How do you choose a book for book group?

book for book group


It’s a choice up there with what to name your children or what colour to paint your house, only more important – what book am I going to recommend to book group when it’s my turn to choose?

The first time it was my choice, I went for a book I had read and really enjoyed – Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont. It’s set in Brighton where we live – even our local curry house gets a mention. The main character is a taxi driver, as is one of the members of the book group. How could it fail?

Actually, it did OK, but a few people had mixed feelings. And every time a criticism was murmured of the book I loved, I felt like I was being stabbed in the eye.

After that I decided that it was best for my sanity was to choose something I hadn’t read before, so I wouldn’t take it so personally if somebody didn’t like it.

So I went for Me Cheeta by James Lever which was well-recieved, apart from those members of our group who were rather turned off by the monkey sex. Too vulgar, apparently. You can’t please every body.

My next choice coincided with a Brighton Festival-linked initiative to get all of Brighton reading From Russia With Love, with free copies all over the city. They do that kind of thing round here. We didn’t like it much. Blame the council.

After that I thought it was time to big up the local authors, so I went for (the very good) Contact by Jonathan Buckley. I like the idea of supporting current, local authors. Especially now I’ve got a book out myself, you know that every bit of word of mouth support matters.

But I don’t like to be predictable, so my next choice was Room by Emma Donoghue, which seemed to be the novel of the moment which everybody apart from the members of our book group had read.

And now this week my turn to host and choose has come round again and I am all of a kerfuffle and don’t know what to go for.

Is it time for a classic? Should I be brave and revisit a book I’ve read before? Patti Smith’s Just Kids, which I loved, is out in paperback, maybe that’s the one? I’m going to make lemon cake, which takes me neatly into The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake but maybe that’s too obvious. Plus if we start theming the evening around the book then we’ll all have to squat on the floor if somebody chooses The Tiny Wife.

I just don’t know, what do you suggest?