Book clubs are having a major revival; the organized affair is no longer pigeonholed to sewing circles or middle-aged evening escapes. Nowadays, hip celebrities are starting online book clubs, teens and millennials are discovering love for literature, and adults are flocking to the concept of bonding over books with friends and family—wine optional. It can be daunting to pick a title ro two for book club, but a good start is understanding one of the most successful book club genres: commercial fiction. With a wide audience and far reach into themes in genres, the plotlines are easy to follow and the main characters (as well as their journey) are easily relatable. These novels are usually not extremely long, so they’re perfect as a “weekend-read” type of novel, or one that can be followed on a chapter-by-week basis—ideal for book clubs.
We compiled a list of some of our SparkPress favs that would appeal to every type of book club, whether it’s women looking to rediscovering themselves, lovers of historical fiction, or those wanting a fresh spin on Sex and the City.
The Year of Necessary Lies by best-selling author Kris Radish
For lovers of historical fiction, itching to walk side-by-side with a group of brazen female activists in the early 20th century
2016 International Book Awards Historical Fiction Finalist
One amazing year in a remarkable woman¹s life journey becomes the inspiration for generations when she takes a huge risk, follows her heart, embraces forbidden love, and unwittingly becomes the champion of a winged world that is on the brink of extinction. It’s 1903, the world is poised for drastic change, and Julia Briton is a naive, beautiful Boston socialite who suffers a series of devastating losses and discovers that her beloved husband is involved in the plume trade―the massive slaughter of birds for use in the fashion industry. When Julia is secretly ushered into the early 20th century by a group of brazen female activists, she boldly risks everything and embarks on a perilous journey to the wilds of untamed Florida, a place of great danger where men will stop at nothing to get what they want and where one man, and a faithful friend, force her to make yet more life-changing decisions. Years later, when Julia’s great-granddaughter, Kelly, discovers some hidden tape recordings in her famous great-grandmother¹s dresser and learns the real truth about Julia’s year, a year that changed the course of history, she must decide what to do with her grandmother¹s incredible legacy. Will she keep the real “secret of the year”, or will she be brave enough to follow her own heart?
“Feminism and activism go hand in hand in this romantic novel about women’s empowerment and living life to the fullest. Kris Radish highlights women’s role in the Audubon Society campaign to eradicate feathers from ladies’ hats, and her fictional heroine is a composite portrait of the many courageous women who stood up to plume hunters and the fashion industry alike in the early years of the twentieth century . . . Radish creates an authentic Southern atmosphere dripping with sweat . . . Cameos from historical figures ranging from William Randolph Hearst to Mark Twain help place Julia in a convincing turn-of-the-century context of change and creativity.”
Elly In Bloom by best-selling author Colleen Oakes
For those looking to dive into a great new series
Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique florist in St. Louis. Not bad for a woman who drove away from her life two years earlier when she found her husband entwined with a redheaded artist. Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a badly behaved sheepdog, and a sarcastic assistant she simply calls “Snarky Teenager,” but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next-door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly.
Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for. With the help of her friends, staff, and more than a few tasty sandwiches, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined.
On Grace by Susie Orman Schnall
For women experiencing a huge life change and looking to rediscover themselves
Rated the Best Indie Books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews; a 2014 International Book Awards Chick Lit/Women’s Lit Finalist; and a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards Popular Fiction Bronze Winner
Grace May is actually excited about turning forty in a few months. Now that her boys are both in school and she has a stimulating new writing job, the next chapter in her life can finally begin. She can’t wait to rediscover the intelligent woman buried under the layers of mother and wife. But when Grace suddenly loses her job and receives unexpected news, she stands to lose everything: her marriage, her best friend, and her sense of self. By her fortieth birthday party, Grace will realize who and what matter most. With laughter. With tears. With grace.
“A telling, touching exploration of modern marriage, fidelity, and friendship, Susie Schnall’s debut is riddled with the little truths that make up the texture of women’s daily lives. Fans of Emily Giffin will relate to this engaging read.”
—Beatriz Williams, internationally bestselling author of A Hundred Summers
25 Sense by Lisa Henthorn
For new adults trying to find their path in the world today
2016 USA Best Book Awards General Fiction Finalist
Claire Malone didn’t mean for this to happen when she moved to New York. She just wanted to live the city life and gain experience in television writing, her dream career. It’s not like she meant to reciprocate when her married boss, Sean Vared, sent her flirty e-mails. And you can’t blame her for coming into the office on the weekend when Sean told her he was going to be there . . . alone. She didn’t mean to sleep with him―but hey, she wanted to experience the city life, so no big deal, right? Wrong. By the time Claire wakes up on her 25th birthday, she’s very much in love with Sean. At work, she struggles to hold it together when he passes her desk―the very desk that they used to make love on. Soon Sean has turned his affection to the show’s starring actress, and Claire is devastated. Can she break away from Sean without ruining her barely started career? Will someone find out what happened? Will she ever grow up and stop making stupid mistakes? 25 Sense is about the time in a young woman’s life when the world starts to view her as a responsible adult―but all she feels is lost.
“A book every badass woman should read.”
―San Francisco Book Review
“A mesmerizing read for millennials.”
Hindsight by Mindy Tarquini
A new age spin on classic family expectations with a fresh view of reincarnation
A Redbook Best Books of 2016, and a USA Best Book Awards: General Fiction Finalist
Eugenia Panisporchi, a thirty-three-year-old Chaucer professor who remembers all her past lives, is desperate to change her future. Born this time around into a South Philadelphia Italian-American family so traditional, she and her siblings are expected to marry in birth order, Eugenia lives a simple life―no love connection, no controversy, no complications. Her hope is that the Blessed Virgin Mary (who oversees her soul’s progress) will grant her heart’s desire, the option to choose the circumstances of her next life. But when a student reveals he shares her ability, Eugenia suddenly finds herself setting up a Facebook page and sponsoring a support group for others like her, an oddball odyssey, during which she discovers she must confront her current shortcomings before she can break the cycle and finally live the life of her dreams. A layered contemporary fable, Hindsight reminds us to live this life like it’s the only one we’ll have.
“Hindsight is an evocative and inventive reincarnation tale. Drawing on snippets of wisdom from long-gone literary giants, including Chaucer, Dante, Goethe, and Kipling, Tarquini illustrates the eternal universality of human behavior . . . the narrative emphasizes the importance of acting in the here and now: saying what should be said, forgiving what needs to be forgiven, embracing opportunities to deepen connections with others, and seizing moments of happiness when they’re presented.”
―Foreword Reviews, FIVE STARS, Book of the Day Selection
The Goodbye Year by Kaira Rouda
For soon-to-be empty nesters, or those craving some suburban scandal
Melanie, a perfectionist mom who views the approaching end of parenting as a type of death, can’t believe she has only one more year to live vicariously through her slacker senior son, Dane. Gorgeous mom Sarah has just begun to realize that her only daughter, Ashley, has been serving as a stand-in for her traveling husband, and the thought of her daughter leaving for college is cracking the carefully cultivated façade of her life. Will and his wife are fine―as long as he follows the instructions on the family calendar and is sure to keep secret his whole other life with Lauren, the woman he turns to for fun (and who also happens to have a daughter in the senior class). Told from the points of view of both the parents and the kids,
Told from the points of view of both the parents and the kids, The Goodbye Year explores high school peer pressure, what it’s like for young people to face the unknown of life after high school, and how a transition that should be the beginning of a couple’s second act together―empty nesting―might possibly be the end.
“Kaira Rouda channels Peyton Place meets The Real Housewives of Orange County with her newest book, The Goodbye Year.”
―Working Mother magazine
“The Goodbye Year is an often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, always engaging look at the last year before high school seniors leave their families for good. I devoured it!”
—Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Admissions, So Far Away, and The Arrivals
So Close by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus [Authors of The Nanny Diaries]
For those striving to rise above their given hand in life
2016 USA Best Book Awards Chick Lit/Women’s Lit Finalist
From international #1 best-selling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a story about a girl from the trailer parks of central Florida and the two powerful men who shape her life―one of whom will raise her up to places she never imagined, the other of whom will threaten to destroy her.
Amanda Beth Luker has spent her whole life desperately looking for someone who can show her the way out of her trailer park Florida town. And then, finally, help arrives―in the form of Tom Davis, a successful lawyer with political aspirations who grew up just a few towns over from Amanda. But it’s his wife, Lindsay, who really captures Amanda’s imagination. Strong, smart, and determined, she gives Amanda something she’s never had―a role model. Meanwhile Amanda is introduced to the wealthy, charismatic, and deeply troubled Pax Westerbrook. He clearly desires Amanda, but if she gives in will that move her closer to the life she’s always dreamed of―or make it impossible? Amanda rides Davis’s political success all the way to Washington, where he becomes Senator and will later be tapped for president and even make a bid for the White House. But when Amanda starts to suspect, and later confirms, his moral indiscretions, her loyalty is tested. Will a girl from a trailer park even be believed if she goes public with damning information? Will she be willing to risk losing everything she’s gained?”
“[So Close] speaks to all of the craziness we’re enduring on account of this year’s U.S. presidential election.”
―Redbook Magazine, “21 Books By Women You Have To Read this Summer”
“Guarded, genuine Amanda makes a compelling heroine in McLaughlin and Kraus’s most moving outing yet.”
Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare
COMING SOON APRIL 2017: For those looking to embark on a little time travel for a fresh take on Sex and The City
There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York’s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond. Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys – from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks – all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves – and not to settle in love or life.
“Reading Forks, Knives, and Spoons is like having your best girlfriend take you by the hand and tell you a story. A story you want to sit and listen to until the very end.”
―Ann Hood, New York Times bestselling author of The Book That Matters Most