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February 22, 2016

Book Group Challenge: Reading Two Different Books by the Same Author

Posted by emily

A few weeks ago, we received a query from Noreen in Sarasota, FL: "Our book club will be exploring an author's study for February and March. We want to pick one author and two different works to compare them. Do you have any suggestions?  I'm sure other clubs must have done this before."

We love this kind of book club challenge! Comparing two different works by the same author is a great way to stimulate conversation, and can add some new and interesting perspective to the books themselves. There are so many fabulous authors with multiple titles out there; reading more than one is a great opportunity to compare and contrast and explore beyond what’s just on the page.

Noreen’s group’s challenge didn’t seem to have a specific set of parameters --- outside of two books by the same author --- so we were easily able to come up with loads of great pairs of books by great authors. Off the top of our heads, we suggested the following, keeping in mind that we wanted to hit various genres (all qualifying as fiction, though) so there would be something for everyone:   

Our suggestions are pretty contemporary; most of them were published within the last 20 years or so by an author who is still very much alive. An interesting twist on the challenge would be to compare two classics by the same author: Jane Austen has a brilliant anthology to choose from, Maya Angelou has many excellent works, or you could go the Hemingway route if you’re feeling a bit more macho. If you do decide to go in for the classics, we suggest doing some research on the author and the time period he or she was writing in. There’s a ton of information out there, and it would add another layer to an already fascinating discussion!

Another cool experiment could be to read books by the same author in different genres. Recently featured Rupert Thomson is a known genre-jumper; you can compare his latest, KATHERINE CARLYLE (Fiction), to his 2010 memoir, THIS PARTY’S GOT TO STOP. Or take Philippa Gregory, queen of historical fiction, and read one or two of her non-historical titles, like her thriller, ZELDA’S CUT.

Challenges like these are a great way to get out of a reading group rut, or to keep things exciting. There are so many possibilities for out-of-the-box discussions; we would love to hear how your group shakes things up! Let us know how your group experiments with new or multiple titles, or how you push your genre comfort. Next month, we'll bring you a list of nonfiction pairings; give us  a shout if you have any suggestions!