You have to read these

When we asked book clubs in the Charlotte area to send us their reading lists for the year ahead, more than 90 clubs responded.

We heard from the Manly Man Book Club in south Charlotte, Women With Options in Lenoir and the Bookies in Wadesboro.

The Happy Bookers sent in its list -- so did the Bossy Bookclub Babes, the Day Time Page Turners and the Chick-Lits.

We found a range of themes: One group will read contemporary fiction this year (its pick for this month is "Never Let Me Go," by Kazuo Ishiguro); another will focus on Southern voices ("Where Trouble Sleeps," by Clyde Edgerton, is its November book).

And we heard from a range of ages. The Kids Club is open to second- and third-graders; the Third Tuesday Readers consists of retired, or near-retired, members.

Book clubs in the Carolinas appear to be thriving.

"I think people find out that their co-worker is in a book club or they hear about their neighbor being in one -- and they want to join," says Sally Brewster, co-owner of Park Road Books in Charlotte.

Her tips: Have one person in charge. Choose a few books at a time so members can read ahead. Relax and have a good time.

"Don't be afraid if you don't like the book," Brewster says. "Sometimes the best discussions are about books that people didn't like."

Based on our survey, what book appeared on the most lists? We combed through some 400 titles to find that this year's top selection, being read by 32 clubs, is "A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini.


"A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini.

Hosseini's first novel, "The Kite Runner," was also a book club favorite. "A Thousand Splendid Suns," his second novel, came out this spring.

"Water for Elephants," by Sara Gruen.

"The Glass Castle," by Jeannette Walls.

"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," by Lisa See.

"Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert, and "Three Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards.

"Magic Time," by Doug Marlette, and "Suite Française," by Irène Némirovsky.

"My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Picoult.

"The Tortilla Curtain," by T.C. Boyle and "One Thousand White Women," by Jim Fergus.

"The Road," by Cormac McCarthy, "Slaughterhouse-Five," by Kurt Vonnegut, and "On Agate Hill," by Lee Smith.