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Recommendations for myself and dds ages 19 &17

(19 Posts)
Wishingstarr Fri 05-Jun-20 16:31:12

My dds have decided to go social media free for a while and read some books for pleasure (something they haven't done for years) they want me to join them in a book club. Sounds fun but I have no idea what we might all enjoy reading so please offer suggestions!

Me = British, born and raised in London. dds = American but lived in Germany for 6 years, so bilingual and open minded with a diverse group of friends.

We are looking for fiction that is modern, has female protagonists and is not dystopian. No problem with plot twists etc. but with all that is already going on outside our front door there's no need! Not too long as they haven't read for pleasure for so long. Maybe a series of books so if we like the first it can lead to others? Something fun, interesting, enticing so they want to keep reading.

I love Kate Atkinson, otherwise I read a lot of non-fiction social history books such as "White Trash: The 400 year untold history of class in America by Nancy Isenberg. I also enjoy classics but generally the girls are force fed them at school so not keen.

17 yr old was obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson books when she was younger. She says she still picks then up occasionally now!

19 yr old loved The Great Gatsby and was an obsessive Harry Potter reader.

We are very open, my 17 yr old is an Anglophile so she would be keen on British authors. I am very out of touch with the book world and don't know of any contemporary authors except for the Irish author of Normal People (for obvious reasons, big TV hit over here).

Thank you very much for your thoughts and very interested in what you might suggest!

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Wishingstarr Fri 05-Jun-20 16:32:12

Sorry forgot the obvious, we are on the West Coast of the USA in the suburbs of a major city.

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BookWitch Fri 05-Jun-20 22:45:12

Americanah might suit (me and my DD22 loved it) Not a series though

Wishingstarr Fri 05-Jun-20 23:01:28

Could you tell me more about it BookWitch?

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DancelikeEmmaGoldman Sat 06-Jun-20 02:13:40

I’ve recommended Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black to lots of people, who loved it. It’s not long and follows the lives of three women working in a department store in Sydney mid last century.

I think what I enjoyed about it the most was that the women cared for each other and managed their lives well. I was tired of stories about women being hurt by abusive men or derailed by unwanted pregnancies and enjoyed the characters independence and sense of self worth.

TwoKidsStillStanding Sat 06-Jun-20 19:18:49

When you say modern, do you mean a reasonably contemporary setting, or do you mean “not a classic”?

If the latter, I’d recommend Restless by William Boyd, which has a main female protagonist and isn’t too long.

I like Curtis Sittenfeld, especially Sisterland and American Wife. Both have female narrators.

You might also like The Innocents by Francesca Segal, which is set in the Jewish community in North London. Although the main protagonist is male, most of the key characters are female and one of the main themes is belonging versus being an outsider.

Last recommendation: if you don’t mind historical settings, try Helen Dunmore or Tracy Chevalier.

BookWitch Sun 07-Jun-20 12:19:48

@Wishingstarr
It's about a Nigerian woman who goes to study in the US. Her teenage boyfriend is turned down to go to the US and ends up going illegally to the UK. It follows both their stories and their subsequent return to Nigeria when they are older. It deals with a lot of issues around race, relationships and national identities.
It's few years since I read it, but it was very good.

Blackcountryexile Sun 07-Jun-20 13:39:31

A lot of adult content but my daughters, who are a few years older than yours, and I, enjoyed Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. It won the Booker Prize for fiction in 2019. Follows the lives of Black British women of different ages and generations in Britain.

FatRascalsAndJam Mon 08-Jun-20 17:24:56

At a similar age DD read The Power by Naomi Alderman and really loved it - www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/02/the-power-naomi-alderman-review.

She’s also not a big reader but has recently read and enjoyed Queenie, Girl, Woman, Other and Normal People.

FatRascalsAndJam Mon 08-Jun-20 17:26:52

Sorry meant to add, DD is now in her early 20s so some of the suggestions may not be suitable, but The Power is aimed more towards teenagers.

Holothane Mon 08-Jun-20 17:58:40

At that age I was reading the Thorn Birds,
Lace by Shirley Conrad
Ian Fleming
James Herbert

Heathercob Wed 10-Jun-20 17:11:55

"The Seven Sisters" , by Lucinda Riley - only problem is that the final book out of seven won't be released until next year!

Wearywithteens Wed 10-Jun-20 17:14:07

Bit of a cliche but our book club loved ‘where the Crawdads sing’.

Wishingstarr Wed 10-Jun-20 18:29:52

Thank you so much everybody! I really appreciate such a range of suggestions. TwoKidsStillStanding in terms of "modern" I guess I mean both girls were born in the 21st century and so the 90s is "way back when" to them! I think that a lot of the background history of popular culture and historical references are really lost on them. For example, although my dd age 17 is very interested in everything British she has never lived in Britain, just visited. So I have found I can make assumptions about her background knowledge and historical events I might refer to when it fact she knows nothing about that period.

For example both girls were very surprised at how recent historically WW II was when they studied it at school. I had told them both my parents were evacuated as children during the war as both their respective cities were being bombed, but the penny hadn't dropped.

My eldest said she was shocked at how recently gay people had the right to marry. I explained that President Obama had not supported gay marriage when he ran for his first term, and this issue was only of public prominence in the past decade.

So "modern" to me is ancient history to them. I believe you were referring to the development of the Modern period, but I would really need to explain to then how far back Modern as a concept in history, philosophy, literature and art actually goes.

Their school in the USA is very good at the History of Ideas and giving them a sense of how and when historic concepts and events developed but that still cannot necessarily go into much detail past the 1970s and of course their focus is the USA rather than Europe. They also spent 6 years in Germany so with the switch between countries there can be some gaps.

So overall my point is that I think I probably am the one that needs to update my reading habits as a novel from the '90s would definitely be "very recent" to me!

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Wishingstarr Wed 10-Jun-20 18:31:46

Past the 1970s: I meant the 1970s -2020. Their history classes start with the ancient world.

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Quackersandcheese3 Wed 10-Jun-20 18:32:06

The seven sisters series by Lucinda Riley . Escapism , historical , mysterious .

Livingthecovidaloca Wed 10-Jun-20 22:07:44

@BookWitch Americanah was going to be my first suggestion too!
If you/they might fancy non-fiction Becoming, Michelle Obama’s autobiography is excellent.

Wishingstarr Wed 10-Jun-20 22:55:06

I looked up the reviews for Seven Sisters and a reviewer said the first book is 500 pages. This idea to read together is totally from the girls and neither of them have read for pleasure for a while, I definitely think 500 pages could put them off! It's perhaps something we could build up to though as it looks intriguing.

I am looking for a satisfying first read to give them the joy of reading again that's not too long or daunting.

Unfortunately my enthusiasm for Americanah has put my middle daughter off a bit, initially she thought I was taking about a non fiction book and it would be deadly dry. One of her best friends family is Nigerian so I thought she would be intrigued but I think she thinks it is the kind of book I would absolutely love and so she's not sure how fun it would be. You know how parents can kill even the best of ideas stone dead.

I think she would definItely enjoy iT, but maybe it's not the best one to start with.

They both like real-crime and detectives.

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Livingthecovidaloca Fri 12-Jun-20 09:26:28

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

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