“My drinking club has a book problem.” It’s cute because it’s true. And it’s true because it was in the New York Times. If your “book” club has turned into “fifteen-minute discussion about character arc and then how many bottles of mid-priced California pinot we can polish off?” club, then you are not alone. And it might be time to rethink your book clubbing M.O. Here are five book clubs that will make you actually want to do your homework.
The Murder Mystery Book Club
The book club for amateur sleuths and those people at the movie theater who like to whisper loudly to the person next to them what’s going to happen next. Whether they’re true crime, Scandinavian thrillers, hard-boiled detective procedurals, or classic whodunits, selections should center on some life-and-death mystery, the grislier the better. Read in installments, meeting after cliffhangers to discuss theories. Whoever cracks the case first gets to pick the next month’s book.
The Coloring Book Club
Haven’t you heard? Adult coloring books are all the rage. Reported to settle the mind, relieve stress, and connect frazzled grownups with their childish abandon, this new generation of coloring books ranges from the fanciful to the meditative to the straight-up fan-fueled. So gather your friends, your colored pencils, and your eye-hand coordination and get drawing. No reading required for those who never read the books anyway, or those who just want to relax with a little creative outlet. If a recruit gives you side-eye for this juvenile theme, tell her you read about it in the New Yorker.
Recommended “reading”: Secret Garden, by Johanna Basford; The Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons; Mehndi Designs Coloring Book, by Marty Noble; The Official Outlander Coloring Book, by Diana Gabaldon
The Involved Parent Reading Club
It’s eleven o’clock, do you know what your children are reading? Do you know what other people’s children are reading? It can be hard as a parent to keep up with your kids’ interests. One minute they’re on Percy Jackson, the next they’re on Crank (literarily, not literally, hopefully). But what does that mean? Are the books on his shelf age-appropriate? Are there difficult themes you should be talking about with her? Might you actually get an inside joke or pop culture reference for once? (“Okay?” “Okay.”) Gather parents with kids of similar ages and discuss not just the books your kids are reading, but the ways in which you might discuss those books with your kids. Ninja-parenting for the win.
Recommended reading: Ask your kid!
Paperback $14.95 | $16.95
The Book Was Better Club
It seems rare these days, the movie that did not originate with a novel, a short story, a comic book, or an article. But not every adaptation is entirely faithful to its source material. Whether you’ve read the book but never seen the movie, seen the movie but never picked up the book, or haven’t experienced either, the text-movie comparison is ripe for book club discussion. Were you surprised, for example, to find that secondary character doesn’t exist in the director’s telling? Did the altered ending leave you lukewarm? Pass the popcorn and the judgment, please.
The Around the World in 80 Books Club
Perhaps we can thank Shakespeare and centuries of British American hegemony for the widely institutionalized bias toward English-language and European literature—only about 3% of books published in the United States are in translation—but there’s a wide world out there with some absolutely breathtaking books from little-acknowledged places. Expand your horizons without leaving the living room with a literary trip around the world. For each meeting, choose an author from a different continent or country. Russia, India, and Japan will be easy, sure, but wait until you get to Luxembourg! It’s like a semester abroad for your book club.
Recommended reading: Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, by Mo Yan; Dinner, by César Aria; Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Concrete, by Thomas Bernhard; My Name Is Red, by Orhan Pamuk