The 10 best books to read in your book club in 2023
Belonging to a book club can be a great source of joy and community for any book lover. But actually choosing which books to read next in your book club? That’s not always so easy.
To make things simpler for you, I’ve compiled my recommendations of the best books for book clubs to read and discuss in 2023, including new books, all-time classics, and other bestselling and award-winning books from the last few years.
Which book will you choose to read next in your book club?
The best book club books for 2023
1. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022)
- What is it about? Two nerdy kids meet in a hospital, bond over video games, and years later start their own game company. This brings them money and fame, but also tragedy.
- Choose it to discuss: Friendship, grief, and creative work.
- Books like Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, plus more on this list
I’ve recommended Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow to so many people. It’s one of the most wonderfully creative and gripping books I’ve read in a long time.
It’s also a book I wanted to discuss with everyone, so I think it’d be a perfect book for book clubs this year.
2. What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo (2022)
- What is it about? A memoir of reckoning and healing by acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo, investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD and how it has shaped her life.
- Choose it to discuss: Mental health, trauma, and experiences with therapy.
- Books like What My Bones Know: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
What My Bones Know is a deeply personal book about the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body, and one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma.
In this memoir, Stephanie Foo interviews scientists and tries a variety of innovative therapies, investigates the effects of immigrant trauma on her California hometown, and uncovers family secrets to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations.
3. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (2021)
- What is it about? Two teenagers from opposite sides of a divided land fall in love at a tavern. Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. But she does have one connection to the land of her ancestors: a fig tree.
- Choose it to discuss: Parenting, mental health, love across borders, and conflict.
- Books like The Island of Missing Trees: The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Island of Missing Trees must be the first book I’ve ever read that features the perspective of a fig tree, and it’s just so delicately and thoughtfully crafted.
Opening in 1974 on the island of Cyprus, read this book for proof of how human emotion surpasses all borders.
4. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (2021)
- What is it about? An unshowy, intimate novel-cross-fictional memoir about a successful writer and her relationship with her ex-husband and father of her daughters.
- Choose it to discuss: How your relationships have shaped your life, human imperfections, love, and loss.
- Books like Oh William!: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
In Oh William! the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted bestseller offers an open-hearted and fearlessly honest novel about love, loss, family secrets, and oh-so-common human imperfections.
Now in her 60s and settled into a successful writing career, Strout’s heroine Lucy Barton returns to explore her tender and complex relationship with her first husband, William.
5. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (2021)
- What is it about? In a utopian future on a planet named Panga, a non-binary tea monk (who serves tea from their bike-powered wagon) feels completely lost in life. They wander into the wilderness and meet Mosscap, a robot who has some very good questions that they have no clue how to answer. Here’s my summary and review.
- Choose it to discuss: Gender, sustainability, and the future of our planet.
- Books like A Psalm for the Wild-Built: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers is at the forefront of hopepunk, or hopeful sci-fi, and crafts soothingly optimistic visions of the future for us to retreat into (and discuss in book clubs).
A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a wonderfully feel-good cozy book, and the first short read in Chambers’ Monk & Robot duology.
6. Piranesi by Susanna Clark (2020)
- What is it about? A genre-bending book where nothing is quite what it seems.
- Choose it to discuss: What on earth happened in this book.
- Books like Piranesi: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The winner of The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, Piranesi is a hypnotic story of a man in a house with infinite rooms, endless corridors, and waves that thunder up staircases.
Beejay Silcox writes for The Times Literary Supplement, “The page-turning thrill of Piranesi is watching him puzzle out what we can already see, and guilelessly wander into danger…”
7. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017)
- What is it about? An epic of a Korean immigrant family over four generations as they fight for acceptance, freedom, and riches in 20th-century Japan.
- Choose it to discuss: Family, the choices we make, loss, and the path from poverty to wealth.
- Books like Pachinko: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Pachinko is one of those remarkable books that manages to encompass such a sheer amount of time, change, and human emotion. I think it’s one of the best multi-generational books – as well as a fantastic book to help you fall back in love with reading.
After you finish reading the book with your book club, there’s an excellent adaptation by Apple TV of Pachinko to enjoy.
8. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)
- What is it about? One of the best books ever written about death and the shortness of life. (And a classic that’s not too difficult to read.)
- Choose it to discuss: Death, coming to terms with mortality, and making the most of life.
- Books like The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The subject matter is pretty heavy, sure, but The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the most accessible places to start with Leo Tolstoy – and a fairly easy classic to read. There’s also plenty to discuss as a book club read.
9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2020)
- What is it about? Twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
- Choose it to discuss: How our upbringing affects us, definitions of home, leaving the place you grew up.
- Books like The Vanishing Half: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Maureen Corrigan shared about this bestseller: “As another melodramatic novelist, Charles Dickens, recognized: If you tell people a wild and compelling enough story, they may just listen to things they’d rather not hear.”
10. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell (2022)
- What is it about? A gripping historical fiction novel about the suspicious death of fifteen-year-old Lucrezia di Cosimo de’ Medici, just a year after her marriage.
- Choose it to discuss: Freedom, captivity, women’s roles, and what really happened.
- Books like The Marriage Portrait: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Right from the start of The Marriage Portrait, we know that less than a year after fifteen-year-old Lucrezia de’ Medici marries Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, she will be dead.
The official cause of death was ‘putrid fever’, but it was rumoured that she had been murdered by her husband. What follows is a spellbinding book that’s gorgeously crafted, infused with life, and difficult to put down.
Looking for more of the best book club books? Head over to my list of the best modern novels of the 21st century for some of the best books ever written to discuss with your group.
You can also keep an eye on what I’m reading in The Tolstoy Therapy Book Club for more book club book suggestions.
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
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