Dear Friends: My book club recommends these top ten selections. In the past twenty-five years, we have read hundreds of books, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that we started rating them on a scale of one to ten. The following books were ranked highly by everyone.
What we look for in a book is interest and enjoyment, plus the material to spark a good discussion. Learning something new about the world is also a bonus.
How do we choose our books? We consult lists of bestsellers and awards, read reviews, and take recommendations from friends. According to a recent survey, almost half of all books read in Canada are chosen because of a suggestion from a friend. (And this is why I beg you to recommend my novels to your friends if you haven’t already done so).
Here, in no particular order, are a list of ten books that carry a hearty endorsement from my beloved book club members.
1. My Book Club Recommends: Rebecca
An oldie but a goodie, this classic 1938 novel has been made into a movie again, now available on Netflix. A young woman marries a wealthy widower before discovering that both he and his creepy housekeeper are haunted by the memory of his late first wife. As always, I urge you to read the book first!
2. My Book Club Recommends: A Spool of Blue Thread
From a much-loved Pulitzer Prize-winning author, this novel spans several generations of the same family, their quirky and eccentric members seen through the eyes of their mother and grandmother.
3. My Book Club Recommends: Ordinary Grace
The summer of 1961 should have been another ordinary summer for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, but then tragedy strikes. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, this is a poignant coming-of-age story with an element of mystery.
4. My Book Club Recommends: The Nightingale
This Second World War historical novel tells the story of how two French sisters, one of whom is a rebellious teenager, take very different paths to survive life in their German-occupied homeland.
5. My Book Club Recommends: Stones From the River
Another novel set during the Second World War, this one describes how an anti-Nazi German father and daughter hide Jews in their basement. What makes the story even more extraordinary is that the daughter is a Little Person.
6. My Book Club Recommends: Remarkable Creatures
In 1810, a young woman named Mary Anning has an aptitude for collecting ancient marine fossils on the beaches of southern England. In the face of male criticism, she finds a kindred spirit in another woman, a prickly middle-aged spinster who shares her passion for fossils.
7. My Book Club Recommends: The Light Between Oceans
Australia, 1926: A childless lighthouse keeper and his wife stationed on a tiny isolated island receive an unexpected gift when a boat washes ashore, bearing a healthy baby girl. How they handle the situation causes all kinds of complications.
8. My Book Club Recommends: Moon of the Crusted Snow
We found lots to talk about after reading this futuristic novel: how indigenous bands live today, how social customs break down in a time of crisis, and whether any of us could survive life in a world without technology.
9. My Book Club Recommends: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
A retired gentleman suddenly decides to walk six hundred miles from one English town to another. Each character that he meets along the way unlocks past memories and leads him to reconcile his losses and regrets.
10. My Book Club Recommends: They Left Us Everything
One of my personal favourites, this non-fiction memoir describes how the author spent an entire year cleaning out her family home in Ontario after her mother dies. It’s an experience that almost everyone has faced, or will face.
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Rest in Peace, Merle Taylor
One of the wonderful veterans I had the privilege of interviewing for my website was Merle Taylor, who passed away on April 22, 2021 at the age of ninety-seven years. In this photo, Merle is showing me how to do Morse code in the family room of her farmhouse in Lochaber, Nova Scotia. You may read Merle’s truly inspiring story by clicking here: Merle Taylor: Maven of Morse Code.
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In My Mailbox
Not everyone uses email, folks! About once a month I receive cards and lovely handwritten letters like this one from a reader in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I won’t share her name, but here’s the first of a two-page letter. I have a special binder where I keep printouts of all my emails, PLUS beautiful cards and letters like this one. That’s why I have my physical mailing address on my website, and you can find it here: Elinor’s Address.
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Friends, would you like to recommend a book to our club? And please feel free to forward or share this list with your own reading buddies.
Speaking of book clubs, I have two more online appearances coming up: one in Calgary, Alberta; and one in Brandon, Manitoba. I’m always available if your book club or community group would like to read either (or both) of my novels, Wildwood and Bird’s Eye View.
I will leave you with this quote from author George R. R. Martin (whose novels later became the series Game of Thrones): “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”