Shanghai Mamas Book Club – 2021 Reading List

The Shanghai Mamas Book Club has been actively meeting since 2010. We meet monthly to discuss the selected book, drink a little, eat a little, and laugh a whole bunch! The group is casual, so it’s not a requirement to read the book to join us, but we do have lively discussions that may originate from the book and lead to others – sometimes even the taboo topics of politics and religion, but inevitably we talk about parenting, tequila, protagonists, partners, work, and life in Shanghai. It’s a great group to make new friends and connect with others around a love of books. All are welcome to join this warm and fun group.
Here is the 2021 book list voted by the group:


​Normal People 

by Sally Rooney

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, January 12, 2021

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.


The Man Who Loved China

by Simon Winchester

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, February 9, 2021

In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham—the brilliant Cambridge scientist, freethinking intellectual, and practicing nudist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, once the world’s most technologically advanced country.



 by Sheila Heti

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, March 9, 2021

Motherhood is a courageous, keenly felt, and starkly original novel that will surely spark lively conversations about womanhood, parenthood, and about how―and for whom―to live.


A Little Life

 by Hanya Yanagihara

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, April 13, 2021

A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.


Smitten by Giraffe: My Life as a Citizen Scientist

by Anne Innis Dagg

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, May 11, 2021

“In this plainspoken memoir, Canadian zoologist chronicles her unusual life as a “citizen scientist” and the deeply ingrained sexism she experienced in academia. Rather than quietly giving up, Dagg chose to advocate for other women in academia and continue her own work as an independent scientist, doing research without academic affiliation or support. Dagg’s passionate engagement with the world shines through in all the experiences she recounts.” Publishers Weekly


Indians on Vacation 

by Thomas King

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, June 8, 2021

Meet Bird and Mimi in this brilliant new novel from one of Canada’s foremost authors. Inspired by a handful of old postcards sent by Uncle Leroy nearly a hundred years earlier, Bird and Mimi attempt to trace Mimi’s long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe.


More Myself: A Journey

 by Alicia Keys

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, July 13, 2021

More Myself is part autobiography, part narrative documentary. Alicia’s journey is revealed not only through her own candid recounting, but also through vivid recollections from those who have walked alongside her. The result is a 360-degree perspective on Alicia’s path, from her girlhood in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem to the process of growth and self-discovery that we all must navigate.


The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, August 10, 2021

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sister, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.


American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, September 14, 2021

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.


Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, October 12, 2021

Mexican Gothic is a 2020 gothic horror novel by Mexican Canadian author Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It centers on a young woman investigating her cousin’s claims that her husband is trying to murder her.The novel landed on multiple bestseller lists and Moreno-Garcia’s writing has received comparisons to Daphne du Maurier and Guillermo del Toro.


The Marrow Thieves

by Cherie Dimaline

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, November 9, 2021

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden—but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.


My Invented Country: A Memoir

by Isabel Allende

Meeting: Tuesday, 7pm, December 14, 2021

In My Invented Country Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country, a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and indomitable spirit, and the politics, religion, myth and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today.

To join the ShMamas book club, scan this QR code and request to be added to the lively Book Club WeChat group.