The Best Book Club Books for Winter 2020

Crowd-pleasing reads across every genre.

winter book club feature

If you’re on the hunt for the next juicy read for your book club this winter, then look no further! This list covers all the bases with the best picks for every kind of taste. Whether your group only reads award winning works, loves books they can compare to their movie adaptations, speeds through heart-pounding thrillers or flips through swoon-worthy romances—we’ve got you covered. 

Go ahead—crank up the heat, set out the hot cocoa, and settle in with these ten books you won’t be able to wait to discuss at your next book club meeting.

Related: The Best Book Club Books for Summer 2020

The Book for Pulitzer Prize-Winner Readers

The Keepers of the House

The Keepers of the House

By Shirley Ann Grau

The Howlands have spent generations accumulating wealth in the South. After fighting for Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, supporting secession, and contributing to the efforts to rebuild the Southern states post-Civil War, they were a very respected family. Tucked away in their plantation home in Alabama, it seemed to their surrounding community that the Howlands were a paragon of Southern values.

In the 1960s, Abigail Howland—apathetic to her family’s grand history—inherits the sprawling Alabama home. However, when it’s revealed that her grandfather was involved in a decades long affair with an African American woman, the community that held the Howlands in such high esteem turns against them. Abigail must stand up for her family and their mixed-race heritage as author Shirley Ann Grau weaves a story of familial love, rigid tradition, and grave prejudice.

Related: The Best Book Club Books for Winter 2021  

The Book for Oprah Magazine Devotees

The Need Helen Phillips

The Need

By Helen Phillips

This title is straight off of Oprah Magazine’s list of the best books of 2019. A mind-bending speculative thriller, The Need explores motherhood and its many dualities. 

When archaeologist Molly is home alone with her two young children, she hears the sound of footsteps coming from the other room. It could be nothing—the lack of sleep playing tricks on her mind—or it could be something far worse. When she finds an intruder in her home with an intimate knowledge of those closest to her, Molly’s grip on sense starts to crumble. Confronted with all of her worst nightmares, Molly may have to fight to keep what’s hers.

Related: The Complete Oprah’s Book Club List

The Book for Lovers of Modern Classics

The Ice Storm

The Ice Storm

By Rick Moody

It’s 1973, and a ferocious blizzard approaches the affluent suburban town of New Canaan, Connecticut. The quiet and content portrait of the American Dream is not all that it seems to be, as behind the scenes Benjamin Hood grows spitefully resentful over his perceived incompetence, and his wife Elena grows suspicious that Benjamin is sleeping with their neighbor. Janey Williams—the neighbor who is certainly sleeping with Benjamin—and her husband accompany the Hoods to a “key party” as the first flakes of snow flutter from the sky. As the Hoods and Williams trade sexual partners with the other well-respected members of their community, their teenage children are off dipping their toes into their own pool of sex and drugs.

A moving and humorous look at the secrets behind the immaculate lives of suburbanites, The Ice Storm rose to be a national bestseller. For more post-read fun, check out the movie adaptation directed by Ang Lee, starring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, and Elijah Wood.

Related: 10 Books About Dysfunctional Families

The Book for Film Fanatics

The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild

By Jack London

For those readers who love to read the source material of upcoming new movie releases, check out Jack London’s The Call of the Wild before the latest film adaptation starring Harrison Ford hits theaters in February. Published in 1903, this book follows a dog named Buck, a St. Bernard/Sheep Dog mix that is stolen from his California home to be sold as a sled dog in the Yukon. 

As time passes, Buck grows more feral from the cruel weather conditions and the wild nature of the dogs that surround him. But when he meets a prospector named John Thornton, he finds himself divided by the deep domestic bond he shares with this human and the endless compelling draw of nature.

Related: The 12 Best Movies Based On Books

The Book for Short Attention Spans



By Elizabeth Crane

If you’ve got someone in your book club that just has too much going on to follow a full-length novel, check out this collection of twenty-two easily digestible short stories by Elizabeth Crane. The stories in Turf are quirky, quick-witted, and at points unsettling, but always entertaining. Including tales that range from a group of geniuses capable of discovering everything the world has to offer with the exception of love, to a Brooklyn couple saddled with a strange baby at the end of the world, Crane’s riveting collection portrays the nuances of the human heart.

Related: Short Story Collections That Belong on Every Novel-Reader’s Shelf

The Book for Queer Book Clubs

In the Shadow of the Bridge

In the Shadow of the Bridge

By Joseph Caldwell

Author and playwright Joseph Caldwell’s memoir is a heart-breaking and soul-soaring account of his life in Manhattan from the 1950s to the 1980s. Caldwell touches on his role as a pioneer of New York’s gay bohemian community, as well as his start at a classical music radio station moving into his time as a writer. 

However, the heart of this biography centers around his love for the photographer William Gale Gedney. The wild times of the 60s and 70s were filled with his unrestrained yearning for Gedney, but a cruel twist of fate brought the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, which moved Caldwell into the role of a tender caretaker for his beloved man who was ravaged by the merciless disease.

Related: 10 Must-Read LGBT Books

The Book for Romance Book Clubs

Things You Save in a Fire Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire

By Katherine Center

Cassie Hanwell is a feisty and independent firefighter in Texas who can maneuver any high-pressure situation with grace. However, when her mom asks her to pick up and relocate to Boston, Cassie finds herself in a rundown, old-school firehouse that is less than enthusiastic to have a woman on the team. The only one who seems to be on her side is the new swoon-worthy rookie, Owen Callaghan. But Cassie doesn’t date, and even if she did, she knows better than to ever lay a hand on another firefighter.

The Book for Science Fiction Book Clubs

Semiosis Sue Burke


By Sue Burke

The human race is in trouble when a traveling colony makes a crash landing on a foreign planet. Their survival is precarious with their unpredictable surroundings—the same trees offer magnificent fruit one day, and then change to blossom with poison the next. But as the colonists discover the ruins of an alien civilization, they don’t know that they’re being watched by another life form. Their first contact may be the deciding factor for the continuation of mankind.

If you've already finished Semiosis, check out the second book in the duology, Interference

Related: The 30 Best Science Fiction Books in the Universe

The Book for Fantasy Book Clubs

Gods of Jade and Shadow Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Casiopea Tun is living in the Jazz Age, but experiences none of its glamour as she spends her days cleaning her rich grandfather’s house. Wasting her life away in a small Mexican town, Casiopea imagines a world in which she can live by her own choices—a world which seems out of reach. But her dreams of something more may be realized as she uncovers a strange wooden box in her grandfather’s room. As she opens the box, she gets more than she bargained for as the Mayan god of death springs free.

The irresistible god offers her an alluring opportunity: aid him in recovering his throne from his deceitful brother. She has the chance to see adventure across the world, but is it worth it if failure means death? Casiopea may be willing to travel to the Mayan underworld, but that doesn’t mean she wants to stay there.

The Book for Horror Book Clubs

Imaginary Friend Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend

By Stephen Chbosky

This surprising and acclaimed new horror novel is from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, bringing with it the empathy Chbosky is so well-known for. In the middle of the night, Kate Reese escapes the clutches of an abusive relationship with her son Christopher. The two of them settle down in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, hoping to build a quieter and better life. And that’s when Christopher disappears in the woods for six days, returning with no memories, but a strange new voice in his head—a voice which tells him he must build a treehouse in the woods before Christmas, or else.

Related: The 10 Best Horror Books—We Dare you to Finish Them!

Featured photo: Ben White/Unsplash