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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Suggestions for a Guys Book Group

I had a patron come to the desk at BPL on Monday to tell us about his new book group. It consists of a dozen or so 30-something, fathers, who meet in a local bar to hold their discussions. They had their first meeting last month and they read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. They are reading Confederacy of Dunces next and Motherless Brooklyn in August. All three are excellent choices to get a guys group going.

I told him I would compile I list of suggestions for future months. His requirements were that the books be less than 350, they wanted fictions and nonfiction, a few classics, short stories, a "scary book for Halloween, and anything I just thought might be good.

So here are the suggestions, for both his group, and anyone else out there, to peruse.

Let's start with the "scary" book suggestion. I have three. The first two might have less to discuss in the traditional book discussion sense, but are VERY scary, and the third is not as scary, but a good book discussion title. Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box and Scott Smith's The Ruins, are the two best horror books of the last few years (IMO). The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue is about changelings and has provoked a lot of conversation and accolades. It also deal with fatherhood.

Now onto other suggested titles. I will list fiction and nonfiction separately. Each is linked to Amazon, where interested readers can find not only summaries, but comments from actual readers. When choosing titles for a book discussion, I always look at a few 5 star reviews and a few 1 star reviews to get the full spectrum of opinions on a book. It has served me well for 7 1/2 years of picking book discussion titles.

I have placed a * in front of my top 10 picks for discussion. But this is only my opinion.

*Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
*Blindness by Jose Saramago
*Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (which is technically 18 pages over the limit, but many of the pages are just pictures)
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami (Short Stories)
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (Short Stories)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Stories)
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
*On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Van by Roddy Doyle

(The page limit really held my choices back here, but these are all great options. Many are under the limit in text, but over when you count the notes sections)
by Mark Kurlansky
*Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
*Maus or In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman (both graphic novels)
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
*Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
*Longitude by Dava Sobel
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
*1776 by David McCulough
Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Good luck to the Berwyn guys and anyone else who chooses to use this list. Please feel free to use the comments to add to the list. I know there are a lot more books to add because I had to force myself to stop.


Kathy said...

Kathy would also like to add the following suggestions:

Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
True Notebooks by Mark Salzman
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

These are all books I have read and really enjoyed. I think they would make for good discussion.

Becky said...

Thanks Kathy. I knew you would have others.

Keep them coming everyone out there.

Anonymous said...

Your husband loaned me this one, becky:

The Roaches Have No King by Daniel Evan Weiss

Not for the squeamish or sensitive but very clever and fun to read. The story is told from the POV of (the surprisingly literate) cockroaches living in Ira's apartment. Best of all for a group of guys, this would never be mistaken for a "chick lit" book club book!