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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, we check out which are the most popular book club reads and what makes them so beloved by bookworms.

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Ever notice how certain books seem to dominate book clubs? You spot them popping up in online discussions, hear them mentioned at gatherings, and maybe even find a dog-eared copy at your local library. But what is it about these titles that makes them book club gold?

In this post, we delve into the world of popular book club reads, exploring the common threads that weave these literary darlings together. From captivating characters to thought-provoking themes, we’ll crack the code of these club classics and uncover the reasons why bookworms everywhere can’t resist diving into their pages. So, grab your favorite beverage, settle in for a cozy read, and let’s explore the captivating world of book club favorites!

The research, conducted by QR code generator company QRFY, involved analysing user-created book club lists from Goodreads. More than 300 lists were examined, and each fiction book was counted for frequency across them. In cases where multiple books had the same number of occurrences, those with the highest ratings (out of 5 stars) were prioritised in the rankings. They sent over a top ten ranking for us to explore.

Top Ten Most Popular Book Club Reads

Rank Book Title Occurrences in lists Star rating (out of 5)  
The Book Thief 33 4.39 
The Hunger Games 26 4.34 
The Vanishing Half 26 4.15 
To Kill a Mockingbird 25 4.26 
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 25 4.24 
6= The Fault in Our Stars 25 4.14 
6= The Handmaid’s Tale 25 4.14 
The Help 24 4.47 
The Kite Runner 24 4.34 
Divergent 24 4.14 
10 Where the Crawdads Sing 23 4.39 

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on The Table Read Magazine
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The study revealed that Markus Zusak’s historical fiction The Book Thief claims the number one spot, occurring 33 times across lists. The harrowing book, which has a stellar rating of 4.39 on Goodreads, is recognised globally, having won awards such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and the American Library Association Award for Best Book for Young Adults after its release. 

The timeless classic, published in 2006, not only garnered critical acclaim, but was also turned into an Oscar-nominated movie adaptation in 2013, elevating its status as a must-read for book clubs. So far, the book has been translated into 63 languages and has sold over 17 million copies. 

The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Narrated by Death himself, the story follows Liesel as she’s sent to live with foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Liesel struggles with illiteracy and the horrors she witnesses around her. However, she finds solace in the power of words. With the help of Hans, she learns to read and begins “borrowing” books, a dangerous act in a time when many are deemed unfit for consumption.

Why Is It So Popular?

Unique Narrative Voice: Death’s perspective offers a fresh and thought-provoking angle on the war’s impact. It adds a layer of poignancy and philosophical weight to the story.

Coming-of-Age Story: Liesel’s journey from a scared child to a curious young woman resonated with readers of all ages. Her struggles and triumphs are relatable and emotionally engaging.

Power of Words: The book beautifully explores the power of stories to offer comfort, hope, and a sense of escape in the darkest of times. Liesel’s love of books and the act of stealing them becomes a powerful symbol of defiance against oppression.

Historical Context: Set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany, The Book Thief offers a poignant exploration of war, prejudice, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Where Can I Read It?

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on The Table Read Magazine
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The second most popular book, occurring 26 times across the lists, is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Since 2008, the complete book series has sold over 100 million copies, making it one of the most read worldwide. In the United States alone the first book has sold over 29 million copies. Currently, The Hunger Games has an impressive rating of 4.34 on Goodreads. 

Collins was originally inspired to write the novel after channel surfing when she flipped between a game show and footage from the Iraq War. Little did she know the huge influence the novels would have on readers and the literary world, with the first book sparking a dystopian resurgence in young adult novels. The film adaptations of the four novels also became widely successful having grossed over $3.3 billion (approximately £2.6 billion) worldwide.  

The Hunger Games plunges us into the dystopian nation of Panem, a Capitol that controls twelve poverty-stricken districts. As punishment for a past rebellion, each district must offer a tribute, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death in a televised event called the Hunger Games. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the games, determined to protect her.

Why Is It So Popular?

Dystopian World: The Hunger Games throws readers into a thrilling and terrifying world where violence and oppression are ever-present. It sparks discussions about power, class inequality, and the manipulation of media.

Strong Female Lead: Katniss is a relatable and fierce protagonist. She’s resourceful, brave, and fiercely protective of her loved ones. Readers admire her resilience and determination in the face of impossible odds.

Survival Story: The core of the story is a thrilling fight for survival. We root for Katniss as she uses her hunting skills and strategic thinking to navigate the dangers of the Games.

Romance with a Hint of Rebellion: The story builds a captivating slow-burn romance between Katniss and another tribute, Peeta. Their bond adds an emotional layer to the brutal competition. As the Games progress, Katniss’s defiance inspires rebellion in the districts, making her a symbol of hope.

Where Can I Read It?

The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett on The Table Read Magazine
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Next on the list, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half takes third place. The novel, which won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2020, occurred 26 times across the lists, and has a rating of 4.15 out of 5. So far, the book has sold over one million copies and is being made into a TV adaptation by HBO. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett explores themes of race, identity, and family secrets. It follows the story of identical twin sisters, Desiree and Stella Vignes, who grow up in a light-skinned Black community in Louisiana. Longing for different lives, they choose divergent paths at 16. Desiree stays true to her Black identity while Stella chooses to pass as white, disappearing into a life far away.

The novel then jumps forward in time, following both Desiree and Stella, along with their daughters, who grapple with the legacy of their choices.

Why Is It So Popular?

Exploring Complex Themes: The book tackles the weight of colorism within Black communities, the complexities of racial identity, and the sacrifices made for belonging. It sparks conversations about race, family dynamics, and the choices we make to navigate societal expectations.

Dual Narratives: Following both sisters allows readers to see the world through contrasting perspectives. We witness Desiree’s struggles within her Black community and Stella’s experience navigating a white world with a secret past.

Family Secrets: The mystery surrounding Stella’s disappearance and the impact of her choice on the family adds a layer of suspense and intrigue, keeping readers engaged.

Beautifully Written: Bennett’s prose is captivating and evocative, bringing the characters and their struggles to life with depth and nuance.

Where Can I Read It?

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee on The Table Read Magazine
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The fourth most anticipated book club read is Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird which currently has a star rating of 4.26 and occurred 25 times on the lists.  

Often studied in English classes across the country, the book has thus far sold 40 million copies globally. The book has left a lasting imprint on society’s discussion of racism and even won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. 

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a coming-of-age story set in the racially charged American South during the Great Depression. Scout Finch, a precocious young girl, narrates the story as she observes her widowed lawyer father, Atticus Finch, defend Tom Robinson, a Black man falsely accused of assaulting a white woman.

Why Is It So Popular?

Enduring Themes: The novel tackles timeless themes of racial injustice, prejudice, and the importance of empathy and courage. Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson serves as a powerful lesson in standing up for what’s right, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Scout’s Unique Perspective: The story unfolds through Scout’s innocent and insightful eyes. Her growing understanding of the world’s complexities and her unwavering faith in her father’s morals resonate with readers.

Loss of Innocence: Witnessing the harsh realities of racism forces Scout to confront the darkness of human nature. This journey of losing innocence and gaining maturity is a relatable experience for many readers.

Southern Gothic Charm: The novel is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, a place steeped in Southern Gothic tradition. Lee’s evocative writing brings the town and its inhabitants to life, creating a captivating and atmospheric backdrop for the story.

Where Can I Read It?

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman on The Table Read Magazine
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine comes in fifth place, with 25 appearances in lists and a rating of 4.24 on Goodreads. The 2017 novel, which is being adapted by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine, is Honeyman’s debut novel and focuses on themes of loneliness and isolation, providing great talking points for book clubs. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman introduces us to Eleanor Oliphant, a solitary woman in her late twenties. She thrives on routine, finds social interaction awkward, and maintains a carefully constructed world to avoid emotional vulnerability. Weekends are for frozen pizza, vodka, and phone calls with her distant mother.

However, beneath Eleanor’s meticulously crafted facade lies a yearning for connection. The story follows her unexpected encounters that begin to chip away at the walls she’s built around herself. A chance friendship with a kind-hearted coworker, Raymond, and a musician she develops a crush on, initiate a journey of self-discovery and emotional growth.

Why Is It So Popular?

Relatable Quirks: Eleanor’s social awkwardness and quirky personality resonate with readers who may have ever felt like outsiders themselves. Her blunt honesty and social blunders provide both humor and an endearing vulnerability.

Unexpected Transformation: Witnessing Eleanor slowly emerge from her shell and embrace connection is heartwarming and inspiring. The novel celebrates the power of human connection and the possibility of finding joy in unexpected places.

Humor and Heart: Honeyman masterfully blends humor and heartwarming moments. Eleanor’s deadpan wit and social mishaps provide comedic relief, while her journey of self-discovery tugs at the heartstrings.

Unflinching Look at Loneliness: The novel tackles the issue of loneliness in a sensitive and relatable way. It explores the challenges of social interaction and the courage it takes to open oneself up to connection.

Where Can I Read It?

The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green on The Table Read Magazine
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

In joint sixth place are John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, both occurring 25 times and have ratings of 4.14 on the platform.

Green’s young adult novel, which was published in 2012 and created a frenzy with its popular film adaptation in 2014, focuses on themes of cancer, coming of age, love, and friendship.  

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old battling stage four thyroid cancer. Stuck carrying an oxygen tank everywhere she goes, Hazel feels isolated and disconnected from the world. At her mother’s urging, she reluctantly joins a cancer support group, where she meets Augustus “Gus” Waters, a charming and witty cancer survivor who has lost a leg to osteosarcoma.

An instant connection sparks between Hazel and Gus. They share a love for books, particularly a fictional novel titled “An Imperial Affliction” that eerily mirrors Hazel’s experience. Together, they embark on a whirlwind adventure to Amsterdam to meet the book’s reclusive author, hoping to find answers and closure about their own realities.

Why Is It So Popular?

Honest Portrayal of Illness: The novel offers a refreshingly honest portrayal of living with cancer. It tackles the physical and emotional challenges head-on, without shying away from the difficulties and frustrations of the disease.

Witty and Endearing Characters: Hazel and Gus are complex and memorable characters. Their witty banter, philosophical discussions, and unwavering support for each other resonate with readers.

Love Story with Depth: The love story between Hazel and Gus goes beyond the typical teenage romance. It explores themes of mortality, resilience, and the power of love in the face of adversity.

Dark Humor and Poignant Moments: Green masterfully balances moments of dark humor with genuine tenderness. The novel tackles difficult subjects but manages to be both funny and deeply touching.

Where Can I Read It?

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood on The Table Read Magazine
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

As for Atwood’s classic dystopian novel, the book explores topics of gender oppression and society’s treatment of women and has long since been hailed as a feminist masterpiece. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood plunges readers into the dystopian Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state built on the ruins of the United States. Environmental disasters and plummeting birth rates have led this oppressive regime to subjugate fertile women.

Offred, the narrator, is one such woman – a Handmaid forced into sexual servitude. Her sole purpose is to bear children for the ruling elite, the Commanders, and their infertile wives. Offred’s life is strictly controlled, with limited freedoms and constant surveillance. The story follows her struggle to survive in this oppressive world, clinging to memories of her past life and a forbidden love.

Why Is It So Popular?

Chilling Relevance: The novel’s themes of government control, suppression of women’s rights, and environmental degradation feel eerily relevant in today’s world. It serves as a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked authority.

Compelling Narrative Voice: Offred’s first-person narration allows readers to experience the world through her eyes. Her observations of Gilead’s oppressive society are both chilling and thought-provoking.

Strong Female Protagonist: Despite the bleak circumstances, Offred is a resilient and resourceful character. Her strength and determination in the face of oppression inspire readers.

Literary Exploration of Power: The novel delves into the dynamics of power and control within Gilead’s totalitarian society. It explores the impact of oppression on both the oppressors and the oppressed.

Where Can I Read It?

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett on The Table Read Magazine
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Another book with a successful cinematic adaptation, The Help by Kathryn Stockett comes in seventh place after appearing in 24 different lists. The book, which features on Goodreads’s 100 highest-rated books, has a rating of 4.47 and spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list upon its release.  

The Help by Kathryn Stockett takes us to 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The story unfolds through the alternating perspectives of Aibileen Clark, a Black maid raising white children for most of her life, and Skeeter Phelan, a young white woman who longs to be a writer.

Skeeter, disillusioned with the societal norms of her peers, decides to write a book from the perspective of Black maids working in white households. Aibileen, hesitant at first, eventually decides to share her story, followed by other maids who see an opportunity to expose the realities of their lives.

The Help explores the complex and often fraught relationships between white families and their Black domestic workers. It sheds light on the daily injustices and humiliations faced by the maids, while also showcasing their strength, resilience, and unwavering love for the children they raise.

What Makes It So Popular?

Powerful Social Commentary: The novel offers a powerful social commentary on race relations in the American South during the Civil Rights era. It brings to light the injustices Black people faced and the courage it took to challenge the status quo.

Dual Perspectives: The use of dual perspectives adds depth and complexity to the story. Readers experience the world through both Aibileen’s eyes and Skeeter’s, gaining a broader understanding of the issue.

Unforgettable Characters: Aibileen, Skeeter, and the other maids are well-developed characters who stay with readers long after the story ends. Their courage, humor, and resilience inspire empathy and admiration.

Compelling Narrative: The narrative is engaging and emotionally resonant. Readers are drawn into the lives of the characters and invested in their journeys.

Where Can I Read It?

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini on The Table Read Magazine
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Also featuring 24 times across the lists is Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner which tackles themes of guilt, redemption and morality. Presently, the book has sold over 38 million copies worldwide and has earned a 4.34 rating on Goodreads, placing it in eighth place on the list. 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini takes us on a powerful journey through war-torn Afghanistan and the complexities of friendship, betrayal, and redemption. Set in Kabul during the 1970s, the story centers on Amir, a young boy from a wealthy Pashtun family, and Hassan, the loyal son of their Hazara servant, Ali. The two share a deep bond, especially through their love of kite fighting.

However, their idyllic childhood is shattered by a traumatic incident that Amir witnesses but fails to intervene in. This act of cowardice leaves a lasting scar on both Amir and his relationship with Hassan. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan forces Amir and his father to flee to the United States, leaving behind their past and a heavy burden of guilt.

Years later, as a successful writer in America, Amir receives a life-altering phone call that compels him to return to a war-ravaged Afghanistan. The story then unfolds into a quest for redemption, as Amir seeks to right a past wrong and confront the consequences of his actions.

What Makes It So Popular?

Vivid Historical Context: The novel vividly portrays the turmoil and devastation of war-torn Afghanistan, offering a deeper understanding of the country’s complex history.

Complex Characters: Amir is a flawed but relatable protagonist. His journey of confronting his past mistakes and seeking redemption resonates with readers. Hassan’s loyalty and unwavering friendship stand in stark contrast to Amir’s cowardice, creating a complex dynamic.

Themes of Friendship, Betrayal, and Redemption: The novel explores universal themes of friendship, betrayal, guilt, and the possibility of redemption. It compels readers to confront their own moral compasses and the power of forgiveness.

Compelling Narrative: The story is fast-paced and suspenseful, keeping readers engaged with its twists and turns. The emotional journey resonates deeply, leaving a lasting impact.

Where Can I Read It?


Divergent by Veronica Roth on The Table Read Magazine
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Coming in ninth place is Veronica Roth’s Divergent which appeared 24 times in the lists. Another young adult dystopian, Divergent won two Goodreads awards in 2011, one for Favourite Book and the other for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction. The book, written by Roth when she was just 22, currently has a rating of 4.14 on the platform. 

Divergent by Veronica Roth plunges us into a dystopian Chicago, where society is divided into five factions based on virtues: Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligent), Candor (honest), Amity (peaceful), and Dauntless (brave). At sixteen, Beatrice Prior must choose her faction, a decision that will define the rest of her life. However, Beatrice’s aptitude test reveals a shocking truth – she’s Divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit neatly into any single faction.

What Makes It So Popular?

Dystopian World with a Twist: The faction system in Divergent creates a fascinating and thought-provoking dystopian world. The concept of being categorized based on a single virtue sparks discussions about individuality and conformity.

Strong Female Lead: Beatrice, renamed Tris after joining Dauntless, is a fierce and relatable protagonist. Her bravery, determination, and journey of self-discovery resonate with readers.

Action-Packed Adventure: The Dauntless initiation process is filled with thrilling challenges and tests of courage, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Unraveling Secrets: The discovery of Tris’s Divergence and the hidden motives of the factions add a layer of mystery and intrigue, propelling the story forward.

Where Can I Read It?

Where The Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens on The Table Read Magazine
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Rounding off the list is Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing which has a rating of 4.39 on Goodreads and occurred in 23 lists. The 2018 book, later adapted into a film in 2022 also by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, found immediate popularity, and currently has sold over 12 million copies globally.  

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens weaves a captivating tale set against the backdrop of the North Carolina marshlands. Kya Clark, nicknamed “Marsh Girl” by the townsfolk, is abandoned by her family at a young age. Left to fend for herself in the wild, Kya learns to survive on her own, forging a deep connection with the natural world.

The story unfolds across two timelines. One follows Kya’s remarkable journey of self-reliance as she navigates the challenges of living alone in the marsh. She learns to identify edible plants, fish, and navigate the treacherous environment. The other timeline delves into the investigation surrounding the mysterious death of a young man from the nearby town, Chase Andrews, who was once involved with Kya.

What Makes It So Popular?

Celebration of Nature: The novel offers a lyrical and evocative portrayal of the North Carolina marshlands. Owens’ vivid descriptions transport readers to this unique ecosystem, highlighting its beauty and harsh realities.

Strong Female Protagonist: Kya is a resilient and resourceful protagonist. Her determination to survive and thrive in the marsh, despite facing isolation and prejudice, is inspiring.

Coming-of-Age Story with Mystery: The novel blends a compelling coming-of-age story with a touch of mystery. Witnessing Kya’s journey of self-discovery and navigating the complexities of human connection keeps readers engaged.

Atmospheric and Evocative: Owens’ writing is both beautiful and suspenseful. The atmospheric setting and slow unraveling of the mystery create a captivating reading experience.

Where Can I Read It?

Book Club Reads

Book clubs can be an excellent way of socialising within communities, and the continued success of such clubs is promising. 

It is great to see such classic works of fiction such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Handmaid’s Tale still have a long-lasting legacy where readers today are still eager to discuss and interpret the novels’ meaning and impact.  

Over the last few years, the publishing industry has seen a huge increase in the number of books sold, and it is encouraging to see that younger generations are as excited about classic novels as they are about new releases. Book clubs provide a valuable avenue for socialising, reflecting the power of literature to inspire, unite, and provoke critical thinking and it is brilliant to see many local communities hosting such groups.

-Marc Porcar, CEO of QRFY


1. Using Octoparse, the URLs for every ‘book club’ tagged reading list on Goodreads were scraped. 

2. For each of those list links, data was scraped for each book added to it.  

3. For each unique book, the occurrence of it within the scraped data was counted.  

4. Using queries, the top 100 lists were extracted including for fiction books, non-fiction, romance, fantasy, and crime & thriller novels. These lists are first sorted by the occurrence count, then by the book rating for instances where the books occur the same number of times. 

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