If your book club is looking for the next big read, check out some of these book club kits put together by the library! Each kit comes with ten copies of the book, along with the occasional addition of large-print copies and audiobooks. A hold can be placed on a kit for you by your reference librarian.
To learn about the titles currently available as book club kits, read more under the cut!
*Books indicated with a (*) are considered Young Adult titles.
*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie’s emotional, heartbreaking, and hilarious story about a Native American teen living on a Spokane reservation won him a National Book Award, along with many other literary accolades. The story is told through the journal of Junior, a young budding cartoonist who decides to attend a nearby all white high school instead of the troubled school on his reservation. Throughout his entries are drawings and doodles about his life, and we follow Junior as he deals with prejudice, sadness, and puberty.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Married couple Celestial and Roy are the image of happiness, both with exciting job prospects and a spectacular love between them. Their world is ripped apart, however, when Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison, even though Celestial knows he is innocent. As the years of her husband’s sentence pass by, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the fierce love she once felt for Roy, and instead finds herself drawn to her childhood friend Andre, who was the best man at their wedding. Celestial’s life is thrown into chaos yet again when Roy’s conviction is overturned after five years, and he returns home with the hope of resuming their perfect life together.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Young lovers Ifemelu and Obinze have hope in their hearts when they leave the military dictatorship in Nigeria to go West. Ifemelu makes her way to America, where she finds that successful studies are often marred by the racism she encounters there, for the first time realizing what it means to be “black.” Obinze is unable to join her after his visa is denied following 9/11, and instead begins life as an undocumented immigrant in London. Fifteen years later, the meet again in the newly democratic Nigeria, and grapple with whether their love can overcome the drastically different lives they made for themselves.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande’s nonfiction book addresses the many different concerns of senior living, especially in terms of how the medical industry handles aging. Using anecdotes from both doctors and seniors alike, Gawande artfully delves into one of life’s most delicate topics: death. Whether it be how nursing homes treat their patients or how doctors speak to their patients about their hopes for recovery, Gawande approaches every fact and story with a remarkable amount of grace and understanding.
*Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Tomi Adeyimi engrosses readers from the very first page with her fantastic world building, but it’s her dynamic and entrancing characters that keep them glued to the page. Zélie Adebola’s homeland of Orïsha used to be full of magic, wielded by the powerful maji to keep the world in order. But under a ruthless king, magic was banished, and all maji were killed. Now motherless, it is up to Zélie to bring magic back to Orïsha and hope back to her people, but she must act fast. The crown prince of the monarchy knows Zélie for the threat she is, and aims to do whatever it takes to keep magic away from his kingdom.
The Crazy Ladies of Pearl Street by Trevanian
After young Jean-Luc LaPointe and his family are once again abandoned by his father in the 1930’s, Jean-Luc, his younger sister, and his mother move onto Pearl Street, located in the center of a New York Irish slum. As Jean-Luc grows up on Pearl Street, he gets to know the myriad of “crazyladies” that share his neighborhood. As the LaPointe family lives through the Great Depression and the World War II, Jean-Luc never gives up hope that someday he and his kin will escape the slum and find a better life.
*Death Note by Tsugimi Ōba
When Light Yagami finds a darkly magical notebook dropped by a god of death, his world is thrown into disarray. The Death Note, as its name would suggest, holds a great power: any person whose name is written in the book will die. As Light uses the Death Note to rid the world of many of its most heinous criminals, police detective L begins a cunning search to find the killer. Along with police pursuit, Light also feels the corrupting influence of the death god, Ryuk, who once owned the Death Note. This manga series has spawned an anime series, several Japanese film franchises, and even a Netflix movie adaptation earlier this year.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The world famous diary of the young Jewish girl Anne Frank details her and her family’s attempts to survive and outrun the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War. Seeing the tragedy and hardship of the Holocaust through a young girl’s eyes offers readers an unforgettable, moving insight into the horror of war. The family was eventually caught by the Germans, and Anne’s father was the only one to survive the concentration camps. It is through his efforts that Anne’s diary has reached the entire world.
Educated by Tara Westover
In her critically acclaimed memoir, Tara Westover discusses what it was like to be raised by survivalist parents, growing up in the mountains of Idaho. It wasn’t until Tara was seventeen that she actually entered a formal classroom, and that first step ended up leading her across the world, all the way to a PhD from Cambridge University. Over the course of her story, Tara reveals the effect her survivalist parents had on her and her siblings, and what it was like to enter formal schooling so late in life.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends…for the last time.
A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy. This novel won a Hugo Award in 2016, an award given to spectacular works of fantasy and science fiction.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Written by the immensely talented and praised James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room delves into the complexities of the human heart and sexuality. David, a young American man living in Paris, has just proposed to his girlfriend, Hella. Everything seems to be going according to plan, until David meets a local bartender named Giovanni. David finds himself drawn to Giovanni, and the two spend countless nights together while Hella is away. But when Hella returns, everything comes to a tragic head, and David experiences one long night that leads to the worst morning of his life.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Now a critically acclaimed Hulu original series, Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel tells the story of a dystopian world where the rights of women have been completely eliminated, and females are once again considered property. The book follows Offred, a Handmaid, as she survives the harsh reality in which she now lives. As a Handmaid, it is Offred’s job to provide children for important men in society. As Offred learns about a possible rebellion, she must decide if she wants to risk her life for freedom or remain safe in servitude.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This novel follows the lives and descendants of half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born into very different circumstances in eighteenth-century Ghana. As Effia gains a life of ease and luxury, Esi heads down a road of imprisonment and slavery. Half of the novel follows Effia’s descendants as they deal with violence and war in Ghana, while the other half deals with Esi and her family’s struggle with slavery in America. This novel won Gyasi many awards, and cemented her place as an author to be remembered for decades to come.
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
This spectacular family saga takes a look at the Mexican American family of Big Angel, who is throwing himself one last birthday party before he dies of cancer. But when his mother dies unexpectedly, he decides to combine his last birthday party with her funeral to make one emotional family weekend. One of the party guests, Little Angel, is Big Angel’s namesake, and he must say goodbye to his mother and his family at the same time. Filled with as much humor and wit as tears, The House of Broken Angels somehow manages to be a joyful book in the face of a dark premise.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
In New York City in 1969, a mystical fortune teller comes into town claiming she can tell anyone the exact date of their death. Unable to resist the temptation, the four Gold children disobey their parents’ orders and have their fortunes told. Over the next five decades, the four children are immensely affected by what the fortune teller told them. Some aim to discover immortality and magic, while others seek love and security. The novel explores whether we can really outrun our destiny, or if there really is some choice in the matter.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Dana is a modern black woman, and she is celebrating her birthday with her husband when she suddenly travels back in time to a Southern plantation in the slavery era, where she is tasked with saving the son of a vicious white plantation owner. As Dana begins to travel from this past to the future more often, she begins to experience the pain of slavery, and does all she can to help the slaves around her. But each foray into the past lasts longer than the last, and soon Dana finds herself worrying that she may not survive long enough to make it back to the future.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Less tells the story of failed novelist Andrew Less, who decides to travel the world on a literary tour in order to avoid going to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, and his own upcoming fiftieth birthday. His grand trip turns out to be more of a stumbling venture, and throughout his journey he finds himself ensnared in a wide variety of delightfully odd situations (and some less delightful), and manages to outrun exactly zero ghosts from his past. Full of humor, wit, love, and begrudging acceptance of aging, Less is a book that you certainly will not want to miss.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
George Saunders imagines the father-son relationship between Abraham Lincoln and his eleven-year-old son Willie in an entirely new and novel way in Lincoln in the Bardo, winning the book the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Willie Lincoln died only a year into the Civil War, and never made it to his twelfth birthday. However, Saunders imagines Willie’s experience in the bardo–a place between life and death–where he mingles with ghosts, and his soul is fought over, all the while his father grieves severely.
*Looking For Alaska by John Green
Obsessed with the dying words of famous figures from history, Miles “Pudge” Halter heads to a small boarding school, where he hopes his life will be significantly more exciting. Pudge is not disappointed, and makes a handful of interesting and unforgettable friends, all led by the enigmatic Alaska, with whom Pudge finds himself hopelessly enamored. Together, the group works to pull off some of the most legendary pranks the school has ever seen. But when tragedy strikes, Pudge and his friends find themselves lost and confused.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman
Ove is the textbook definition of a grumpy old scrooge, and everyone who lives near him knows it. But what they don’t know is that Ove’s gruffness hides a lifetime of sadness and pain. When a happy-go-lucky nuclear family moves in next door, their lives collide quite literally with Ove’s through the accidental smashing of his mailbox. But as the family gets to know the cranky curmudgeon next door, they begin to realize the humor, depth, and sadness that hides underneath Ove’s prickly exterior.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman made history with Maus when it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. In the novel, Spiegalman recounts his Jewish parents’ experiences in World War II and the Holocaust, including being sent to concentration camp. The art is stunning and beautiful, with the Nazis portrayed as cats and Jewish people portrayed as mice. The entire narrative is framed by Spiegelman’s tumultuous relationship with his father, and the way the Holocaust’s effects still follow his father, years after.
*Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
After a tragic death in the family, sixteen-year-old Jacob travels to a small island off the coast of Wales that is home to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a strange estate stuck in a time loop. Jacob quickly learns that by “peculiar,” the estate’s name references the special powers and abilities of its inhabitants. From superior strength to levitation to reversing death, Jacob finds himself fighting a dark force alongside these gifted individuals, and that he himself might have some powers of his own. Interspersed throughout the novel are vintage photographs of the children and their “peculiar” talents.
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Beatty’s comedic novel tells the story of Dickens, a small town on the outskirts of Los Angeles where an unnamed narrator lives with his single sociologist father. His father plans to release a memoir that will solve the family’s financial problems, but ends up getting killed in a police shootout. The narrator then learns that there was never a memoir, and instead he is stuck permanently in a town removed from the map for being an embarrassment. His solution? Team up with Dickens’ most famous resident to reinstate slavery and segregation, leading to the involvement the Supreme Court and all the attention that comes with it.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Ruth Jefferson is one of the best labor and delivery nurses at the Connecticut hospital where she works, so she is shocked when she is told that a white supremacist couple has demanded that Ruth, an African American, not touch their child. But when the baby goes into cardiac distress with no one else around, Ruth makes the quick decision to try to save the baby’s life, but to no avail. Suddenly, Ruth is charged with murder and taken to court, where she and her white defense lawyer must wade through the ugly reality of racism, privilege, and justice.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
In her bestselling book, Ijeoma Oluo delves deep into the issue of race in America, exploring topics such as white privilege, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. She addressed these issues head on, giving readers a straightforward explanation on the country’s racial landscape, and what readers need to know to lessen the racial divide. Oluo provides answers to many questions white Americans often don’t want to ask, and explains many concepts of race and racism in a clear and concise manner, while still managing to work a few laughs in along the way.
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
Alabama, 1985: at the age of twenty-nine, Anthony Ray Hinton is arrested and sentenced to death for two counts of murder. He knows he is innocent, but has little protection available as a poor black man in the South. After accepting his fate, Hinton vowed to not only survive, but to find joy and happiness on Death Row, and spread that positivity to his fellow inmates. When Hinton was finally released and found innocent in 2015, it had been a full twenty-seven years that he had lived, not survived, on Death Row. In this memoir, Hinton tells his story, along with those of the people he met in one of the darkest places.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin. Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.
Tomboy by Liz Prince
Liz Prince was never sure where she fit in growing up. She wasn’t one of the guys, but she also wasn’t into stereotypically “girly” stuff, either. Instead, she fell into the strange gray area of “tomboy.” In this graphic memoir, Liz takes us through her childhood to her adult life, exploring her own definition of what it means to be a girl and how her opinion has changed and evolved over the years. She mentions how her judgment of how women express their gender has grown into an acceptance of femininity in all of its forms, and does so with grace, wit, and humor.
The Trespasser by Tana French
Detective Antoinette Conway has finally made it onto the Murder squad, but it seems as though her partner is the only one who appreciates her presence, with the rest of her squad subjecting her to pranks, harassment, and embarrassment. Then a new case comes in: Aislinn Murray, a perfect, blonde nobody, has been found dead. Antoinette is assigned to the case, and her squad pressures her into immediately arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend. But Antoinette can’t help but suspect that there is more to the case than appears, and that perhaps Aislinn wasn’t the perfect girl she appeared to be.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Winner of both the 2016 National Book Award and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Colson Whitehead reimagines the Underground Railroad as an actual train system that takes escaped slaves to their supposed freedom. The story centers on Cora, a third generation slave who escapes with a fellow slave named Caesar. The two wind up in what seems to be a haven for escaped slaves, but the two slowly come to realize that wherever they go, the nation’s brutal racism follows.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The bestselling memoir of Paul Kalanithi details his experience as a neurosurgeon and new father who, at the age of thirty-six, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Suddenly faced with death and what it means to live a fulfilling life, Kalanithi began writing this memoir to work through his thoughts and inspire others. Kalanithi takes us through his life, and his growing perception of death, from the clinical perspective of a med student to the final thoughts of a dying man. Kalanithi died before he could finish this book, but his message still remain an inspiring gift.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist, has just been given her dream assignment: spend a week on a small luxury cruise and report about her experience. What should be a perfect trip in the North Sea is disturbed when bad weather hits, and Lo swears she saw a woman get thrown overboard. But all the ship’s passengers are accounted for, and the cruise continues on. As Lo desperately tries to find the woman and convince her fellow passengers of the danger, she finds herself doubting whether what she saw truly happened, or if it was all a strange nightmare.