Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Science fiction books for your book club

I’m not a member of a book club. I’m sure if I joined one, any book that was picked would hit my “Assigned book! Assigned books are always bad!” knee-jerk reaction and there I’d be, reading the book in a resentful frame of mind. Even when I want to read a book, I want to read it when I want to read it, not on a schedule. I’m just not the book-club type, I guess.

This is a list of seventeen titles from Book Bub, incidentally. The choices are meant to appeal to book clubs that do not ordinarily read SFF, so that ought to influence the choices a whole lot. I wonder if it does? Let’s take a look.

Okay, good choice: Murderbot: All Systems Red.

Why it’s a good choice: It’s short, and it’s enormously popular for a reason. Anybody not dead-set against cyborgs ought to enjoy it, and if they don’t, well, it is short. Plenty to discuss, surely.

Station Eleven is on this list. That’s a good choice for a different reason — it’s essentially a literary novel. If the club members are more inclined toward literary fiction, then it’s a choice that may appeal to them. Plus the end of the world plot ought to work for many people whether they are ordinarily into literary fiction or not. It’s beautifully written and has enough sympathetic characters that I enjoyed it, though unlike Murderbot, I’ve only read it once.

Three-Body Problem is on here. That one is a good example of why I wouldn’t join a book club. I couldn’t get through this one; I just found it boring. I didn’t much care for any of the characters and the writing wasn’t compelling enough to make me want to read it despite that.

Oh, here’s Binti. I know a lot of people really loved it. Not me. I didn’t care for it one bit. I disliked the protagonist and loathed the plot. It’s short, though, so it’s got that going for it.

The Calculating Stars. Okay, now, that’s a much better choice imo. People who like historicals, or like history, or like real-world plots that involve space rather than out-there plots that involve space, might all enjoy this one. It’s so approachable for a non-SF fan! Well-written, mostly rather snappy in pace, a relatively quick read, great for discussion. This one I wholeheartedly agree is an excellent choice for a book club that is not really into SFF in general.

Out of their seventeen picks, those are the ones I’ve read. Click through if you’re interested and see what you think of the full list.

Here’s a list of books that might make me join a book club:

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie

York, by Laura Ruby

Lovely War, by Julie Berry

Idle Days on the Yann by Lord Dunsany

A Woman of the Iron People by Elanore Arnason

The Just City by Jo Walton

That’s a pretty eclectic list, I guess. But those are some of the first ones that spring to mind where I both have the book on my Kindle, and would genuinely like to read it. So much so that I would endure having them assigned, with a due date.

These aren’t the ones I’d pick to introduce non-SFF readers to SFF. That’s a completely different post!

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2 Comments Science fiction books for your book club

  1. Mary Beth

    I would join your book club for that list! Though I once tried to start a SFF book club on Tumblr, and found I couldn’t keep up with the demands of moderating PLUS reading PLUS writing long thoughtful posts. Maybe a Twitter club.

    I left Three-Body Problem unfinished too — I really wanted to enjoy it, but its focus on anything-but-characters made it hard for me to care.

  2. Allan Shampine

    I never liked the idea of book clubs. I would generally expect their recommendations to not be closely aligned to my personal preferences, and there is peer pressure to finish books you don’t like. The closest I get is my annual attempt to read the nominees for major awards. I do that because I hope the alignment of recommendations and my preferences is better, but there my house rule is to give it a fair shot but if I hate it I’ll stop. Like you, I hated Binti (although it was short enough I finished it). I didn’t finish N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series. I totally get why it won awards, but it is so not for me.

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