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Rogue Book Group Choices, Part 1

By Susan Maguire

Is your book group in a rut? Are folks sick of reading World War II-era historical fiction? Is your attendance dwindling? Maybe it’s time to go rogue.

Booklist hosted a live event (sponsored by NoveList) where we gathered some book-group experts to talk about what makes a good selection, how to pick something unexpected for your group without causing a mass exodus, and lots and lots of suggestions for when you want to take your book group rogue. You can watch the full video of the event here—and hear why Liz Kirchhoff from Barrington Area Library, Kathy Sexton from Skokie Public Library, and Katharine Solheim from Unabridged Books in Chicago chose each one. For those interested in going rogue, here’s part 1 of the list of books discussed.

American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang

A good starter graphic novel. Although geared toward children, adults will find much to discuss in the way Yang addresses different forms of Chinese and Chinese-American representation. Plus, the weird ending makes for some good discussion.

First Second Books, 2006.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

The Arrival

by Shaun Tan

In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He's embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life—he's leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Scholastic, 2007.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

The Best We Could Do

by Thi Bui

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

Abrams, 2017.

Click to Read the Booklist Starred Review.

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden

This was a bestseller, which might spark curiosity. A great choice for groups that liked The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. May also generate discussion about the history of Russia and paganism versus Christianity.

Del Rey, 2017.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Reading Guide.

Click to Read the Booklist Starred Review.

Binti

by Nnedi Okorafor

Science fiction can be scary for book groups, but don’t be afraid, especially if Black Panther piqued your interest. Binti is about space, sure, but it’s really about race and other meaty issues.

Tor, 2017.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

A Bollywood Affair

by Sonali Dev

A romance featuring an arranged marriage and an Indian celebrity. Don’t let the lightness of the story turn you off—there is a lot to talk about surrounding cultural expectations, especially for women.

Kensington, 2014.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

by Roz Chast

Dealing with aging parents is a familiar book group topic. This graphic novel includes art and photography that will enhance the conversation.

Bloomsbury, 2014.

Click for a Reading Guide.

Click to Read the Booklist Review.

Susan Maguire is the Senior Editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist.

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