25 book club books to discuss and debate

Discover our edit of the best book club books, guaranteed to spark thoughts and opinions from everyone around the table. 

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing a new book for yourself, let alone for a book club; the added challenge of trying to appease a wide range of tastes can make it a real headache. That's why we've collected our favourite book club reads, including both new releases and literary masterpieces, all of which provide multiple angles for group discussion and healthy (or not!) debate. 

The Women

by Kristin Hannah

Frankie McGrath, a nursing student in 1965 California, has her world transformed when she's told "women can be heroes, too." Joining the Army Nurses Corps to follow her brother to Vietnam, Frankie faces the harsh realities of war and its aftermath. Amidst chaos and heartbreak, she finds strength in female friendship and learns the value of sacrifice and commitment. This emotionally charged novel illuminates the often-forgotten stories of women who bravely served their country. With a memorable heroine, searing insights, and lyrical beauty, The Women is a poignant tale of courage guaranteed to move any book club.

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The King's Witches

by Kate Foster

A beautifully written yet chilling tale, Kate Foster’s The King’s Witches tells the story of three women: Princess Anna of Denmark, betrothed to King James VI of Scotland, her pious lady-in-waiting Kirsten Sorenson, a woman with her own secret desires, and Jura, a young housemaid known for her healing charms. Based on a true story, this novel gives a voice to the women whose lives were forever changed by the impact of the sixteenth-century Scottish witch trials. 

One of the Good Guys

by Araminta Hall

Cole, considered the 'perfect husband,' is left shocked when his wife, Mel, decides to leave him. Seeking isolation, he moves to the coast and befriends Lennie, an artist leading a similar solitary existence in a precarious cliff-edge cottage. However, their lives are upended when two young women vanish nearby while on a protest walk on the coast. Now at the center of a police investigation and media storm, it becomes clear that Cole and Lennie may not know each other as well as they thought. Full of suspense, mystery and twists, this feminist thriller is sure to spark debate.

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by Hernan Diaz

Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Trust is undoubtedly one of the novels of the year. Everyone in 1920s New York knows of Benjamin and Helen Rask, the Wall Street tycoon and the daughter of bohemian aristocrats. They live in a sphere of untold wealth, but what is the true cost of their fortune? This mystery sits at the heart of a bestselling novel that all of New York has read. But, like all stories, there are different perspectives. Hernan Diaz tracks these narratives across a century and documents the truth-bending power of money, with provocative revelations at each turn.

The Lamplighters

by Emma Stonex

A BBC Radio 2 Book Club recommendation and a Sunday Times bestseller, The Lamplighters is a mystery, a love story and a ghost story all at once. Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. What happened to the three men, out on the tower? Twenty years later, the women they left behind have been driven apart by the tragedy. Still struggling to move on, Helen, Jenny and Michelle are approached by a writer who wants to know their side of the story. But by confronting the past, dark fears and hidden truths begin to surface. Inspired by real events, Emma Stonex weaves a suspenseful mystery with an unforgettable story of love and grief.

Maude Horton's Glorious Revenge

by Lizzie Pook

London, 1850. Constance Horton has disappeared. Maude, her older sister, knows only that Constance abandoned the apothecary they call home, and, disguised as a boy, boarded a ship bound for the Arctic. She never returned. When she finds Constance’s journal, it becomes clear that the truth is being buried by sinister forces. To find answers Maude must step into London’s dark underbelly, and into the path of dangerous, powerful men. The kind of men who seek their fortune in the city’s horrors, from the hangings at Newgate to the ghoulish waxworks of Madame Tussaud’s. This brilliant adventure is sure to keep book club members turning the pages.

Bright Young Women

by Jessica Knoll

January 1978. Tallahassee. When sorority president Pamela Schumacher is startled awake at 3 a.m. by a strange sound, she’s shocked to encounter a scene of implausible violence – two of her friends dead and two others, maimed. The only person to see the man responsible, she is thrust into a terrifying mystery, entangled in a crime that captivates public interest for more than four decades. This extraordinary novel is inspired by the real-life sorority targeted by America's first celebrity serial killer in his final murderous spree. 


by Julia May Jonas

A bold, razor-sharp and timely debut, Julia May Jonas' Vladimir takes us deep into the emotional conflict between the strictures of morality and the impulses of the heart. The book's unnamed narrator: a popular English professor whose husband is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. When the narrator then becomes infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their relationship comes close to capsizing. An edgy and assured literary debut, mapping the personal and political battlefields of our current moment.

Everything's Fine

by Cecilia Rabess

This stunning debut is a whip-smart exploration of an age-old question: what have you got to lose when you fall in love? When Jess first meets Josh at their Ivy League college she dislikes him immediately: an entitled guy in chinos, ready to take over the world. Meanwhile, Jess is almost always the only Black woman in their class. And Josh can’t accept that life might be easier for him because he’s white. But when they end up working for the same investment bank, their tempestuous friendship soon turns into an electrifying romance, forcing Jess to question who she is and what she's willing to compromise for love. 

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by Elaine Hsieh Chou

When Ingrid Yang finally completes her dissertation on canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou she never wants to hear about 'Chinese-y' things ever again. Finding a strange note in the Chou archives, she thinks she has found a way out of the academic labyrinth. But Ingrid is accidentally in deep, and the note leads to a huge discovery, one which upsets her life and the lives of those around her. Perfect for fans of Yellowface, Disorientation is an uproarious and big-hearted satire – alive with sharp edges, immense warmth, and a cast of unforgettable characters. It asks big questions about society, particularly: who gets to tell our stories?

Shuggie Bain

by Douglas Stuart

Set in a poverty-stricken Glasgow in the early 1980s, Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning debut is a heartbreaking story which lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty and the limits of love. Agnes Bain has always dreamed of greater things, but when her husband abandons her she finds herself trapped in a decimated mining town with her three children, and descends deeper and deeper into drink. Her son Shuggie tries to help Agnes long after her other children have fled, but he too must abandon her to save himself. Shuggie is different, and he is picked on by the local children and condemned by adults. But he believes that if he tries his hardest he can escape this hopeless place.

Not Alone

by Sarah K Jackson

In the aftermath of a devastating microplastics storm that decimated humanity, Not Alone follows the journey of Katie and her son in a tale that intertwines heart-stopping adventure with the profound bond between a mother and child. Trapped within the confines of their apartment, they navigate a world where survival hinges on scavenging for sustenance. Katie, braves the dangers outside while Harry remains sheltered, oblivious to the truth of their existence. This remarkable debut delves into themes of love, trust, and hope while unmasking the imminent peril that looms over humanity as a whole.

The Miniaturist

by Jessie Burton

It's an autumn day in 1686 in Amsterdam, and eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a splendid house in the finest part of the city. She has come to marry esteemed trader Johannes Brandt, but instead his sharp-tongued sister opens the door. When she encounters Johannes he presents her with an amazing wedding gift: a cabinet representing their home. It is furnished by an enigmatic miniaturist, whose creations not only mirror but begin to predict the increasing peril they find themselves in . . .

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The Women Could Fly

by Megan Giddings

The Women Could Fly is a speculative feminist novel for our times, set in a time where magic is reality, and single women are monitored in case they turn out to be witches. Josephine Thomas has heard a plethora of theories about her mother's death: that she was abducted, murdered and that she was a witch. This is a concerning accusation, because women who act strangely – especially Black women – can soon find themselves being tried for witchcraft. Facing the prospect of a State-mandated marriage, Jo decides to honour one last request written in her mother's will.

The Mercies

by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

A Richard & Judy Book Club 2021 pick and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club read for 2020, this evocative novel was inspired by the real Vardø storm and the subsequent witch hunt. When a catastrophic storm wipes out almost the entirety of the male population of the island, the women who are left, still grieving for their men, are forced to fend for themselves. Eighteen months later, the sinister new commissioner, Absolom Cornet, arrives with his young wife Ursa. Ursa sees independent women for the first time in her life and finds herself drawn to Maren, the young woman who helps her navigate life in this harsh new world. 


by Emma Donoghue

Now a major film as well as a Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Room is a profoundly affecting book for all types of reader. Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing. Jack is excited about turning five. He lives with his Ma in a small room, with a skylight and a door that is always locked. His only friends are Ma, and the cartoon characters he sees on TV. Then one day, Ma admits there is a world outside. Narrated in Jack's voice, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. 

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Dear Mrs Bird

by AJ Pearce

As bombs fall on 1940s London, Emmy dreams of assisting the war effort as a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, after a misunderstanding over a job advert, Emmy instead ends up as a typist for formidable agony aunt, Henrietta Bird. But Mrs Bird won’t answer letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, so what can Emmy do but try to help these desperate women herself? A Richard & Judy Book Club Pick and Sunday Times bestseller, Dear Mrs Bird is a sweet and uplifting wartime tale of bravery, friendship and love. 

Once a Monster

by Robert Dinsdale

Victorian London is brought to life as Robert Dinsdale expertly blends historical writing with ancient myth. Ten-year-old orphan Nell belongs to a crew of mudlarks who work a stretch of the Thames. She spends her days searching for treasure in the mud in order to appease her master, Benjamin Murdstone. That is until she finds a body on the shore – a seven-foot matted creature with horns. As she ventures closer the figure draws breath and Nell is forced to make a decision which will change her life forever. This imaginative retelling of the Minotaur transcends genre, making it the perfect book club read. 

The Centre

by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi

This is the ultimate book with twists to get everyone talking. Anisa spends her days writing subtitles for Bollywood films in her London flat, longing to be a translator of literature. Her boyfriend, Adam, on the other hand, has an extraordinary aptitude for language - or so Anisa thinks. After learning to speak Urdu practically overnight, Adam reveals his secret - the Centre: an elite programme that guarantees fluency in any language in just ten days. But when Anisa enrols and is quickly seduced by all that it's made possible, she soon realizes the disturbing, hidden cost of its services.

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies

by Maddie Mortimer

Something is on the move in Lia's body: something shape-shifting, gleeful and malevolent. And it's spreading... When a sudden diagnosis changes Lia's world, the gap between her past and her present starts to crumble. Secrets awake within her, and the outer landscape blends with that within. And Lia and her family must face the most difficult of questions: how do you die with style, when you're just not ready to go? Utterly heart-breaking yet darkly funny, Maddie Mortimer’s debut is a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a celebration of desire, forgiveness, and the darkness within us all.


by Sarah May

Determined to get away from her dead-end hometown, Becky Sharp sets out to make a place for herself in high society and reach the top of the career ladder – no matter who she has to step on to get there. Following a very modern heroine through 90s tabloid era London, Becky charts the rise and fall of Sarah May's titular protagonist as she rises through the ranks at Mercury newspaper. Scoop after scoop, Becky's downfall looms as she becomes more and more involved in every scandal the newspaper publishes. Inspired by the classic Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp is a morally grey character to provide plenty of food for thought. 

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The Axeman's Jazz

by Ray Celestin

In the jazz-filled, mob-ruled streets of 1910s New Orleans, a ruthless serial killer called the Axeman stalks the city, demanding that people must play jazz or risk becoming his next victim. Three individuals set out to catch and unmask him, each for their own reasons. Detective Michael Talbot heads up the official investigation, but is left struggling for leads and battling his own grave secret. Former detective Luca d'Andrea, now working for the mafia, just as much need to solve the case as the authorities. And Ida, a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency and dreaming of a better life – until she stumbles across a clue that leads her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, into terrible danger . . .

Sixteen Horses

by Greg Buchanan

Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations. In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. This story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment will keep your book club readers gripped until the last page.

People Like Her

by Ellery Lloyd

Another Richard & Judy Book Club Pick, this smart debut thriller from husband-and-wife writing team Ellery Lloyd takes a compelling look at the dark side of social media and influencer culture. Emmy Jackson is better known to her online fans as Instagram sensation Mamabare, famous for telling it like it is when it comes to modern parenthood. But not everything you see online can be believed, and someone out there knows the truth about Emmy and intends to make her pay . . . 

Emily Noble's Disgrace

by Mary Paulson-Ellis

After trauma cleaner Essie Pound makes a gruesome discovery in an abandoned Edinburgh boarding house, she quickly meets a young policewoman, Emily Noble, who has her own hidden reasons for solving the case. As the duo journey deep into the heart of a forgotten family, fragmented memories of their own traumatic histories are thrown up by the investigation – something Emily has spent a lifetime attempting to bury, and Essie a lifetime trying to lay bare. Introduce a Scottish crime-thriller like no other to your book club with the third novel from Mary Paulson-Ellis, bestselling author of The Other Mrs Walker.

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