssey. Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love, loss, loyalty, and survival.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

October

The Hound of the Baskervilles coverThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Why did I select it? My nod to Halloween, with as seasonal a read as I can manage. It’s filling in the role of mystery for the year, while also giving me another classic that I’ve somehow not read.

What’s it about? “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson travel to the bleak wastes of Dartmoor to solve the mystery surrounding the late Sir Charles Baskerville and a ghostly hound.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

November

The Chilbury Ladies ChoirThe Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Why did I select it? I couldn’t limit myself to only one historical fiction title for the year – there are just so many wonderful ones! I tried for a completely different time period, to provide for a varied reading experience. Terrific reviews and an intriguing setting have me very excited to try this newer title. Plus, it’s an epistolary novel, and we haven’t read one of those for this book club before (and I adore that format).

What’s it about? “Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

December

Blue Castle coverBlue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Why did I select it? I wanted an easy-to-read title for December, as it’s such a busy time of year. I also wanted something lighter so the discussion could wrap up quicker, as last year I found it really hard to manage a discussion amidst all of the seasonal activity. While I’ve read all of Montgomery’s Anne Shirley series, I haven’t read any of her other titles.

What’s it about? “In early 1920s Canada, drastic circumstances give Valancy, a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried woman resigned to being an “old maid,” the courage to defy her controlling family and escape to a life of her own choosing.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

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