October is National Reading Group Month! Learn more about it here.
I’ve updated a list of discussible books. These are books that have been discussed at the Woodridge Public Library in the past several years, and which have all led to lively discussions. Some of the titles were not universally liked, but that can make for memorable discussions. Enjoy! Brenda
Benjamin, Melanie. The Aviator’s Wife
Chevalier, Tracy. The Last Runaway
Coomer, Joe. Pocketful of Names
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers
Doig, Ivan. The Whistling Season
Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light
Dunant, Sarah. Sacred Hearts
Erdrich, Louise. The Round House
Follett, Ken. Pillars of the Earth
Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Gloss, Molly. The Hearts of Horses
Hill, Lawrence. Someone Knows My Name
James, P.D. Death Comes to Pemberley
Joyce, Rachel. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
King, Laurie. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
Kingsolver, Barbara. Prodigal Summer
Kline, Christina Baker. Orphan Train
Larsson, Stieg. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife
Moon, Elizabeth. The Speed of Dark
O’Nan, Stewart. Last Night at the Lobster
Parkin, Gaile. Baking Cakes in Kigali
See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Semple, Maria. Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Shaffer, Mary Ann and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Simonson, Helen. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help
Trigiani, Adriana. The Shoemaker’s Wife
Vreeland, Susan. Clara and Mr. Tiffany; Luncheon of the Boating Party
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses; Silver Star
Algeo, Matthew. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure
Beavan, Colin. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Caputo, Philip. The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean
Child, Julia with Alex Prudhomme. My Life in France
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business
Goodman, Matthew. Eighty days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Krist, Gary. City of Scoundrels: The Twelve Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago
Kurson, Robert. Shadow Divers : The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II
Millard, Candice. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President
Salisbury, Laney & Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
The Tuesday Morning Book Group is discussing David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell at 10:00 a.m. on October 21. In David and Goliath, Gladwell presents a wide-ranging variety of anecdotes to support his belief that underdogs have certain advantages that may help them to succeed and become overachievers.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group is discussing The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett at 7:00 p.m. on October 28. The Bookman’s Tale is a first novel set in several time periods. The main part of the book is set in North Carolina and England in the 1980s and 1990s. Rare book dealer Peter Byerly is stunned when he finds a Victorian watercolor portrait that looks just like his wife Amanda. The portrait is linked to an Elizabethan novel that was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale. A copy of the novel with margin notes and lists of the book’s owners may prove that Shakespeare really was the author of his play; or the novel could be a forgery.
The Crime Readers are meeting on Thursday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss River of Darkness, by Rennie Airth. The Crime Readers, co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Library, meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien. Optional dinner is at 6:00 p.m. River of Darkness is the first mystery featuring Inspector John Madden, who is sent by Scotland Yard to investigate when several people are murdered in a village in Surrey. Haunted by experiences in World War I and the loss of his family, Madden teams up with a beautiful doctor to capture the killer.
Copies of all of the books are available at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk.
On September 16 at 10:00 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will be discussing The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood, a historical novel set in two different time periods. Vivien lives in California in 1919, and survived the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. We learn about her life and her connection to Claire, living in Virginia in the early 1960s. Claire, a former flight attendant, is married with a toddler, and volunteers for JFK’s presidential campaign. Here is my review.
On September 28 at 7:00 p.m., the Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig, a coming of age novel set in Gros Ventre, Montana in 1960. Rusty is growing in the back room of his father Tom’s bar, the Medicine Lodge. Tom won’t talk about his past or Rusty’s mother, so Rusty and his friend Zoe sit in the bar’s back room listening to the customers and trying to make sense of what they hear. The past, including the construction of the Fort Peck dam, comes to life when oral historian Delano comes to town, along with Francine, who might be Tom’s daughter. Here’s my earlier review.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza on Thursday, September 18 to discuss Tug of War by Barbara Cleverly. A well-earned vacation takes a sharp detour when Scotland Yard inspector Joe Sandilands is called to a chateau in Champagne, France, where a shell-shocked patient has amnesia. Trying to determine his identity proves a difficult, delicate task: several families are claiming the unknown soldier as their own. The discussion begins at 7:00 p.m., with optional dinner at 6:00 p.m. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
The Tuesday Morning Book Group will meet on June 17 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore.
Jane was Benjamin Franklin’s younger sister, born in Boston in 1712. Benjamin taught her to read and write, and Jenny and Benny were very close, exchanging letters for over 60 years. They outlived their other siblings, and many of Jane’s children. During Jane’s long and eventful life she raised children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and lived through the American Revolution. She was a woman with wide interests, who loved news and gossip, religion and politics, and anything her brother wrote. Books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing the contemporary novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple on July 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Bernadette was an award-winning architect in Los Angeles, but no longer works. She lives in Seattle now with her husband Elgie, who works for Microsoft on an artificial intelligence project, and 15-year-old daughter, Bee, who attends a private school. Bernadette hates Seattle and its weather, and has become agoraphobic, secretly using a personal assistant service in India to run her life. Bee and Elgie are looking forward to a family vacation to Antarctica, somewhat problematic for agoraphobic Bernadette. Right before the trip Bernadette disappears, leaving Bee to trace her steps through emails and bills. Funny, quirky, and heartwarming. Copies of the book will be available soon.
On May 20 at 10:00 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will be discussing the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a contemporary novel. At 18, Victoria is aging out of foster care in California. Alternate chapters describe her placement as an angry, unloved 9-year-old girl with kind Elizabeth, who teaches her about the meaning of flowers. In the present, Victoria uses this knowledge in her part-time job with Renata, a florist. Re-connecting with Elizabeth’s nephew Grant, Victoria must deal with a secret from her childhood.
On May 27 at 7:00 p.m., the Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, a non-fiction book. This is the true story of 10 of the thousands of young women who lived and worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II. Here is my earlier review.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15 to discuss Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver. Called the reigning “master of ticking-bomb suspense” (“People”), Deaver has written a gripping international thriller–with a range of real political figures and Olympic athletes–that introduces his most psychologically complex hero to date. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
On April 15 at 10:00 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will be discussing Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman, a remarkable true story. Here’s what I wrote about it last summer, when this title was being considered for The Big Read: On November 14,1889, Nellie Bly, an investigative reporter for the New York World, left New York City on a steamship headed east. Her goal: to travel around the world in 75 days, outdoing Jules Verne’s fictional Phileas Fogg. Traveling by steamship and train, she briefly visited several points in Europe, even meeting Jules Verne in France, then headed through the Suez Canal for points east, observing and commenting on the British Empire in the Victorian era. Traveling with only one small bag, she took the world by storm, visiting Ceylon, Hong Kong, and Japan. Half-way around the world, she was informed that journalist Elizabeth Bisland was traveling in the other direction, in a last-minute attempt by her publisher to beat Nellie Bly. Elizabeth sets out for the American west, on the new transatlantic railroad, a Southern literary critic surprised to be blazing a trail for American women. The story of their eventful journeys and the aftermath make for a great armchair travel experience for the reader.
On April 22 at 7:00 p.m., The Tuesday evening Book Group is reading Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, a novel set in 1970, featuring two sisters, Liz and Jean, known as Bean.
Growing up in California with an artistic, loving, yet sometimes neglectful mother, the girls, now 12 and 15, rely on each other. When their mother is absent from time to time, they eat a lot of chicken pot pies. When two weeks have gone by and the neighbors are getting suspicious, Liz decides they should take the bus to visit their uncle Tinsley in Virginia. Bean and Liz learn about their family’s history, and meet extended family. The Vietnam War and school integration are becoming issues in conservative mill town Byler, Virginia, and the girls will have to decide where their loyalties lie.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15 to discuss Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver. The Crime Readers book group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of the books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk.
In March, the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. in Group Study Room 2. The Art Forger is contemporary fiction, set in Boston. Painter Claire Roth was working on her master’s degree when her boyfriend Isaac got painter’s block. With a deadline looming, Claire painted a picture in Isaac’s style to inspire him. Three years later, Claire is asked to copy a painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1990. Claire suspects the Degas painting may be a forgery itself, and looks for a connection between Isabella and Degas. This novel is both a thriller and a romance, but art is the main focus.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will discuss The Big Read selection: The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean by Philip Caputo on March 25 at 7:00 p.m. Here is a link to my review. There are also a wide variety of programs connected to the book at the 10 Big Read libraries. For more information and to register for programs, visit www.thebigread.org.
The Crime Readers will discuss Boy in The Water by Stephen Dobyns on Thursday, March 20 at 7pm at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien. The Crime Readers book group is co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
Copies of these books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk.