A fact of life of working at a book review is that I am often asked for book club suggestions.
True story: My typically easy-going grandmother once left an “urgent” voicemail. Channeling Miss Clavel, I had a sinking feeling that Something is not right! I called her back immediately . . . and it turned out that her book club’s title nominations were due that week, and she just wanted some last-minute recs. (Whew.)
You can find three book club recommendations in every issue of BookPage. In June, book clubs columnist Julie Hale suggested The Nobodies Album (Carolyn Parkhurst), Private Life (Jane Smiley) and Lives Like Loaded Guns (Lyndall Gordon). In July, the picks are Healer (Carol Cassella), The Distant Hours (Kate Morton) and The Widower’s Tale (Julia Glass). Each of these books are available in paperback.
There is no way BookPage could recommend every book club-worthy book every month, but here I’d like to give a shout-out to a book I’m currently reading for my book club—and loving.
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a memoir of the author’s year in a women’s prison. It is a fascinating story—first, of how an upper-middle-class Smith graduate ended up in prison in the first place (it was for a 10-year-old money laundering crime), and then, how she fared in the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut.
If you have ever wanted to know more about the daily life of a prisoner, how our legal system works or why the number of women incarcerated has increased by 300% in the last 10 years, then you have to read this book.
Kerman is skilled at depicting the dynamics within the prison and the vast variety of emotions she felt while she was incarcerated. This is the perfect book club book: It’s a page-turner in its own right, but it will also lead to conversation about justice and current events. The paperback of Orange is the New Black (Spiegel & Grau) came out on March 8 of this year.
What has been a successful pick for your book club? Does your book club tend to have better discussion about fiction or nonfiction?