When birds are chirping outside the windows and tulips are sprouting all around, springtime is truly in the air! And with this blossoming period of change comes many new and exciting book club reads. Whether your club indulges in twisty thrillers that keep you up at night or your crew loves to sink into passionate stories of friendship and growth, I have just the book recs to suit your needs. Check out some of my favorite reads that I’ve been devouring and chatting about this season. And for even more book recommendations and club resources, check out Book Club Favorites—online or on Facebook!
Book Club Picks: 9 Irresistible Books I Flew Through This Spring
Jax’s sister, Lexie, is known to have periodic manic episodes, most recently resulting in her pushing Jax away for over a year. So when Jax receives nine missed calls from Lexie, she assumes Lexie is in the middle of another episode. Unfortunately, the matter was much more serious. The next day, Jax learns that Lexie tragically drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. Jax must go to the estate and retrieve Lexie’s belongings, but in the process she learns that Lexie was researching the dark family secrets behind the house. As Jax digs further, she realizes her family’s past is far more twisted than she knew. THE DROWNING KIND is a haunting modern-day ghost story and will give your book club quite the chill during the upcoming long days of summer.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.
Be careful what you wish for.
When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.
In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.
A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.
Florence has returned to Atlantic City from college and is determined to swim the English Channel during the summer of 1934. Her sister, Fannie, is pregnant again after losing a baby, and their mother, Esther, just wants to keep her daughters safe and happy. But when tragedy strikes, Esther pulls the entire family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies. Long-buried secrets are brought to the surface, proving that sometimes the act of protecting those we love can quickly turn into an act of betrayal. This is a story of endurance and the human spirit, and it will surely give your club lots to talk about this spring.
“The perfect summer read” (USA TODAY) begins with a shocking tragedy that results in three generations of the Adler family grappling with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets across the course of one summer.
“Rachel Beanland is a writer of uncommon wit and wisdom, with a sharp and empathetic eye for character. She’ll win you over in the most old fashioned of ways: She simply tells a hell of a story.” —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Finalist for The Great Believers
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
If your club loves gripping mysteries, THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME should be next on your list. Hannah’s husband, Owen, disappears, leaving her with his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, and a note reading, “Protect her.” As the mystery of Owen’s disappearance grows increasingly peculiar, Hannah quickly realizes that her husband is not the man he said he was, and his daughter may just be the only link to finding out his true identity. As Hannah and Bailey set out to uncover truths, an evocative family drama unfolds. Prepare to be shocked. This mystery is one you won’t be able to put down.
From internationally bestselling author Laura Dave comes a riveting new suspense novel about a woman’s search for the truth about her husband’s disappearance—no matter the cost.
We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.
With its breakneck pacing, dazzling plot twists, and unforgettable characters, The Last Thing He Told Me is bestselling author Laura Dave’s finest novel yet, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. This propulsive thriller with a heart is for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes.
Three Army wives, Regina, Adelaide, and Sophie, bonded by their book club, were once inseparable. That is, until a betrayal within the group split them apart. Now, eight years later, Regina and Sophie receive an unexpected call from Adelaide. With her husband stationed overseas, Adelaide has no one else to call as she undergoes emergency surgery. Reluctantly, the two friends agree to watch Adelaide’s daughter for her. Once the women reunite, a story of friendship and overcoming past trauma unfolds. This book is all about female friendship, healing old wounds, and learning how to love again. It (literally) has “book club” written all over it!
From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.
Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.
That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.
As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.
Book clubs can always count on Lisa Jewell to craft an impeccable thriller to indulge in. INVISIBLE GIRL follows Saffyre Maddox, who spent three years under the care of a child psychologist. When the sessions finally end, Saffyre is left feeling abandoned and desperate to reconnect to her doctor. She goes to great lengths to get back into her psychologist’s life, and even begins wandering his neighborhood at night. But in this crazed state, Saffyre learns much more about Dr. Fours than she anticipated. And then she disappears. On the other side of the story, Owen Pick, neighbor to the Fours family, has just been suspended from his job after accusations of sexual misconduct. Could this creepy and suspicious man be the cause of Saffyre’s disappearance?
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“I absolutely loved Invisible Girl—Lisa Jewell has a way of combining furiously twisty, utterly gripping plots with wonderfully rich characterization—she has such compassion for her characters, and we feel we know them utterly… A triumph!” —Lucy Foley, New York Times bestselling author
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone returns with an intricate thriller about a young woman’s disappearance and a group of strangers whose lives intersect in its wake.
Young Saffyre Maddox spent three years under the care of renowned child psychologist Roan Fours. When Dr. Fours decides their sessions should end, Saffyre feels abandoned. She begins looking for ways to connect with him, from waiting outside his office to walking through his neighborhood late at night. She soon learns more than she ever wanted to about Roan and his deceptively perfect family life. On a chilly Valentine’s night, Saffyre will disappear, taking any secrets she has learned with her.
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.
Owen lives across the street from the Fours family. The Fours have a bad feeling about their neighbor; Owen is a bit creepy and suspect and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night. Could Owen be responsible? What happened to the beautiful missing Saffyre, and does her disappearance truly connect them all?
Evocative, vivid, and unputdownable, Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller is another “haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author).
BIG SUMMER is a great sunny book to kick off a bright new season of reading! Daphne, a plus-size Instagram model, has built a life of self-love on her digital profile. She’s come a long way from the insecure high school girl she once was. So when her ex–best friend Drue waltzes back into her life asking Daphne to stand as her maid of honor, she is rightfully confused. While she’s hesitant to let Drue in again, the invitation comes with an excuse to spend a weekend at a Cape Cod waterfront mansion. Could accepting Drue’s apology be worth it? This story is all about the power of female friendships and the pitfalls of living life online. It’s the perfect book to share with a friend this spring.
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Sexy and satisfying, Big Summer is the perfect quarantine read.” —USA TODAY
“The beach read to end all beach reads.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Big fun, and then some. It’s empowering and surprising—a reminder to put down the phone and enjoy each moment for what it is.” —The Washington Post
A deliciously funny, remarkably poignant, and simply unputdownable novel about the power of friendship, the lure of frenemies, and the importance of making peace with yourself through all life’s ups and downs. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good in Bed and Best Friends Forever, Big Summer is the perfect escape with one of the most lovable heroines to come to the page in years.
Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.
Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.
A sparkling novel about the complexities of female relationships, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.
Journalist S. Sunny Shelton is infatuated with her idols, Opal and Nev, and jumps at the chance to interview and compile an oral history of the ’70s rock ‘n’ roll duo. Through this fictional recounting, we learn about Opal, a fierce Afro-punk star determined to live out her dream. When British songwriter Nev discovers Opal at a bar one night, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Together, they rise to stardom under Rivington Records. As Sunny dives deeper into her interviews, learning about the pair’s sensational breakup and long-kept secrets, a nasty allegation arises, blowing her entire story up. This book is getting all the buzz for all the right reasons. Don’t miss the chance to discuss it with your own club!
A kaleidoscopic fictional oral history of the beloved rock ’n’ roll duo who shot to fame in 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
It is 1980s New York City, and twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is in search of a new adventure. The recent death of her father is the catalyst behind her life-changing move to the Big Apple, where she can finally confront Ivan, the older man who has traumatically wronged her. Arm in arm with her best friend, Carmen, Phoebe sinks into the haunted artists’ underworld of the East Village. After a combination of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads to some bad decisions, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe descends further into the darkness. The only way to save herself, and her best friend, is to confront the shadows Phoebe’s been running from. This irresistible novel is a perfect way to spice up your club’s reading discussion.
Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2021 by The Millions
New York’s last bohemia—the glittering, decadent downtown club scene of the 1980s—is the setting for this brilliantly winning novel about a smart, vulnerable young woman taking a deep dive into her dark side, essential for fans of Sweetbitter, Fleabag, and books by Patti Smith.
New York, 1984: Twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is a young woman in search of excitement and adventure. But the recent death of her father has so devastated her that her mother wants her to remain home in Baltimore to recover. Phoebe wants to return to New York, not only to chase the glamorous life she so desperately craves but also to confront Ivan, the older man who painfully wronged her.
With her best friend Carmen, she escapes to the East Village, disappearing into an underworld haunted by artists, It Girls, and lost souls trying to party their pain away. Carmen juggles her junkie-poet boyfriend and a sexy painter while, as Astrid the Star Girl, Phoebe tells fortunes in a nightclub and plots her revenge on Ivan.
When the intoxicating brew of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads Phoebe to betray her friend, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe begins an unstoppable descent into darkness. She may have a chance to save herself—and Carmen, if she can find her—but to do it she must face what’s hiding in the shadows she’s been running from—within her heart and in the dangerous midnight streets.
A love letter to gritty 1980s New York City, Astrid Sees All is an irresistible, original novel about female friendship, sex and romance, and what it’s like to be a young woman searching for an identity.
BRONTË’S MISTRESS dives into the scandalous love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson. Lydia has lost both her daughter and mother within the same year, leaving her utterly grief-stricken. But everything changes when Lydia’s son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, arrives. His presence is the refreshing breath of happiness Lydia has been missing. He is handsome, passionate, and nearly twenty years her junior. A steamy affair ensues, but as Branwell confronts some of his inner demons his behavior begins to turn dangerous. Whispers about this affair swirl around the families, and Lydia must save her reputation before the Brontë sisters reveal all her secrets. This captivating historical tale illuminates the courageous and sharp women of that time, perfect for any club.
“[A] meticulously researched debut novel…In a word? Juicy.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
The scandalous historical love affair between Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë, brother to novelists Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, gives voice to the woman who allegedly brought down one of literature’s most famous families.
Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson has tragically lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.
All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ imaginative worlds form the backdrop for seduction.
But their new passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic, and whispers of their romantic relationship spout from Lydia’s servants’ lips, reaching all three Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Mrs. Robinson to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.
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