Belonging to a book club can be a great source of joy and community for any book lover. But actually choosing which books to read next in your book club? That’s not always so easy.
To make things simpler for you, I’ve selected my pick of the best books for book clubs to read and discuss in 2022, including new books, all-time classics, and other award-winning and bestselling books from the last few years.
For more ideas, you can also keep an eye on what I’m reading in The Tolstoy Therapy Book Club.
Which book will you choose to read next in your book club?
The best book club books for 2022
1. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (2021)
- What is it about? An unshowy, intimate novel-cum-fictional memoir about a successful writer and her relationship with her ex-husband and father of her daughters.
- Choose it to discuss: how your relationships have shaped your life, human imperfections, love, and loss.
- Books like Oh William!: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
In Oh William! the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted bestseller offers an open-hearted and fearlessly honest novel about love, loss, family secrets, and oh-so-common human imperfections.
Now in her 60s and settled into a successful writing career, Strout’s heroine Lucy Barton returns to explore her tender and complex relationship with her first husband, William.
2. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb (2019)
- What is it about? A memoir of a therapist who realises that she needs to find her own therapist.
- Choose it to discuss: mental health and experiences with therapy.
- Books like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: Good Morning, Monster by Catherine Gildiner
In a Reddit thread about the best books read in 2022, DarkHeraldMage shares, “This was a featured selection in my Discord book club last month and it was absolutely amazing. It gave us a wonderful insight into the author’s journey but also that of the (anonymized) patients she’d seen and helped. We got to have some wonderful discussions about mental health and removing the stigma of seeking help from a therapist, and it inspired me to finally seek out an appointment for myself to work some long standing issues out.”
3. Haven by Emma Donoghue (2022)
- What is it about? A story of adventure, survival, and faith from the bestselling author of Room.
- Choose it to discuss: faith, survival, and the human urge to explore.
- Books like Haven: Room by Emma Donoghue
In Haven, three men leave the seventh-century world behind them as they set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, guided only by faith.
Yvonne C. Garrett writes for The Brooklyn Rail, “This is a powerful read with careful attention paid to balancing natural and historical detail with a broader exploration of faith, madness, survival, and what it means to be human.”
4. Piranesi by Susanna Clark (2020)
- What is it about? A genre-bending book where nothing is quite what it seems.
- Choose it to discuss: What on earth happened in this book.
- Books like Piranesi: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The winner of The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, Piranesi is a hypnotic story of a man in a house with infinite rooms, endless corridors, and waves that thunder up staircases.
Beejay Silcox writes for The Times Literary Supplement, “The page-turning thrill of Piranesi is watching him puzzle out what we can already see, and guilelessly wander into danger…”
5. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017)
- What is it about? An epic of a Korean immigrant family over four generations as they fight for acceptance, freedom, and riches in 20th-century Japan.
- Choose it to discuss: family, the choices we make, loss, and the path from poverty to wealth.
- Books like Pachinko: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
I finally managed to convince my husband to read Pachinko this month (mostly so we can watch the excellent new adaptation by Apple TV together). It’s one of those remarkably epic books that manages to encompass such a sheer amount of time, change, and human emotion. It’s one of my all-time favourites.
6. City on Fire by Don Winslow (2021)
- What is it about? A compulsively readable thriller that transforms the events at Troy and the founding of Rome into a riveting gangster tale as two criminal empires fight to control New England.
- Choose it to discuss: family ties and conflict, marriage, and duty.
- Books like City on Fire: The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Don Winslow has been one of my guilty pleasure authors these last few years. I first read The Power of the Dog while on the Trans-Mongolian train across Russia, Mongolia, and China a few years ago and was hooked. For City on Fire, his newest release and the first part of a new series, I binged the audiobook over a few days.
7. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)
- What is it about? One of the best books ever written about death and the shortness of life. (And a classic that’s not too difficult to read.)
- Choose it to discuss: death, coming to terms with mortality, and making the most of life.
- Books like The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The subject matter is pretty heavy, sure, but The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the most accessible places to start with Leo Tolstoy – and a fairly easy classic to read. There’s also plenty to discuss as a book club read.
8. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (2021)
- What is it about? An award-winning young adult novel (and soon-to-be Netflix TV series) about tragedy, trauma, and growing up.
- Choose it to discuss: heritage, trust, communities, and speaking out about corruption.
- Books like Firekeeper’s Daughter: There, There by Tommy Orange
In Firekeeper’s Daughter, Daunis Fontaine is an 18-year-old who has never managed to fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When she falls for Jamie, a charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team, she feels like life is finally changing… but soon realizes Jamie is hiding something. When Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, she confirms this – and is also thrust into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.
9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2020)
- What is it about? Twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
- Choose it to discuss: how our upbringing affects us, definitions of home, leaving the place you grew up
- Books like The Vanishing Half: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
For NPR, Maureen Corrigan writes: “As another melodramatic novelist, Charles Dickens, recognized: If you tell people a wild and compelling enough story, they may just listen to things they’d rather not hear.”
10. The Bear by Andrew Krivak (2020)
- What is it about? The last two humans left on earth, a father and daughter living self-sufficiently close to nature.
- Choose it to discuss: humankind’s relationship with nature, the future of our planet, and loss.
- Books like The Bear: Uprooted by Naomi Novak, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Bear was my Tolstoy Therapy Book Club pick for September 2022, after I stumbled upon it for perfect bedtime reading. Nothing much happens, but it’s the calmest, most pared-down take on the end of humankind that you will likely ever read.
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
- I'm also the author of Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps, a book about my time living alone by the mountains.
- If you love books, are feeling a little lost right now, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, join The Sanctuary, my seven-day course to rebalance your life.