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Best Summer Books

What Is the Best Book Your Book Club Has Read?

Real Simple readers share favorite reads.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen Tara Donne

Speaking in Tongues

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. Our book club consisted of military wives all stationed overseas. We related to Sedaris's struggles to learn a foreign language and converse with the locals. We each had our own moments of "What the heck did I just say?" so it really helped with our struggle to adapt to a foreign country.
Andrea Medina
Bakersfield, California
 
 

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. The easy storytelling and unique setting reminded me of the books I used to devour on summer evenings. Who didn’t think about joining the circus as a kid?”
Laura Tully
Middletown, New Jersey

 

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. On page one, you find out that a clique of college students at a small Ivy League university has murdered a member of the group. The rest of this engrossing read, narrated by one of the murderers, reveals why and how they did it. This is the only book I started reading all over again immediately after I had finished it. (I then gave it to my husband and read it over his shoulder.)
Julie van der Zeeuw
Davis, California

 

I would have to say Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre. Nobody finished it, and hardly anyone liked it, but in 12 years of book-club meetings, it actually inspired one of the best discussions we’ve ever had.
Rebecca Legates
Oakland, California

 

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore―I’ve never ever laughed so hard, out loud, reading a book before. Even after we had read the book and discussed it, passages would come to mind and I would just burst into laughter, much to the chagrin of my 13-year-old daughter.
Angela Prater
Wenatchee, Washington

 

The BFG, by Roald Dahl. My “book club” (my boys, ages five and seven) would meet each night eager to discuss the hilarious effects of “whizzpoppers” or their distaste for “snozzcumbers.” In fact, the story was so captivating that my book club would also meet at the breakfast table to reflect on the horrific “Fleshlumpeater” or to discuss whether we might actually meet the queen of England.
Laurel Nelson-Smith
Kamloops, British Columbia

 

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Some hated it, others loved it, but we were all affected by it in some way. Its story of nuclear devastation and the end of the world as we know it made us think about what we would do and what we might be capable of doing. The ending made us wonder if there was a glimmer of hope. Of all the books we’ve read, this one caused the most intense discussions before, during, and even after our official meetings.
Cecelia Wondergem
South Haven, Michigan

 

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, had a profound effect on me. I have always felt that war is not the answer, and this book made that point perfectly clear. Imagine trying to bring about change through education, specifically the education of girls. What a wonderfully novel concept.
Joanna Buergey
Watersmeet, Michigan 

 
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