Mme. Recamier's salon, after the painting by Adrien Moreau. Source: Project Gutenberg

Mme. Recamier’s salon, after the painting by Adrien Moreau. Source: Project Gutenberg

Now that the book salon* is closing in on its fortieth meeting, I’m trying to come up with some new topics for the coming year. As we have exhausted many of the more obvious themes, it is hard to find books that may fit any given topic, which is where you come in, dear readers.

I try to have at least two dozen book suggestions for each topic before I propose it. So, if you have any books you would recommend (classic or contemporary fiction, but they should be on the “literary” side), please add your suggestions in the comments below. I am especially interested in adding more authors of color.

Also, if you think a book I’ve listed here doesn’t really fit a particular theme, speak up! In many cases, I’m relying on the most basic of information, and, as they say, you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Some of the themes I’d like to develop, but for which I have almost no particular books in mind, are:

1) heists (think The Getaway by Jim Thompson)
2) immigrants and emigrants (think Honour by Elif Shafak)
3) lighthouses (think The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Steadman)
4) national parks (think San Miguel by T. C. Boyle, really anything that mostly takes place in one of the fifty-nine U.S. national parks, from the Everglades to the Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon)

The following lists are more developed, but I’d still like to add a dozen books or so to them:

A Christmas Story
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons)
Christmas at High Rising (Angela Thirkell)
A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
“A Christmas Memory” (Truman Capote)
Christmas Pudding (Nancy Mitford)
The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)
Hogfather (Terry Pratchett)
A Holiday for Murder (Agatha Christie)
Professor Andersens Natt (Dag Solstad)
The Shepherd (Frederick Forsyth)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale (Graham Joyce)
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror (Christopher Moore)

The Classics Club (good books about great books)
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Dai Sijie) [multiple novels]
The Dante Club (Matthew Pearl) [Inferno]
The Club Dumas (Arturo Pérez-Reverte) [The Three Musketeers]
Dublinesque (Enrique Vila-Matas) [Ulysses/The Odyssey]
Flaubert’s Parrot (Julian Barnes) [Madame Bovary]
The Hours (Michael Cunningham) [Mrs. Dalloway]
The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Joy Fowler) [multiple novels]
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) [Pilgrim’s Progress]
Mister Pip (Lloyd Jones) [Great Expectations]
S. (John Updike) [The Scarlet Letter]
Treasure Island!!! (Sara Levine) [Treasure Island]
When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead) [A Wrinkle in Time]

Fine Wine or Fine Lines? (books about aging)
The Confessions of Max Tivoli (Andrew Sean Greer)
The Hearing Trumpet (Leonora Carrington)
The Hundred Year Old Man Who… (Jonas Jonasson)
Logan’s Run (Nolan & Johnston)
Memento Mori (Muriel Spark)
Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Rebecca Miller)
Quartet in Autumn (Barbara Pym)
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (Tennessee Williams)
The Sea, the Sea (Iris Murdoch)
The Spectator Bird (Wallace Stegner)
The Summer before the Dark (Doris Lessing)

Sex, Spies, and Videotape (sexy books about spies or books about sexy spies, with or without videotape)
Black Roses (Jane Thynne)
Charlotte Gray (Sebastian Faulks)
Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)
Enigma (Robert Harris)
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Simon Mawer)
Journey into Fear (Eric Ambler)
N or M? (Agatha Christie)
Restless (William Boyd)
Six Days of the Condor (James Grady)
Sweet Tooth (Ian McEwan)
The 39 Steps (John Buchan)
Waiting for Sunrise (William Boyd)

Help me, O readers! Please add suggestions for any of these topics below. Thanks!

*For those not familiar with this unusual book club concept, instead of reading and dissecting one book, as in a traditional book club, everyone selects whatever book they want that fits the theme of that session. We vote on topics, each of which is proposed with a list of 20-25 suggested books to give people an idea of what they might read for any given theme. No one forces anyone to read a particular book and, even if you don’t finish your book, you can participate in the discussion of the general theme and no one has to worry about spoiling a book for someone else. Finally, you hear about books that you might never have chosen for yourself, and often learning more about them in a specific context piques your curiosity.