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Many book clubs prefer to wait for a book to come out in paperback before selecting it for a group read. Paperbacks are less expensive than hardcovers and more portable, and by the time they are released, the book is often easier to find in libraries.
Alas, sometimes you need to wait many months or even years for the most popular ones to be reprinted in that format, but the books on this list — all great reads offering interesting themes for group discussion — were released in paperback within the past 12 months or so. A few (including The Lincoln Highway and To Paradise) came out just in the past few weeks.
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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
This huge book club favorite and major bestseller — still! — was released last spring, and just came out in paperback this month. It’s a charming, funny debut about Elizabeth Zott, a chemist in 1960s California who becomes the host of a cooking show and ends up teaching viewers about far more than how to bake a cake. Among other issues, it explores sexism in the 1950s and ’60s. Apple TV+ is adapting it for a series starring and produced by Brie Larson.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Another 2021 hit, this novel is based on the real-life story of Belle da Costa Greene, a light-skinned Black woman (her father was the first Black man to graduate from Harvard) who was hired by J.P. Morgan in 1905 to serve as his personal librarian, which she did for some 40 years. Born Belle Marion Greener, she hid her Black identity while becoming a powerful figure in the New York art and book world. Al Roker’s production company reportedly has optioned the book for a potential series.