The 2002 -- 2003 'Best Books for Reading Groups' Book Sense 76

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We're still checking ISBNs of the latest paperback editions, but we wanted you to see this soonest. The flier will be ready this fall, and we'll publicize this major initiative then.

Note: This is also a great resource if your community is thinking of adopting a book for all to read. For a list of what books cities, towns, and states around the country have chosen recently, go to
(Let us know of any new ones!)

Thank you to the hundreds of stores who sent in their top 15s; these 76 books were the top vote-getters out of the 1,000-plus titles nominated!

Carl & Mark
[email protected]
[email protected]

The Top Ten:

  1. The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver, Barbara
  2. The Red Tent, Diamant, Anita
  3. Girl With a Pearl Earring, Chevalier, Tracy
  4. House of Sand and Fog, Dubus III, Andre
  5. Memoirs of a Geisha, Golden, Arthur
  6. The Sparrow, Russell, Mary Doria
  7. The Hours, Cunningham, Michael
  8. Angle of Repose, Stegner, Wallace
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee, Harper
  10. Plainsong, Haruf, Kent

And the other best reading group books, alpha by title. Final flier to have groupings by theme:

  • Ahab's Wife, Naslund, Sena Jeter
  • All Over But the Shoutin', Bragg, Rick
  • All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy, Cormac
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon, Michael
  • Angela's Ashes, McCourt, Frank
  • The Bean Trees, Kingsolver, Barbara
  • Bee Season, Goldberg, Myla
  • Bel Canto, Patchett, Ann
  • Beloved, Morrison, Toni
  • Birdsong, Faulks, Sebastian
  • The Blind Assassin, Atwood, Margaret
  • Chocolat, Harris, Joanne
  • Cold Mountain, Frazier, Charles
  • The Color of Water, McBride, James
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole, John Kennedy
  • Corelli's Mandolin, DeBernieres, Louis
  • Crossing to Safety, Stegner, Wallace
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Wells, Rebecca
  • Empire Falls, Russo, Richard
  • The English Patient, Ondaatje, Michael
  • A Fine Balance, Mistry, Rohinton
  • Fugitive Pieces, Michaels, Anne
  • Galileo's Daughter, Sobel, Dava
  • Geek Love, Dunn, Katherine
  • Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland, Susan
  • The God of Small Things, Roy, Arundhati
  • Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck, John
  • The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald, F. Scott
  • The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood, Margaret
  • The House of the Spirits, Allende, Isabel
  • The Human Stain, Roth, Philip
  • Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri, Jhumpa
  • Into the Forest, Hegland, Jean
  • A Lesson Before Dying, Gaines, Ernest J.
  • The Liars Club, Karr, Mary
  • Lying Awake, Salzman, Mark
  • Midwives, Bohjalian, Chris
  • Motherless Brooklyn , Lethem, Jonathan
  • Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf, Virginia
  • Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden Life of Islamic Women, Brooks, Geraldine
  • No Ordinary Time, Goodwin, Doris Kearns
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
  • One Thousand White Women, Fergus, Jim
  • Peace Like a River, Enger, Leif
  • The Persian Pickle Club, Dallas, Sandra
  • Personal History, Graham, Katharine
  • Pope Joan, Cross, Donna Woolfolk
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany, Irving, John
  • Prodigal Summer, Kingsolver, Barbara
  • The Professor and the Madman, Winchester, Simon
  • The Reader, Schlink, Bernhard
  • Refuge, Williams, Terry Tempest
  • The Road From Coorain, Conway, Jill Ker
  • The Samurai's Garden, Tsukiyama, Gail
  • Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand, Laura
  • The Shipping News, Proulx, Annie
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, Guterson, David
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Fadiman, Anne
  • The Stone Diaries, Shields, Carol
  • Stones from the River, Hegi, Ursula
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston, Zora Neale
  • The Things They Carried, O'Brien, Tim
  • A Thousand Acres, Smiley, Jane
  • The Weight of Water, Shreve, Anita
  • White Teeth, Smith, Zadie
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Chang, Jung