10 must reads for Reading Groups – National Reading Group Day

Tuesday 14 September is National Reading Group Day, a yearly celebration of reading groups and the communities they create. Reading groups are great if you want to grow your reading habits and make new friends. It’s easy to get started if your reading group has a Hampshire Libraries membership, you’ll have access to up to 1,300 reading sets including large print and audio formats for members with different needs. Sets can be booked up to 12 months in advance so that everyone will have their book at the same time and sets can be borrowed for 8 weeks to ensure you have plenty of time to read. Find out more about borrowing reading sets, joining a reading group, or starting your own.

Check out this video which shows you how to reserve reading sets through our website:

Here are 10 of our favourite reads that are all available to borrow as reading group sets:

  1. The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything…

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, Bess is astonished to be told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. 

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

2. My Sister the Serial Killer by Braithwaite Oyinkan

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

On 21 June, 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.

While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.

4. The Binding by Bridget Collins

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book, and you will never remember your secret, however terrible. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded. Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

5. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

6. Becoming by Michelle Obama

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it-in her own words and on her own terms.

7. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning epic remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of dust bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel West in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.

8. A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd

Morgan Leafy is hardly the most respectable of Her Majesty’s representatives in the West African state of Kinjanja. For starters, he probably shouldn’t have involved himself in wholesale bribery. Nor was it a good career move to go chasing after his boss’s daughter; especially when his doctor banned him from horizontal pursuits.

But life is about to change for young Morgan Leafy. Every betrayal and humiliation he has suffered at the hands of petty persecutors is suddenly put into perspective. For Morgan has a dead body on his hands – and somehow, some way he’s going to have to get rid of it.

9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorise it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, they flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Written by Isaac Fravashi

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