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Friday, September 6, 2019

New Set of Bite Sized Book Lists for NoveList by Me

One of the most common communications I get is from people looking for interesting book club titles. I have been working with NoveList to make more "grab and go" lists of inclusive and interesting books for book clubs over the last year to help satisfy the demand.

My first group of 5 lists with 6 books in each went live last year and you can see the categories and titles for those here. Now below you can access my second group of 5 lists of 6 books that recently went live on NoveList.

While all you get here on the blog are the titles and the annotation for the category, all of the title annotations are available through NoveList, When you look up a title go to the "Lists and Articles" tab and "Bite- Sized Book Lists" will be listed there. That link then brings you directly to the full list. [See the entry example photo for Unbury Carol to the left]

With both sets of lists that is 60 books total! You can use these to make displays, as sure bet suggestions based on the categories, or for book groups. And, there is no excuse not to book talk these titles-- again 60 of them-- because I wrote you a 30 second [or less] book talk for each. They are sure bet titles for adult readers. And most are also good for teens.

Even without Novelist access, you can at least book talk the category and then offer title suggestions. So get out there and start book talking.


Not Your Father’s Westerns: Westerns are making a comeback carried on the backs of a new crop of writers, led by women and own voices authors, who are turning their pens to the legacy of this rich, cinematic and uniquely American genre. The results are a spate of fresh, entertaining, and thought provoking tales that are perfect for book discussions because Westerns are tales not only of heroes and adventure, the vast and often unforgiving landscape, but also of outsiders and loners looking for their place in the American story.  
  • The Son by Philipp Meyer
  • Little Century by Anna Keesey
  • Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu
  • Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
  • River of Teeth  by Sarah Gailey
Graphic Novels for Book Discussions: This may shock your average book club participants, but some of the most thought provoking and discussable books being written also come with pictures. If you are dismissing graphic novels as childish or think they are not for YOUR book club, you are missing out on some great stories and thought provoking discussions. Here is a list of six graphic novels that will engage your group to discuss the themes, the art, the writing and how it all works together to create a memorable story. 
  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  • Journalism by Joe Sacco
  • Here by Richard McGuire
  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Volume 1 by Emil Ferris
  • Destroyer by Victor LaValle
  • Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy written by Noelle Steveson and Grace Ellis, illustrated by Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen

Books in Translation: Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of books not originally written in English, being made available in translation. We can thank the success of novels like those by Haruki Murakami and series by Stieg Larsson and Elena Ferrante for making books in translation a viable commercial endeavour for American publishers. This list includes titles from all over the world and from a variety of genres, all of which make for an excellent book club experience in English. 
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
  • Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
True Crime: No longer a genre only read in secret,True Crime is a genre that is loudly proclaiming its place in the mainstream. With the popularity of true crime based podcasts like “My Favorite Murder” and “Serial,” there is a huge appetite for books to fill the gap between episodes. The genre has also seen a renaissance in the writing style, as until very recently, the books were mostly written by those doing the investigations. Now, we see more writers entering the genre, leading to a narrative focus that goes beyond the specific “facts” of the cases and engenders further inquiry into larger, universal issues, creating a perfect space for book groups to enter the picture. Here is a list of 6 true crime titles, split up into three pairings that will further enhance discussion over multiple meetings. 
Popular True Crime-Memoir Mash Ups: These books feature true crime stories where the author also inserts themself and their life story into the narrative; as a result, they are an excellent choice for groups already comfortable discussing memoirs.
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 
  • Black Klansman: Race, Hate and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth
True Crime With Lots of Frame: These books are as much about the details of the time, place, and worlds in which they are centered as they are about the crimes in question; as a result, they make a great choice for group’s who already enjoy historical fiction and narrative nonfiction. Both of these titles are also excellent on audio.
  • The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Johnson
  • The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
True Crime Set Outside America: Most of the true crime being read in America and featured on the most popular podcasts is set right here. Why not try reading about a crime overseas? These books are a great choice for groups who like, or want to try, internationally set stories.
  • There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Columbia by Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno
  • A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China by Pin He and Wenguang Huang.
Take a Trip Around the World: While I’d be willing to guess that your book club does not have the budget to travel the world in person, since you already meet regularly, you could plan some armchair travel, together. Below is a list containing one book from each of the 6 inhabited continents. All are set in the 21st century, allowing your group to explore the world as it is now, compare experiences across continents, and make true connections with characters and cultures from all across the globe.
  • Europe: Ordinary People by Diana Evans
  • Africa: Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo 
  • Asia: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga 
  • Australia: A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay
  • North America: There,There by Tommy Orange
  • South America: The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa

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