BIRL Book Club is Back!

Hello! It is a new year and I am ready to get back on the horse of READING. Do you want to join me? This time around I won’t be having anyone writing up posts for me, but if you want to read along with the list I am looking for a hearty book club discussion in comments.

First, though, I need to build the list! I am looking for book recommendations. Anything that you highly recommend that you have read recently/semi-recently, please tell me about it! Some of you have already left awesome suggestion on instagram and twitter! This means that you are already entered to win this year’s book giveaway! Surprise! 

If you haven’t left a suggestion yet and would like to win the full reading list, please leave a book recommendation in comments! One lovely winner (chosen at random) will be receiving a big box of books from Powell’s! 

All kinds of books are welcome! YA, Non-Fiction, Genre, etc. I want it all. books written by POC and women are especially welcome, but I guess I can read a few books by the mens too.

I will be posting the list and an estimated schedule in the next two weeks. I hope some of you will join me in reading along!

47 thoughts on “BIRL Book Club is Back!”


    Recently read “Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld (who, despite the confusing name, is a lady). Not normally my type of read, but I highly enjoyed it.

    “Orleans” by Sherri L Smith was excellent – dystopian YA set in future walled-off New Orleans.

    “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Beautiful, heartbreaking. About the Nigerian civil war.

    “Brown Girl Dreaming.” OMG so beautiful. It’s written in verse, which at first was a little odd, but it totally works. Memoir about a young girl growing up in the south and Brooklyn.

    Ok cutting myself off now.

    1. Ahh i really wanted to like Eligible, but it drove me a little crazy – I kept tracking Pride & Prejudice, and I found it super distracting (and this version of Lizzie annoyed the heck out of me).

      1. Interesting! For me it was actually MORE enjoyable because I could follow the P&P plot points – I didn’t have to stress about any outcomes, because I knew (generally) what was going to happen 🙂

  2. I’m so excited!! Okay, let’s see…

    ‘The Unthinkable’ by Amanda Ripley is about how people react to natural disasters and it’s one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read.

    If you like gritty Southern memoir, check out ‘The Liar’s Club’ by Mary Karr.

    I’m pretty sure you’ve read the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness because I see ‘A Discovery of Witches’ in the above photo but that series is one of my favorites.

    Also ‘The Girl with All the Gifts’ by M.R. Carey is post-apocalyptic, more or less about zombies but also about the relationships between people as they struggle to survive, and is fantastic.

    ‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain is about Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife. It was lovely.

    For YA, I have always loved Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy (first in the series is ‘Sabriel.’) It’s written by a man, but all three books feature incredibly strong, interesting and kick-ass female leads.

    ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern is about a magical Victorian circus and I loved it.

    Another non-fiction book I loved was Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Nickel and Dimed’ about poverty in the US.

    For fiction, I’m in the middle of ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel and it’s great so far. For non-fiction, I’m reading ‘A Voyage Long and Strange’ by Tony Horwitz is about the ‘discovery’ of America and I love the way it’s written. (Lindi’s reading his book ‘The Confederates in the Attic’ and it’s just as great.) I’m all about those conversational non-fiction books that are just as captivating as fiction!

    Okay… I’m going to stop now. 😉

    1. Love love loooooove Station Eleven – I was so sad when I finished it, and wished I could re-set and read it all over again. I also really enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts, and am a huge fan of the Deborah Harkness series. And Sabriel was one of my favorite books when I was younger! I feel like we are reading twins – any other fiction recommendations??

  3. Well I stayed up until 2 am last night reading America’s First Daughter, so it must be good! It is about Thomas Jeffersons oldest daughter, and is really interesting historical fiction.

    The Wright Brothers by David Mccullough was also so fascinating and not dry at all. It is non fiction.

  4. A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison – I read this because it my friends sister is the author, no other reason then to support her…. but it blew me away, such good writing and definitely a page turner!

  5. I just finished The Wonder and really liked it. Also loved a very different (middle grade) novel called Wonder. Both would make for excellent discussion.

    1. I listened to the audio version of The Wonder and found it painfully slow… until the end. Also I keep thinking about it weeks later. So clearly it had an impact on me. I agree it’d be a good one for discussion!

  6. I really loved 11/22/63 by Stephen King – its about a man who finds a way to travel back to one specific point in time, and decides to live in the past and try to prevent the assassination of JFK (and about the subsequent ripple effect). Totally engrossing and fascinating.

    I recently finished The Woman on the Orient Express – its a light read and is loosely based on Agatha Christie’s actual experiences and inspiration for The Murder on the Orient Express. Very fun!

    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – super heartbreaking and emotional and really well written.

    And, the first in a series that I love to curl up with on a cold day – Still Life by Louise Penny. This series is set in a small town in Quebec, and follows the Chief Inspector of the Surete du Quebec.

      1. Nope! The Roald Dahl Bio; The Accursed (Joyce Carol Oates); Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (Barbara Kingsolver); Truth & Beauty (Ann Patchett); The UnAmericans (Molly Antopol); Sag Harbor (Colson Whitehead); The Robber Bride (Margaret Atwood); The Light Between Oceans (ML Stedman); The Age of Miracles (Karen Thompson Walker); Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Joan Didion); An Untamed State (Roxanne Gay); The Antelope in the Living Room (Melanie Shankle); and The View from Castle Rock (Alice Munro).

  7. Homegoing by Yaa Gynasi was the absolutely best book I read last year. Highly recommend! I also really enjoyed Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

  8. I’m a fan of Colson Whitehead so I’m eager to read his newest book (The Underground Railroad) but lots of his previous books would be good too (The Intutionist, and Sag Harbor, are 2 favorites).

  9. EEPPPP! BOOOOOKSSSS! 🙂 Here are my submissions for consideration (please forgive if I’m repeating anything from last round. I can’t recall)

    Thrive is a non-fiction from Arianna Huffington (of HuffPost) about redefining our concepts of success, especially as women, and leaning into mindfulness and wonder. When she was first starting HuffPost, she passed out alone in her office from exhaustion and hit her head on the way down. It was a sobering moment for her, and she went on this quest to research why we drive ourselves so far and ways to correct course. It’s a great mix of storytelling and hard research, and now she’s got a whole movement based on it called Thrive Global.

    I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley is one of my all-time favorite essay collections about the hilarious mishaps and struggles of your twenties. She has a captivating, sometimes dark humor that I think you’d LOVE.

    Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The setup: a black L&D nurse gets assigned to a white supremacist couple and their newborn. As she’s cleaning the baby up, the dad requests that her boss assign someone else to their case and that no people of color be allowed to touch their baby. So…what happens when the baby goes into arrest while the black nurse is alone in the nursery with him? I love Picoult because all of her books are multi-POV and you get to get inside the head of the racist dad, the black nurse, and the caseworker who is well-meaning but doesn’t recognize her own prejudices.

  10. Awesome! I love a good book club. Some good stuff I’ve read in the last couple of years: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell; The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; HeartSick by Chelsea Cain; The Chronos Files series by Rysa Walker. I’m also currently reading I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi (aka Awesomely Luvvie) and it’s amazing – would probably make for some great discussions!

  11. A sci-fantasy novel I LOVED is NK Jemison’s The Killing Moon, first in a duology set in an mythological Egypt-flavored world. Her Broken Earth Trilogy I’ve heard is superb, but I haven’t read it yet (it’s on my list).

    1. I LOOOOVE the Broken Earth Trilogy (the first two, at least) – The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate. BUT, fair warning, bad things happen to children.

  12. YES I’m so excited! Selfishly, here are some books that are on my list that i’ve been meaning to read. Maybe you can help me check them off the list! 🙂

    – California, by Edan Lepucki
    – Between the World and Me, Ta Nehisi Coates
    – The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
    – The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan, Laurence Lerner
    – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
    – Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
    – A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
    – 1Q84, Haruki Murakami

    So many books, so little time!

  13. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum – YA book that was one of my very favorites in 2016. I read it twice in the three weeks I had it from the library.

    You can’t go wrong with anything by Tana French.

    Other 2016 favorites:

    The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

    The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood (the jacket description is terrible but the book is excellent)

    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

    1. I super love Tana French! The Likeness is my favorite but I’ll continue to devour any story she decides to tell!

      1. @LifeSheWrote – have you read her newest, The Trespasser, yet? I was floored by it; The Likeness has always been my favorite, but it has been usurped by The Trespasser.

        1. Dude! YES! I felt the same way! I was not super in love with The Secret Place (I mean, I liked it, but it wasn’t my FAVORITE and drifted a little too far into magical realism for what I was hoping for) and so I was so excited that The Trespasser seemed right back on track with what I love about her books. So fun!

  14. Dietland by Sarai Walker needs to go on your list!
    It’s incredebly funny, true and also feminist, and entertaining and beautiful.

  15. Yay books! Here are a few that I can recommend:
    My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
    Willful Disregard by Lena Andersson
    M Train by Patti Smith
    Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo
    Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
    Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

  16. I recommend the following:
    “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond
    “Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward
    “You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain” by Phoebe Robinson (SO GOOD, she’s one of the two dope queens)
    “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
    “The Folded Clock: A Diary” by Heidi Julavits (I feel like you’d particularly love this, Lauren)

  17. There are too many amazing choices on this list that make me want to shout +1 +1 !! 🙂

    I recently read “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murami and I loved it so much that I picked up “Kafka by the Shore”

    Both are incredible and I loved them so much! It made me wish I knew Japanese because I wonder how different the books are in his original language (he’s Japanese) versus written in English. They are beautiful, poetic …. about love, family, time and space. He uses metaphors and dreams almost interchangeably to the point where reality almost disappears.

    I normally read non-fiction but I am hooked.

  18. I vote we read (or reread) The Handmaid’s Tale in preparation for its release on Hulu.
    I will second the votes for 11/22/63 (even tho white male author) and Between the World and Me, but only with his interview about how he feels having had it become a best seller and token required white guilt reading.
    If nobody has read The Color of Water by James McBride, I love that memoir about a black man and his white mother.
    I also loved Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.
    The most lasting thing I read this year was Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which, while not really book club discussion-worthy, is super interesting and good for learning about women’s bodies.
    The Storied life of AJ Fikry
    Anything by Mary Roach (although I liked Stiff best)

  19. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayyi was hilarious. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae. You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. All great reads!

  20. I’m SO glad you’re doing this again!! Yay books and other people with whom to talk about them!!

    My votes for the Book Club:
    Station 11 (Emily St. John Mandel) (“Survival is insufficient” YES.)
    Something by Liane Moriarty (Like The Last Anniversary or The Husband’s Secret)
    Something by Tana French (Like The Likeness or her most recent The Trespasser)
    Something by Barbara Kingsolver (Like The Prodigal Summer or Flight Behavior)
    Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
    Everything Matters (Ron Currie Jr.)
    The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh)

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