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Book clubs can be hit or miss. Assemble the perfect group and choose a page-turner and you’re set. Gather a weird, disinterested crew and pick a total dud and you’ll regret ever having expressed interest. To avoid the latter fate, consider one of these ten books that are ripe for debate and discussion of feelings.

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nest

“The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Chances are at least a few people in your book club have siblings. As such, they’ll have a hard time not relating to the dysfunctional Plumb family in Sweeney’s excellent debut novel. While you and your pals might not have experience dealing with fighting over a $2 million trust, sibling rivalries and squabbling are fairly universal (and are sure to drum up some personal stories). 

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furiouslyhappy

“Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson

We don’t think of a book about mental illness as inherently funny, but Lawson is able to make the hilarious most of a not-so-great situation. Diagnosed at a young age with a litany of mental issues including depression and phobias, Lawson resolves to combat her challenges by being “furiously happy” and, in turn, makes it totally OK not to be OK.

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beautiful

“We Could Be Beautiful” by Swan Huntley

A tightly written psychological thriller about Manhattan’s elite, Huntley’s wonderful novel asks if we can ever really trust another person. Her protagonist, Catherine, has lived a life of (unfulfilling) luxury when she meets William, an equally privileged man who seems to have it all. Turns out, he doesn’t, and it’s fun and addictive to watch as the facade slowly disintegrates.

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bossypants

“Bossypants” by Tina Fey

Yes, we’ve plugged this book approximately 17 times, but that’s only because it deserves all the praise and recommending. Fey’s collection of essays is obviously hilarious, but it also delves into some of the more annoyingly relatable parts of womanhood, like how everyone feels entitled to weigh in on your fertility. Read it in sections and commiserate over how stupid the idea of “having it all” is.

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booktheif

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

A total book lover’s pick, Zusak’s 2005 novel was on the New York Times best-seller list for 375 weeks for good reason. It’s about a young girl in Nazi Germany who steals books before they’re burned, and it speaks to the immense power of words--even in the bleakest situations. Be forewarned: You will cry and you will be moved.

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donnatart

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

Not quite as long as The Goldfinch, Tartt’s debut novel about a group of friends at an elite Vermont college is enthralling. Opening with a murder, The Secret History reads like a slow burn, with tension building gradually and an ending that will blow your mind. Reading it as a group, you can’t help but talk about what you would do in an even vaguely similar situation.

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biglittlelies

“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty delves into serious topics (domestic abuse, female friendships, murder) with her trademark wit and dark humor in this hit 2014 book. Anyone with a kid or two will find it extremely relatable and, if you read it now, you can all watch the forthcoming HBO series based on the book (starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman) when it premieres sometime next year.

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brillfriend

“My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante

If you’re not on the Ferrante bandwagon yet, now’s the time. A gorgeously detailed portrait of a friendship between two young girls, this novel takes an oft-discussed topic and injects it with such immense minutiae that you get totally sucked into their world--and can’t wait to get your hands on the next three books in the Neapolitan Novels series.

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houseofsprits

“The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende

Not necessarily light reading, but Allende’s breathtaking 1982 novel is more than worth a read. It follows the Chilean Trueba family through four generations and incorporates elements of Gabriel García Márquez-esque magical realism. It can get kind of confusing, so it’s great to have a group of friends to help you figure out what the hell is going on.

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grace

“Grace” by Natashia Deón

Naomi is just 15 years old when she flees slavery in Alabama in search of a better life up North. Very little goes according to plan, though, and the ensuing story is both powerful and wrenching. That said, this book is well worth any emotional turmoil it puts you through--especially at this particular moment in our country’s history. 

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