Book Club: 12 Tops Picks For The First Year Of Your Book Club

It's your first book club and it is your turn to pick the month's book. Here are a year's worth of ideas to get you started.

You and your friends have finally decided to jump into the world of book clubs. All of you are excited about meeting once a month and having themed potlucks, but in all the excitement you have forgotten one thing: the book to be picked for that month. Whether you and your book club friends decide to come up with a list of books for the entire year ahead of time or make the book choices one month at a time, here are a list of ideas for a year's worth of books to get you started.

* To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Not only is this book an easy read, there are tons of valuable lessons to be learned. Atticus Finch is a heroic father figure who is single-handedly raising his two children while representing a black man in a legal battle at a time when it was very dangerous to stand up for a black man. His two children Scout and Jem, meanwhile, learn valuable lessons about judging others, about sticking up for what they believe and about the true meaning of friendship.

* The World According to Garp by John Irving: This book can best be described as both strangely complex and yet hauntingly accurate in its portrayal of human emotion. From Garp's conception to many other tragic events in his life, you will be saddened to leave his character and his life when you finish the book. The range of discussion that can occur from the many episodes in this book are endless and may consume two book club meetings!

* Naked by David Sedaris: Granted, this book may not be everybody's cup of tea; however, we must remind ourselves that one of the reasons behind a book club is to be exposed to literature we may not have been previously exposed to. This book is a hilarious take on Sedaris' own upbringing, complete with characters out of his own life that you will swear he made up.

* Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik: The best thing about this book is that it is essentially about the evolution of a group of friends through their monthly book club. Hilarious at times and sad at others, an all-female book club will appreciate the lives these characters lead and will be able to relate to one or more of the "Angry Housewives."

* Life of Pi by Yann Martel: This book is absolutely sensational. As you read the book about a young boy trapped on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a Bengal tiger, you find yourself caught up in the almost absurd and tense relationship between the young boy and the animals.



* The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: Although this book isn't exactly Pulitzer Prize winning material, the fictional tale spun by Mr. Brown is intense enough to make most readers not want to put the book down. This book deals with the author's theory about religion (Christianity, specifically) and the mystery of the Holy Grail. While not all members may subscribe to the author's theories, the theories themselves will make for great conversation and debate.

* The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank: You will be hard pressed to find a girl this age as strong and full of life as Anne Frank. Forced to live in hiding from the Nazis in World War II, Anne details her life through her diary, remaining optimistic despite her dire situation.

* Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This novel brilliantly details a colorful South American love triangle. Book club members can have endless debates about respectful love versus passionate love.

* Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding: This hilarious take on a single thirty-something woman is brilliant. Bridget Jones keeps a diary in which she accounts for her current weight, the weight she has lost (or gained), the number of cigarettes she has smoked, the number of drinks she has had and the number of times she has had sex. Female book club members everywhere will be delighted to read about a woman who is not skinny and totally in control. Bridge Jones is neurotic about everything in her life including her fluctuating weight, her crazy love life and her equally neurotic friends.

* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: Sure, this may be a children's book, but trust me when I tell you it is wonderful. A young boy gets accepted into a school of wizardry after years of living his life with unloving relatives. By the end of the book, you will be itching to read all of the Harry Potter books.

* Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: This novel about a man who lives in a world where your thoughts are not always your own and when the history of your country is constantly changing based on the government's whim is relevant in this day and age when we worry about our security.

* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: There's nothing like a classic romance to bring your first book club year to an end. This story about a "plain" woman who struggles though life until she becomes a governess at an estate where she begins a dramatic "romance," of sorts, with the master of the house, Mr. Rochester, is superbly written.

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