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Book Discussion Groups: An Introductory Guide: Suggested Reads

A guide to joining, starting, and running a book group.
Introduction to Suggested Reads


Need some help choosing books that will lead to a good discussion? Never fear, these booklists and resources can help!


Librarian Created Booklists & Award Lists - See what some of our librarian led book groups are reading and what's winning awards across all genres!

Online Resources - Get access to online sources to help you find your next great book group read.

Fiction to Make You Think - A list of general fiction great for book discussions.

Nonfiction to Make You Think - A list of general nonfiction great for book discussions.

Top Banned Books - The American Library Association’s list of top banned books from 2010-2019.

Local Interest Titles - Includes fiction and nonfiction about Boston and New England in general.

Diverse Voices - Fiction and nonfiction written by and about diverse identities.

Bestsellers - These titles have been very popular at the library and were bestsellers.

Biographies & Memoirs - Includes a wide variety of topics including politics, immigration, science, trauma, neglect, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Librarian Created Booklists & Award Lists


Librarian led book group reads

Check out these lists to see what some of the Boston Public Library book groups are reading for more ideas. 


Librarian created booklists

These lists have been put together by the Reader Services Librarians at the Central Library. If you'd like to see more lists by a particular librarian, just click on their name in the upper right corner of the list.

Simultaneous Use eBooks for Book Clubs - If you don't have time to browse through all of Hoopla's offerings, here is a long list of suggestions from Reader Services for your digital book clubs!

Assimilation: 12 Memoirs About Fitting in When You're an Immigrant - Every day people come from all over the world to make a new, better, life for themselves within America's borders. Often they are escaping war and certain death in their home countries, having to leave friends and family members behind. Making the transition into a new way of life, having to learn a new language and new customs, is never easy. 

Black History Is Now: 16 Contemporary African American Authors to Listen to Today - Check out one of these recent audiobooks from Black authors across a variety of genres ranging from contemporary fiction to poetry to memoir.

Female Authors of Color: 14 Books by Women from Around The World From Bangladesh to Cuba; From Africa to Korea, these women authors hail from around the world and often bring their culture to their work. Check one out today to read about real life experiences or escape into a work of fiction.

Honoring a Sci-Fi Legend: Octavia Butler Novels & Readalikes - On February 24, 2006, legendary science fiction author Octavia Butler died at the age of 58 years old. With her death, the literary world lost one of its great storytellers. Honor her memory by reading one of these Octavia Butler novels and a corresponding readalike.

Playing with Words: Experimental Fiction - Think you've read every kind of book out there? Think again! Redefine your definition of literature with these 16 works of experimental fiction, which emphasize innovation by playing with narrative structure, words, and page layout to create truly unique works of art.

Short Literary Gems: Great Books Under 200 Pages - Are you looking for a great new read that's not too time consuming? Here is a selection of short fiction and nonfiction titles to add to your TBR list.

To Be A Hero What does it mean to be a hero? Explore this list to find out. Choose to be a hero!

15 Must-Read Classic & Contemporary Essay CollectionsNew to essays? Choose from this selection of classic and contemporary collections and decide if this is a genre for you.

15 Twisty Thrillers You'll Want to RereadHave you ever finished a fantastic thriller only to think to yourself, “I need to read that again”? Maybe the plot was particularly complex, or the author played with time, or the ending turned the book on its head. Whatever the reason, some books deserve to be revisited. Download any one of these twisty thrillers and you'll see what I mean...

BPL Staff Picks - Every month staff from the Boston Public Library recommend their favorite books, from adult fiction and nonfiction to graphic novels, children’s picture books, and everything in between.

Librarian Created Booklists on All Topics and Genres - These lists cover everything from fiction and nonfiction to everything in between and were put together by librarians all over the Boston Public Library system. 



Award lists

To see the winners and to learn more about each award click the links below that will take you to the website for that award. 

Audie Awards - The Audio Publishers Association chooses the best titles in audio publishing.

Bram Stoker Awards - A prestigious award in horror fiction.

Edgar Awards - Esteemed awards in the mystery genre, including novels, debut novels, television episodes, crime writing for children, teens, and adults.

Hugo Awards - A distinguished award in science fiction. 

Lambda Literary Awards - A wide variety of literature, including plays, poetry, biographies, general fiction, romance, and mysteries for adults teens and children, are judged principally on literary merit and content relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives.

The Booker Prizes - The Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland, while the International Booker Prize is awarded annually for a book translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.

National Book Award - Honors the best Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature published each year.

National Book Critics Circle Award - Awards the best Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry, and Criticism published in English every year.

Nebula Awards - The best novel, novella, novelette, and short story in science fiction and fantasy.

Nobel Prize in Literature - Looks for "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

PEN/Faulkner Awards - A national prize that honors the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year. 

Pulitzer Prize - There are 22 categories across journalism, books, drama and music.

Vivian Contest - The Vivian recognizes excellence in romance writing and showcases author talent and creativity. We celebrate the power of the romance genre with its central message of hope--because happily ever afters are for everyone.

Women's Prize for Fiction - Inspired by the Booker Prize of 1991 when no women authors were shortlisted, this prize works hard to recognize the work of women in fiction.


Browse award winners in our catalog - On the BPL's catalog is a section where all of the major awards in the majority of genres are listed, so you can stay up to date on the winners of the past years. Once you click on the link, scroll down to view the awards lists.

Online Resources


Online resources from the BPL

NoveList Plus - A large database of reading recommendations that includes a Book Club Resources page (found in the Quick Links drop down menu) with book discussion guides and articles by librarians and book club experts on the challenges of running a discussion group. Access NoveList at home by logging in with your library card number and PIN, or you can come into the library and access it without needing to log in.

Reader's Corner - Librarians from the Reader Services department of the Boston Public Library have put together these extensive genre guides for all your reading needs! These guides are available without signing in.


Online booklist resources

Book Riot's Must-Read Archives - These booklists range in variety from 50 Must-Read Books Recommended by Roxanne Gay to 50 Must-Read Poetry Books and so much more. Plus, you can explore other booklists by clicking on the genre links at the top of the page. 

Goodreads - A free online social reading site, to find any information about books you might need to know as well as community reviews. This link takes you to a list that users on Goodreads have voted to be the best books for book clubs.

Hoopla Book Club Hub - Each quarter, Hoopla releases a Spotlight title as well as eight additional titles for added diversity. They also link to a discussion guide and an exclusive author interview for each Spotlight title. Hoopla eBooks are free with your library card. Note that the BPL does not offer eAudibooks through Hoopla at this time.

New York Times Best Sellers - Authoritatively ranked lists of books sold in the United States, sorted by format and genre. Find the NYT Best Sellers in our catalog.

Project Gutenberg - There are many classic books that are now out of copyright and are available at websites like Project Gutenberg! As there is an overwhelming number of books to choose from you may want to go through their list of top 100 downloaded books, where you’ll find many recognizable classics. Project Gutenberg books can be downloaded in a variety of formats and should be compatible with eReader apps such as Books (for iOS devices) and Kindle (platform agnostic).

Reading Group Choices - Recommends discussible books for reading groups. They partner with publishers, independent bookstores, public libraries, and authors to develop resources to enhance the shared reading group experience. 

Fiction to Make You Think



Nonfiction to Make You Think



Top Banned Books


The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiled this list of the most banned and challenged books from 2010-2019. Below are some of those titles that would work well for a book discussion group.

Local Interest Titles



Diverse Voices






Biographies & Memoirs