2018 book club shortlist | Part 1


A couple of times a year we put together a shortlist of books and our (Women Aloud St Albans) members vote on the ones they’d like to read for our monthly book club. The list includes books suggested by our members and those that have been bestsellers, up for literary awards, recommended by other book clubs or popular picks on sites like goodreads.

If you’re local to St Albans and want to come along to our monthly book club you can reserve your place on meetup. If you can’t join us in person; we’ll post each time we’re reading a new book….and you’re very welcome to get involved by commenting on the blog post to let us know what you thought of the book.

If you’re not keen to be a book critic but you’re looking for some inspiration on what to read next, please take a look at our shortlist below…

  1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
    Sixteen years have passed since teenaged Grace was locked up for the murder of her employer and his lover. Saved from the gallows where her alleged accomplice was hanged, Grace claims to have no memory of the event. Dr Simon Jordan, an expert in the field of amnesia, has to discover the truth. Was Grace an unwitting accessory, or a cold-blooded killer? 560 pages / Fiction, Crime, Mystery
  2. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
    This book explores love and loss, and human emotions as people struggle to understand themselves and others. There’s the story of 2 sisters; one trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man; a grown daughter longs for mother love; and the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, returns to visit her siblings after 17 years of absence. 272 pages / Fiction
  3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    Eleanor leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes every day, eats the same lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Then one act of kindness shatters the walls she’s built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world, searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life. A story of loneliness, and the power of kindness. 400 pages / Fiction, Humour / Costa Book Awards 2017 winner
  4. Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan
    A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet. It is a classic story of boy meets girl. Except that it’s not. When we find them, they have an hour and a half left. Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive. The clock is ticking. Bittersweet and life-affirming, Hold Back the Stars is a unique love story. 320 pages / Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction
  5. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
    Isma is free. After years spent raising her siblings she is finally following her dreams. But she can’t stop worrying about her sister Aneeka or brother, Parvaiz, who disappeared to prove himself to the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters their lives. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. The two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined – what sacrifices will they make in the name of love? 272 pages / Fiction, Political / Shortlised for the Costa Novel Award 2017
  6. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
    Two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning seven generations and three hundred years of history, each life story and the legacy of slavery is fully revealed. 320 pages / Fiction, Historical, World
  7. In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott
    As Rebecca Stott’s father lay dying he begged her to help him write the memoir. He wanted to tell the story of their family, who, for generations had all been members of a fundamentalist Christian sect who believed the world is ruled by Satan. Rebecca gathers the broken threads of her father’s story, and her own, to tell of her family’s experiences within the sect, and of life after breaking away. 400 pages / Biography / Shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Biography Award
  8. Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal
    In the depths of a winter’s night, the heart of Simon Limbeau is resting, readying itself for the day to come. In a few hours’ time, his alarm will go off and he will drive down to the beach, and go surfing with his friends. A trip he has made a hundred times and yet, today, the heart of Simon Limbeau will encounter a very different course. 5.50 a.m. This is his heart. And here is its story. 240 pages / Fiction, Medical / Winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2017
  9. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    Korea 1911. In a small fishing village a cleft-lipped man marries a 15-year-old girl. The couple have one daughter, Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. Then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows, with no friends, no home, and a language she cannot speak, Sunja’s story is one of family, identity, love, death and survival. 560 pages / Fiction, Historical, World
  10. Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
    Paris for One is a story about Nell, deserted by her boyfriend minutes before setting off on a romantic weekend away. In the ten other stories, we’re introduced to a cast of women in the midst of their everyday lives. Liv and Sophie – though decades apart – both find that marriage is only the beginning of their love stories. A businesswoman’s blossoming confidence emerges from a fateful changing-room mix-up. Other couples dance around the trickiness of long-time marriage. 384 pages / Fiction / Romance / Short stories
  11. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
    1915. Eve is recruited to work as a spy in the Alice Network of secret agents working right under the enemy’s nose. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie is pregnant, unmarried, and being banished to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of. Years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded. Until a young American arrives taking them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads. 528 pages / Fiction, Historical, Crime, War
  12. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
    When a successful New York lawyer disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor daughter Julia have any idea where he might be – until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia travels to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of hardship, resilience, and passion that will change her life. 336 pages / Fiction
  13. The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila
    April 2014, 276 girls disappeared from a school in northern Nigeria, kidnapped by the world’s deadliest terror group. Reporting from inside the community, Helon Habila speaks to the survivors and the bereaved to hear their stories. Moving from the personal to the political, he presents a comprehensive insight into the Boko Haram group, tracing their ascent to the terrible fallout and their ongoing presence in Nigeria. 128 pages / World History, Society, Politics
  14. The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
    Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he’s running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…320 pages / Fiction, Romance, Humour
  15. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen
    Ingrid Barrøy is born on an island where life is hard, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast. At the same time Norway is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that can be cruel. When tragedy strikes, Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind. 272 pages / Fiction / Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017

I hope there might be a book or two in this list which sparks your interest. If you’d like more book suggestions please visit our book club page >

If you’ve read a good book recently, I’d love to know what it is [pop a comment on this post].

Happy reading. x

[Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash]

1 Comment on 2018 book club shortlist | Part 1

  1. In the days of rain
    Hold back the stars
    Eleanor oliphant is completely fine
    Anything is possible

    Interested in the next meet up… Will be my first time ever! Tried to come to the Xmas meet but my App didn’t work properly and I could access it for details.

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