Ladies' Home Journal and Reading Group Choices
have teamed up to bring book clubs a more specific and interesting way to provoke
a lively book discussion! Each month LHJ chooses a book, suitable for book club
reading, and Reading Group Choices' Literary Director, Neely Kennedy, reads the book then write a blog post with the intention of pulling the best parts
Above All Things:
The Peaks and Valleys of Loving an Adventurer
In the February Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection Above All Things, poet turned debut novelist Tanis Rideout takes us on a historical fiction extreme adventure, reimagining the story of mountain climber George Mallory as he joins an expedition in his third attempt to conquer Mount Everest. Rideout’s story takes liberties that include the perspective of George’s wife, Ruth, to whom he has broken a promise not to go. Flashbacks from the couple’s rocky but sentimental romance reveal George’s ambition is bigger, however slightly, than his love for Ruth.
The Historical Taboo of Biracial Relationships
In the January Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection Calling Me Home, debut novelist Julie Kibler tells the story of two unlikely best friends from Texas; Isabelle McAllister, a feeble but sharp witted white woman in her eighties, and her younger sympathetic black hairdresser, Dorrie Mae Curtis. When Isabelle asks Dorrie to drive her to a funeral in “Cincy” Ohio, Dorrie knows that she is the only person with whom Isabelle wants to share the experience - the death of someone of great significance in Isabelle’s unspoken past.
Secrets Buried in the Yard:
A Story of Sisters, Survival, and Salvation
In the December Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection The Death of Bees, novelist Lisa O’Donnell tells the sordid coming-of-age story of two sisters, Marnie and Nelly, who struggle to survive a life of squalid neglect and abuse. Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for one another..
The Obituary Writer
Grief: The Sorrowful Songbird
In the November LHJ Book Club selection, The Obituary Writer, seasoned novelist Ann Hood expertly weaves together the story of two women on the cusp of two distinct eras. Vivien “Birdie” Lowe is a grieving mistress who, following the loss of her lover in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1908, becomes an obituary writer, often honoring the lives of lost loved ones by selecting the perfect verse of poetry. Claire Fontaine, trapped in the role of a stereotypical 1950’s housewife, is torn by the choice to either remain in an unsatisfying marriage or break-up her family to pursue true love with another man, someone who offers her a deeper sense of personal identity.
Hiding in Plain Sight: What if Anne Frank’s Sister Survived the Holocaust?
In the October LHJ Book Club selection Margot, seasoned teen and adult novelist Jillian Cantor continues the story of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Cantor’s imagining focuses on Anne’s sister, Margot, and the fictional premise that she survived the holocaust and lived in Post-War America under the assumed Gentile name Margie Franklin. Desperate not to be discovered, but desperately wanting to reveal herself to the man she loves, Margie struggles to hide her true identity, a burden that becomes increasingly difficult when the film adaption of Anne’s diary is released in 1959 and talk of it is everywhere.
How to Lie, Cheat and Manipulate Your Way to the Top
In the September LHJ Book Club selection Alys, Always, journalist turned first time novelist Harriet Lane instantly captures the reader’s attention as she moves us through a concise psychological thriller. Ignited when a chance accident presents her with the opportunity to manipulate a celebrity author and his family to her great advantage, junior newspaper editor Frances aims to climb the glamorous literati social ladder to dazzling new heights....
The Pathological & the Privileged
In the LHJ Book Club July selection, Tigers in Red Weather, debut author Liza Klaussman tells the Post-World War II story of two cousins, Nick and Helena, and the secrets that undo them. Their dramas span the course of their rocky marriages, only children, and a diabolical murder that turns their high-society hometown of Martha’s Vineyard upside down...
It’s a Hard Knock Life; Orphan Wisdom
In the Ladies' Home Journal Book Club June selection, Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline takes readers on an absorbing and very personal journey, intertwining the stories of a misfit teenage girl, Molly, and a reclusive ninety year old woman, Vivian, who bond over their painful orphan childhoods. Though the two women are brought up in different eras, and Molly's modern experience is less harsh than Vivian's thanks to child-protective services laws, their experience of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and mistrust are largely the same.
A Walk Down Memory Lane; The Routes of Our Pain
In May’s best-selling Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, author Rachel Joyce tells the story of one man’s unlikely decision to walk the length of England from Kingsbridge to Berwick upon Tweed. Harold Fry’s spontaneous pilgrimage begins as a means to save an old friend after receiving a letter that she is in hospice dying of cancer. It is a surprisingly touching journey...
Gods of Gotham: Race Crimes, the Sacred Hatred
In the April’s Ladies' Home Journal Book Club selection, The God’s of Gotham, author Lyndsay Faye pays homage to her passion for murder and mayhem whodunits. Her historical fiction mystery is set in 1843 New York City at the time of the Irish Potato Famine that motivated one hundred and twenty five thousand, largely Irish Catholics, to immigrate to the U.S. Most destitute with scant jobs to be had and little skill, they succumb to lives of crime and poverty.
Beginner's Goodbye: Dealing with Loss,
A Book Club Discussion
In the March LHJl Book Club selection, The Beginner’s Goodbye, seasoned novelist Anne Tyler tells the intimate story of how a quirky publishing house editor, Aaron Woolcott, deals with the loss of his wife, Dorothy, after a tree falls on their home. Quotes taken from the book below outline his often peculiar, yet honest, perspective on his wife, marriage, colleagues, and family as he moves through the classic stages of grief.
True 'Haute Couture': Designing Personal Character; The Fabric of Our Humanity
The often conflicting emotions of ambition and ethics lie at the center of Kate
Alcott’s period novel, and LHJ February book club pick, The Dressmaker. Finding herself with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for
famed designer Lady Duff Gordon, aspiring seamstress Tess Collins learns that blind
ambition sometimes comes at great consequence
Creating Personal Miracles
In the LHJ December book club pick, The Snow Child, The New York Times best-selling author, Eowyn Ivey, spins a modern day
fairytale about a couple trying to build a new life in the harsh wilderness of Alaska.
After fleeing comfortable circumstances in order to escape the grief of losing their
child, Mabel and Jack’s story begins with the darkness of their first year in Alaska...
Connecting to Loneliness
In the LHJ November book club pick Heft, introspective author Liz Moore writes about how feeling alone in the world can
serve as a common denominator that connects people to one another. Arthur Opp, a
morbidly obese recluse narrates the story, reflecting on how his path to isolation
developed over the years due to loss and estrangement from family and friends, a
battle with a negative self-image, and after being falsely accused of having an
affair with the much younger, awkward and shy misfit, Charlene Turner.
Colliding Worlds: Native American and Puritan Cultures in the New World, a Book
In the LHJ October book club pick, Caleb’s Crossing, historical novelist Geraldine Brooks writes about the conflicts between
17th century Martha’s Vineyard inhabitants, newly-settled Puritans and Native Americans.
The contrasting beliefs and customs between the two cultures are told as experienced
by the narrator, Bethia Mayfield, a preacher’s daughter, and Caleb, the son of the
Wampanoag Chief, who crosses over into Bethia's “civilized” world...
Realizing the American Dream, a Book Club Discussion
In the LHJ September book club pick, The Shoe Makers
Wife, a leading book club favorite author, Adrianna Trigiani,
tells the story of the Italian immigrant experience at the turn of the century.
Like many emigrants faced with poverty, this three part story spans Ciro Lazzari
and Enza Ravenelli’s intertwined destiny, as they set out for America in search
of opportunity and the dream of a better life...
Ana’s Legacy: Abuse of Power, a Book
In the LHJ August book club pick, Conquistadora, author Esmeralda Santiago, tells the historical-fiction epic, set in the mid-19th
century, of one woman’s unwavering ambition. Ana Larragoity Cubillas Nieves, inspired
by her brazen explorer ancestors who once sailed with Columbus in discovery of the
New World, hatches a plan to persuade her future husband and twin brother to move
from Spain and purchase a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico...
The Irony of Perspective, a Book Club Discussion
In the LHJ book club July pick, The Astral, author Kate Christensen tells the modern
day realist story of Harry Quirk, a poet who finds his life in shambles; a mid-life
crisis.... As he moves through the stages of crisis, self-defense, and ultimately
reconciliation, Harry finally cultivates a perspective that allows him to stop looking
back so that he can begin to live again...
Expectations and Next to Love
In June’s LHJ Book Club pick, Next to Love, author Ellen Feldman tells the heartbreaking, but hopeful story of three women’s
lives during the paradigm shift of the Baby Boomer generation—1944-1964, spanning
WWII and the war in Vietnam...
The Language of Flowers and Nature vs. Nuture
The Language of Flowers, the LHJ Book Club pick for May, author
Vanessa Diffenbaugh tells the moving story of Victoria Jones, a young woman whose
journey through the foster-care system has taught her to be untrusting of herself,
the world, and the people in it. Isolated and alone, only her treasured Victorian
language of flowers allows her to communicate her true emotions. But until she meets
a young man in a flower market, only she understands the message...
Illusions and Vaclav & Lena
In the LHJ book club pick, Vaclav & Lena, author Haley Tanner tells the story
of a young Russian immigrant boy’s obsession with becoming a great magician. While
Vaclav studies and practices his magic, his best friend, love interest and assistant,
Lena, hides behind the illusions of her horrific home life. It’s a delight to read
how Tanner skillfully marries the literal theme of magic with a deeper metaphor
and exploration of illusions.
How Sisters Shape Our Lives, A Book Club Discussion
The special bond of siblings can often be the longest and most important relationship
in our lives, transcending friends, jobs, parents, and sometimes even marriage.
LHJ Book Club pick, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, tells the
story of sisters Milly and Twiss and the heartbreak, sacrifice, love and secrets
that they share through childhood, adulthood and old age.