Beyond the Bestsellers: Discovering Hidden Gems for Your Book Club
It can be hard, finding books for your group that everyone is going to get something out of. Tastes vary, and what one person loves, another hates, and there's only so much pleasure you can get from discussing books that simply don't resonat with you. To cope with this, it's helpful to find books that have broad appeal, and to that end many book clubs tend to gravitate towards popular bestsellers, which can certainly make for engaging discussions. However, a book that everyone thinks is OK is likely to be a book that no one thinks is great, and, while we don't want to knock popular writers, sometimes just going with the books that are at the top of the charts can leave you with a selection that's a little.... bland.
So it's important to branch out. There are many hidden gems out there that are worth exploring for your book club. With a little care and attention you can dig up books that are going to capture and engage your group and provoke discussions that take you to unexpected places. Here are some tips for discovering these lesser-known but equally valuable books:
Seek Out Award Winners
Many award-winning books fly under the radar of mainstream readers. Look to literary awards such as the Goldsmiths Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Rathbones Folio Prize for inspiration: these are all awarded to fiction that might not be on the shelves at the supermarket or Smiths, but nevertheless are considered important and interesting works.
Explore Indie Bookstores
Everyone has dreamed at one time or another of setting up a bookshop. (At least, I dream about it all the time, and I'm hoping I'm not alone.) Well, the people who work in and run independent bookstores are the ones actually living that dream, and guess what: they're not doing it for the money. The sorts of people who staff indie bookshops are the sorts of people who care deeply about books, know loads about books and have strong opinions too. Theys often have curated selections of lesser-known books that may be perfect for your book club. Talk to the staff or browse their shelves for recommendations.
Check Out Small Presses
Small presses may not have the same marketing budgets as larger publishing houses, but they often produce high-quality books that are overlooked by mainstream readers. Explore the catalogs of small presses for hidden gems. And if you find a book that appeals, seek out other books by that same publisher or, even better, by the same editor within that publisher. You may be delighted by what you discover.
By exploring these avenues, you may discover hidden gems that make for wonderful book club discussions. Not only will your club members be exposed to new perspectives and writing styles, but you may also help promote lesser-known authors and books in the literary world. So don't be afraid to look beyond the bestsellers and explore the lesser-known books that are waiting to be discovered.