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Book Club Choices from LibraryReads: Author Debuts

LibraryReads is the monthly nationwide library staff picks list for adult fiction and non-fiction. Each month, staff in public libraries vote on their favorite upcoming books that they loved reading and cannot wait to share. The list represents a broad range of reading tastes and showcases a variety of new titles, including buzzed-about debuts, genre favorites, bestselling authors, and lesser-known midlist titles that public library staff are raving about.

With 5 years of lists under our belts—over 500 titles!—we wanted to partner with Book Club Central to direct readers to titles that would be perfect for book discussion groups. To kick off our first post, let’s take a look at a few debut novels from over the years.


The Ensemble: A Novel

by Aja Gabel

Set against the backdrop of the highly-competitive and merciless world of classical music, this brilliantly written debut is an exquisite portrait of a group friendship spanning decades. Gabel weaves a lyrical tale of four young musician’s journeys and their complex, yet resilient, relationships with each other. This would be good for book groups who enjoy literary fiction and layered character portrayals.

Riverhead, 2018.


If the Creek Don’t Rise: A Novel

by Leah Weiss

It is 1970 and pregnant teenager Sadie Blue is trapped in a marriage with her horrific moonshiner husband Roy in an Appalachian mountain town. Their friends and neighbors live stark, gritty lives that are written with vivid and captivating detail. Hope and strength shine through in bits and pieces in this terrific debut. Weiss’s fresh voice captivates the reader as this tale spins from several perspectives that draw the reader into Sadie’s world. Readers will be riveted until the last page, and the examination of Sadie’s struggles offers much to discuss.

Sourcebooks Landmark, 2017


Ginny Moon: A Novel

by Benjamin Ludwig

In this amazing debut, Ludwig effectively captures the voice, thought process, and behaviors of a young autistic girl who has escaped a harrowing living situation and has finally settled into a new “forever” home. Unfortunately, she becomes obsessed with returning to her old home to find her “baby doll,” jeopardizing both her own and her new family’s safety. Groups who prefer character-driven novels will be captivated by this truly original character.

Park Row, 2017.


Did You Ever Have A Family

by Bill Clegg

Clegg’s devastatingly beautiful fiction debut is the portrait of a community in the aftermath of a tragedy. June Reid, the broken woman at the epicenter of the novel, is struggling with a loss so profound that she is unable to see beyond her grief, unaware that it has touched many people. Clegg handles the stories of a voluminous amount of characters with heartbreaking sensitivity and insight. Perfect for groups exploring the human condition as well as those who are looking for a myriad cast of characters to discuss.

Gallery/Scout Press, 2015.


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