Great Books for Bookgroups

Bookgroups can be a great way to discover new reads and also a good excuse for meeting up with like-minded book people! We run 4 bookclubs in the Gutter Bookshop and we often get asked for recommendations for good bookclub reads. Here are a few of the books that our bookclubs enjoyed, or that stimulated a lot of discussion even if they didn’t always like them! Try them out on your bookclub and see what they think.
We have ‘Discussion Question’ sheets available for all of the books listed below so if you’d like a bit of help guiding your bookgroup discussion do pop into the shop and ask us for one, or drop us a line.

Top Picks from the Classics Bookgroup

Our Classics bookgroup has been running since January 2010 and meets monthly to read and discuss the ‘classics’ – books that everyone feels they should have read but never quite got around to! (And yes, the question of ‘what is a classic book?’ does get discussed often!)

The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli

Written in 1513 for the Medici, following their return to power in Florence, The Prince is a handbook on ruling and the exercise of power. Much of what Machiavelli wrote has become the common currency of realpolitik, yet still his ideas retain the power to shock and annoy.

The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. The novel was a success de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert Humbert – scholar, aesthete and romantic – has fallen completely and utterly in love with Lolita Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Disturbing, funny, heart-breaking and clever, “Lolita” is an unforgettable masterpiece of obsession, delusion and lust.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much. A coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of Southern writing tradition.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. A tragic novel built out of a series of supremely dramatic scenes that illuminate the eternal conflicts at the heart of human existence.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

‘Jarndyce and Jardyce’ is an infamous lawsuit that has been in process for generations. But while the intricate puzzles of the lawsuit are being debated by lawyers, other more dramatic mysteries are unfolding that involve heartbreak, lost children, blackmail and murder.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman Perkins

Narrated with superb psychological skill and dramatic precision, and based on Charlotte Gilman Perkins’s own experiences, this short story tells of a nameless woman driven mad by enforced confinement after the birth of her child.

Vanity Fair by Thackerey

Becky Sharp is a poor orphan when she first makes friends with the lovely Amelia Sedley at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies.”Vanity Fair” is the story of Becky Sharp’s spectacular rise and fall as she gambles, manipulates and seduces her way through high society and the Napoleonic wars.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

When sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at 19, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious parody of rural melodramas and one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

When young solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania he makes a series of horrific discoveries about his client. One of the great masterpieces of horror, brilliantly evoking a nightmare world of vampires and vampire hunters, and also illuminating the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Lily Bart has no fortune, but possesses everything else she needs to make an excellent marriage: beauty, intelligence and the ability to negotiate the hidden traps and false friends of New York’s high society. Edith Wharton’s masterful novel is a tragedy of money, morality and missed opportunity.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, ‘Rebecca’ is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her own identity.

If you’d like to join one of our bookclubs do sign-up for our monthly newsletter – that way you’ll be first to hear when places become available! It’s also well worth asking at your local library or other nearby community organisations as many are now running local bookclubs.

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Classics Bookgroup – All Books Read to Date:

Jan ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens
Feb ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce
Mar ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
Apr ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins
May ‘The Prince’ by Niccolo Machiavelli
Jun ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov
Jul ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf
Aug ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett
Sep ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
Oct ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nov ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell

Jan ‘Bleak House’ by Charles Dickens
Feb ‘The Member of the Wedding’ by Carson McCullers
Mar ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen
Apr ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
May ‘Vanity Fair’ by William Makepeace Thackerey
Jun ‘At Swim Two Birds’ by Flann O’Brien
Jul ‘A Town Like Alice’ by Nevil Shute
Aug ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons
Sep ‘Howard’s End’ by E M Forster
Oct ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker
Nov ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ by Mark Twain

Jan ‘Lucky Jim’ by Kingsley Amis
Feb ‘The House of Mirth’ by Edith Wharton
Mar ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier
Apr ‘On Human Bondage’ by w. Somerset Maugham
May ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene
Jun ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jul ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy
Aug ‘The Man in the High Castle’ by Philip K. Dick
Sep ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
Oct ‘Count Magnus and Other Stories’ by M R James
Nov ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler…’ by Italo Calvino

Jan ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas
Feb ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte
Mar ‘Strumpet City’ by James Plunkett
Apr ‘Lady Audley’s Secret’ by Elizabeth Braddon
May ‘The Chateau’ by William Maxwell
Jun ‘The Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Jul ‘My Ántonia’ by Willa Cather
Aug ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck
Sep ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
Oct ‘Castle Rackrent’ by Maria Edgeworth
Nov ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D H Lawrence

Jan‘Dr Zhivago’ by Boris Pasternak
Feb ‘The Best of Everything’ by Rona Jaffe
Mar ‘A Handful of Dust’ by Evelyn Waugh
Apr ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque
May ‘Middlemarch’ by George Eliot
Jun ‘The 39 Steps’ by John Buchan
Jul ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac
Aug ‘I Know Why The Caged Birds Sings’ by Maya Angelou
Sep ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustav Flaubert
Oct ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley
Nov ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley