Is your book club looking for a book to read? Check out a Book Club Kit!
Book Club Kits
A book club kit contains a handy tote bag with 9 – 12 copies of one book and a discussion guide to assist book club leaders.
The kit is checked out to one group member who is responsible for all the materials. The group may keep the kit for up to 6 weeks. Book club kits may not be renewed.
The book club kits are housed at the Washington Park Library but you can pick up the kit at any St. Joseph Public Library branch. Just let a librarian know which kit you would like to check out and we will let you know if and when it is available. Kits must be returned during open hours since they cannot be returned in the bookdrop.
The Friends of the St. Joseph Public Library funded the purchase of the books.
After This by Alice McDermott, 277 pages. 10 copies. A portrait of an American family during the middle decades of the twentieth century evokes the social, spiritual, and political turmoil of the era as seen through the experiences of a middle-class couple and their children.
After You by JoJo Moyes, 352 pages. 10 copies. How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living? Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, 304 pages. 10 copies. The world is ending not with a bang so much as a long, drawn-out whimper. And it turns out the whimper can be a lot harder to cope with. The looming apocalypse parallels the struggles of 10-year-old Julia, as her suburban life crumbles.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, 531 pages. 10 copies. A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney, 437 pages. 10 copies. As girls growing up in Australia, Anna, Bett, and Carrie Quinlan were childhood singing stars known as The Alphabet Sisters. As adults, the women haven’t spoken in years – ever since Bett’s fiance deserted her to marry the younger Carrie. Now their grandmother Lola is turning eighty and she is determined to reunite the girls for a blowout bash. And no one ever says no to Lola.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, 370 pages. 10 copies. (Non-fiction) Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, 321 pages. 10 copies. Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher’s soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe’s maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.
The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, 304 pages. 10 copies. In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naïve teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. Elsie’s courtship by Josef Hub, a rising star in the Army of the Third Reich, has insulated her and her family from the terror and desperation overtaking her country. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door puts all she loves in danger.
The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig, 400 pages. 10 copies. Tom Harry has bar called The Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge in the town of Gros Ventre, in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty, whose mother deserted them both years ago. The pair make an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine. The Bartender’s Tale wonderfully captures how the world becomes bigger and the past becomes more complex in the last moments of childhood.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman, 432 pages. 10 copies. A novel about a hockey team in a small town. It’s part coming-of-age novel, part study of moral failure, and finally a chronicle of groupthink in which an unlikely hero steps forward to save more than one person from self-destruction. A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, 368 pages. 10 copies. A sumptuous epic about the real people who make art, spinning illusion for fun, profit and meaning. There are screen actors, a novelist and Pasquale, an innkeeper, who keeps his patrons fed and watered on homemade wine and dreams. And just as Jess Walter introduces us to the characters, he follow them for fifty years.
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, 336 pages. 10 copies. Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at Manhattan’s worst hospital, with a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he’d prefer to keep hidden. Whether it’s a blocked circumflex artery or a plan to land a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Now, with the mob, the government, and death itself descending on the hospital, Peter has to buy time and do whatever it takes to keep his patients, himself, and his last shot at redemption alive.
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, 360 pages. 10 copies. Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every times she falls asleep. Her husband Ben, is a stranger who must explain their life on a daily basis. She starts a journal with the encouragement of her doctor. She opens it one day and reads “Don’t Trust Ben.” Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion.
Bent Road by Lori Roy, 368 pages. 10 copies. For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding his sister Eve’s death. But when the 1967 Detroit riots frighten him even more than his Kansas past, he convinces Celia to pack up their family and return to the road he grew up on, Bent Road, and the same small town where Eve mysteriously died. And then a local girl disappears, catapulting the family headlong into a dead man’s curve.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 492 pages. 10 copies. Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. These three women are at different crossroads, but they all wind up in the same shocking place.
Blue Heaven by C.J. Box, 344 pages. 10 copies. A twelve-year-old girl and her younger brother go on the run in the woods of North Idaho, pursued by four men they have just watched commit murder. Retired cops from Los Angeles, the killers easily persuade the inexperienced sheriff to let them lead the search for the missing children. William and Annie’s unexpected savior comes in the form of an old-school rancher teetering on the brink of foreclosure
Blue Nude by Elizabeth Rosner, 200 pages. 10 copies. An artist who teaches others but who has lost his own inspiration, German-born painter Danzig finds a muse in the person of a new model named Merav, the Israeli-born granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, but before they can create a new future for themselves, both artist and model must come to terms with the past.
Bound by Antonya Nelson, 231 pages. 10 copies. Misty, a single mother, drives off a cliff. Her daughter, Cattie, is named after Misty’s childhood best friend. Catherine is childless and living with her much older husband, Oliver. It’s a shock to learn Misty is dead and she had a daughter, and that Catherine is the guardian.
Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, 336 pages. 10 copies. When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he’d planned.
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, 352 pages. 10 copies. Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home.
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty, 352 pages. 10 copies. In Laura Moriarty’s extraordinary first novel, a young girl tries to make sense of an unruly world spinning around her. Growing up with a single mother who is chronically out of work and dating a married man, 10-year old Evelyn Bucknow learns early how to fend for herself.
Chinese Nail Murders by Robert Van Gulik 256 pages, 10 copies. In the 4th book of Robert Van Gulik’s ancient Chinese mystery series based on historical court records, detective Judge Dee is appointed to the magistrate of a frontier district in the barren north of the ancient Chinese Empire. He is faced with three strange and disturbing crimes, and even more curious, the crimes seem to be linked together by clues from a popular game of the period, the Seven Board.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 80 pages. 9 copies. Abridged version. Relates Ebenezer Scrooge’s eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warmhearted, and caring human being. A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.
The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman, 394 pages. 10 copies. While executive Emily questions her choices about her career and a long-distance relationship with a successful man, her environ-mental activist sister, Jessamine, struggles with her own doubts about her beliefs and love affair.
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laura Viera Rigler, 304 pages. 10 copies. After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up to find herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Not only is Courtney stuck inside another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer.
The Confidant by Helene Gremillion, 256 pages. 10 copies. An award winning international sensation, part historical drama and part suspense novel. It’s Paris, 1975, and Camille sifts through letter of condolence after her mother’s death when a strange, handwritten missive stops her short. When new letters keep arriving each week, Camille begins to realize that her own life may be the next chapter in the sender’s tragic story.
Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, 331 pages. 10 copies. Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. But on the one-year anniversary of his wife, Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is an odyssey that takes Arthur on a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.
Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, 304 pages. 10 copies. P.D. James, popular mystery writer, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem. Inspired by a lifelong passion for Austen, James recreates that world, electrifying it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly crafted crime story.
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell, 311 pages. 10 copies. A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents. It is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.
Deceptive Homecoming by Anna Loan-Wilsey, 289 pages. 10 copies. When her good friend Virginia Hayward’s father passes away, Hattie Davish rushes to her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Her visit takes her from the town cemetery, to the home of an infamous outlaw, to the dungeon-like tunnels beneath the State Lunatic Asylum.
Defending Jacob by William Landay, 432 pages. 10 copies. Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for more than twenty years. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson, 447 pages. 10 copies. (Non-fiction) Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.
The Dinner by Herman Koch, 320 pages. 10 copies. A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Down River by John Hart, 386 pages. 10 copies. Five years after fleeing to New York in the wake of a murder acquittal, Adam Chase returns to North Carolina, only to find himself trapped in the middle of a new case of murder as the people around him begin to die and he becomes the prime suspect in the crimes.
Euphoria by Lily King, 261 pages. 10 copies. Three young, gifted anthropologists of the 1930’s are caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 297 pages. 10 copies. Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing.
Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice, 316 pages. (Non-fiction) 10 copies. Having served under two presidents, Rice is well-known for her icy demeanor and steely disposition. This memoir presents a young woman deeply attached to her devoted parents. Her family roots are deep in the south, and Condoleezza spent her early years in segregated Birmingham, Alabama. Rice presents a frank, poignant and loving portrait of a family.
Franklin and Eleanor: an Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley, 345 pages. (Non-fiction) 10 copies. In this groundbreaking account of the marriage, acclaimed biographer Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention that kept FDR and Eleanor together.
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, 321 pages. 10 copies. In the Midwest just after the September 11 attacks, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin comes of age amid such challenges as racism, the War on Terror, and cruelty in the name of love, as she leaves her family’s farm to attend college and takes a part-time job as a nanny.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, 480 pages. 10 copies. Set in the Metropol, the Moscow hotel where the famous hobnob, Bolsheviks plot revolutions and intellectuals discuss the merits of contemporary Russian writers. It’s also where wealthy Count Alexander Rostov lives under house arrest for a poem deemed incendiary by the Bolsheviks. Towles magnificently conjures the grandeur of the Russian hotel and the vibrancy of the characters that call it home.
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, 357 pages. 10 copies. Wang Lung, a Chinese peasant, rises from poverty to become a rich landowner with the aid of his patient wife in the 1920s.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, 590 pages. 12 copies. A once respected financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, hits hard times. He is offered the chance to resurrect his name, but he must research a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly 40 years. He accepts the offer and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius. Little is as it seems in this popular thriller that is the first book in a trilogy.
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, 503 pages. 12 copies. Book 2 of a trilogy. Magazine publisher Mikael Blomkvist decides to run a story that will expose a sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and physical evidence implicates genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist is convinced of Salander’s innocence and launches an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 180 pages. 10 copies. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan in Long Island NY in the roaring 1920s.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, 290 pages. 10 copies. In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.
Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, 288 pages. 10 copies. How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally–a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence. The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. Told from the alternating perspectives of both Alexandra and her younger daughter Iris, this is an unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett, 451 pages. 10 copies. Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and often unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, 405 pages. 10 copies. When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves everything to the 20-year-old American twin daughters of her own long-estranged twin, Edie. Valentina and Julia move into Elspeth’s London flat and through a series of developing relationships a crisis develops that could pull the twins apart.
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman, 309 pages. 10 copies. A middle-aged woman, along with her fifteen-year-old daughter, returns to her small Massachusetts hometown for the funeral of the housekeeper who raised her and finds herself thrust into the lives of the people she left behind.
Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, 272 pages. 10 copies. Non-fiction. The Vance family story begins in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout, 256 pages. 10 copies. A finely crafted novel told with smooth economy. It is in the Western genre and recreates a seamless and accurate depiction of territorial Nebraska and with character so real the reader resents it when one dies.
I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts About Being a Woman by Nora Ephron, 137 pages. 7 print copies, 2 audiobooks. (Memoir) A candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself. (Set donated by “The Worlds Greatest Book Group.)
I Found You by Lisa Jewell, 352 pages. 10 copies. Three lonely people meet when their lives are in upheaval and learn they are also connected by a haunting 20-year-old mystery. A man is missing, and his new wife is worried. Miles away, a man is found alone and confused on a beach, and his new friend is concerned. Are the two in any way connected and what events have occurred, in the past and in the present, to lead us all here?
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman, 400 pages. 10 copies. Eliza Benedict, a 38-year-old happily married mother of two, receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped her the summer she was 15 and is now on death row. The narrative shifts between the present and that long ago summer, when Eliza involuntarily became a part of Walter’s endless road trip, including the fateful night when he picked up another teenage girl, Holly Tackett.
Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer, 304 pages. 10 pages. A woman finds herself transported to the other lives she might have lived. After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present.
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, 204 pages. 10 copies. Relates a story of love, passion, painful adolescence, and betrayal as seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy–and the man he later becomes–looking back on the events of a single long, hot, and life-altering weekend.
The Ladies’ Paradise by Emile Zola, 480 pages. 10 copies. The story recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century.
The Lake House by Kate Morton, 495 pages. 10 copies. Living on her family’s lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is an inquisitive and precociously talented 16-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…One midsummer’s eve, after a party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Lark & Termite by Jayne Ann Phillips, 282 pages. 10 copies. Set against the backdrop of the Korean War in the 1950s, a novel about family, the repercussions of war, and the bonds that sustain personal relationships focuses on a single family–Lark, her brother Termite, their mother Lola, and Termite’s soldier father, Robert Leavitt.
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy, 325 pages. 10 copies. On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, Annie runs toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future.
The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 352 pages. 10 copies. Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half’s day journey for the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality.
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley, 336 pages. 10 copies. Rowley’s sensitive, hilarious, and emotionally rewarding debut novel explores the effect that pets can have on human lives. Teddy is unhappily single in L.A. In between sessions with his therapist and dates with men he meets online, it is his beloved 12-year-old dachshund, Lily, who occupies his heart. This is a poignant and touchingly relatable tale that readers (particularly animal lovers) will love.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, 352 pages. 10 copies. Each character in the town of Shaker Heights has their unique viewpoint and comes to the story with their own pride and pain. No one is entirely right or wrong, and everyone gets thrown into chaos. The novel explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, 335 pages. 10 copies. For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, 585 pages. 10 copies (Large Print). Major Pettigrew is a very proper and droll widower who resides in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex, England. He is the accidental suitor of the proprietress of the village minimart, a Pakistani widow who shares his love of Kipling and his wry look at the world.
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman, 337 pages. 10 copies. Ove is a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. One November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, 400 pages. 10 copies. Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke, 304 pages. 10 copies. Holly Judge wakes up on Christmas morning knowing “Something had followed them home from Russia.” Trapped at home with her teenage daughter during a blizzard, Holly’s thoughts drift back to the trips she and her husband took to Siberia’s Pokrovka Orphanage #2 to adopt baby Tatiana. Versions of those visits change as the day progresses.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, 256 pages. 10 copies. Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most enduring works. This special restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published. The book also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-published Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son, Jack, and his first wife Hadley.
Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy, 397 pages. 10 copies (Non-fiction). Isabella de’ Medici (1542–1576) was unusually close to her father, Cosimo, the powerful grand duke of Tuscany whose protection allowed her to live an autonomous, glittering Florentine life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome. After Cosimo’s death in 1574, his eldest son, Francesco, reneged on the inheritance Cosimo left Isabella and her children. Like the Kennedys or Windsors, the Medicis are a dynasty brimming with biographical gold.
MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche, 384 pages. 10 copies. (Non-fiction) A memoir, after marrying and moving to Chicago, this 20-something found herself in need of a new best friend. She did the 21st-century thing and started a blog.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, 240 pages. 10 copies. Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah 608 pages. 10 copies. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stroud. 10 copies, 270 pages. At the edge of the continent, in the town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world but doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, 307 pages. 10 copies. New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, 278 pages. 10 copies. A captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins, 384 pages. 10 copies. Ireland, 1959: Young Christy Hurley is a Pavee gypsy, traveling with his father and extended family from town to town, carrying all their worldly possessions in their wagons. Christy carries with him a burden of guilt too, haunted by the story of his mother’s death in childbirth. When his grandfather dies, everything changes. His father decides to settle down temporarily in a town where Christy and his cousin can attend mass and receive proper schooling.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, 336 pages. 10 copies. Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28 year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group. Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris.
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, 304 pages. 10 copies. A fast-read thriller where a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past.
The Past by Tessa Hadley, 362 pages. 10 copies. Three adult sisters and their brother meet up at their grandparents’ country home for their annual family holiday–three long, summer weeks. The beloved but crumbling house is full of memories of their childhood–of when their mother took them to stay with her parents when she left their father–but this could be their last summer in the house, now they may have to sell it. And under the idyllic pastoral surface, there are tensions.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind and John E. Woods, 255 pages. 10 copies. In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. He becomes obsessed with capturing smells. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin.
Pilate’s Cross by J. Alexander Greenwood (Kansas City author), 224 pages. 10 copies. Inspired by a true story, Pilate’s Cross follows John Pilate, his sardonic imaginary pal Simon and lovely new friend Kate as they investigate the cold case mystery of a murdered college president. In too deep to wash his hands of the mystery, Pilate risks his life to uncover the truth of what happened in 1963 and why it’s just as deadly today. This is the first in the “John Pilate” series.
Plainsong by Kent Haruf, 301 pages. 11 copies. Ambitious, but never seeming so, Kent Haruf reveals a whole community as he interweaves the stories of a pregnant high school girl, a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, and a couple of crusty bachelor farmers. From simple elements, Haruf achieves a novel of wisdom and grace. First of a trilogy.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, 384 pages. 10 copies. Debut novelist Blake takes readers back and forth between small town America and war-torn Europe in 1940. Blake captures two different worlds—a naïve nation in denial and, across the ocean, a continent wracked with terror.
The Reivers by William Faulkner, 305 pages. 10 copies. This grand misadventure is the story of three unlikely thieves, or reivers: 11-year-old Lucius Priest and two of his family’s retainers. In 1905, these three set out from Mississippi for Memphis in a stolen motorcar. The astonishing and complicated results reveal Faulkner as a master storyteller.
The Rocks by Peter Nichols, 419 pages. 10 copies. Set on the island of Mallorca, The Rocks is a double love story told in reverse. Opening in 2005 with a dramatic event that seems to seal the mystery of two lives, the story moves backwards in time, unravelling over sixty years. As one story is revealed, another, sweeter one, a love story of a couple from the younger generation, arises in the wake of their elder’s failures.
Room by Emma Donoghue, 321 pages. 10 copies. In many ways Jack is a typical 5-year old. But Jack is different in a big way – he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the space with his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their world suddenly expands, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, 352 pages. 10 copies. On the last night of 1937, 25 year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.
To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman, 306 pages. 12 copies. Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century, but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women’s baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father’s hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town. To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, 496 pages. 11 copies. Early 1960’s England. Sixteen-year-old Laurel lives an idyllic life with her beloved mother, father, three sisters and brother in an isolated house in the countryside – until the day a stranger surprises their mother outside their home. Laurel, hidden in a treehouse, witnesses this meeting and its shocking outcome.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, 176 pages. 10 copies. This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. When he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.
Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen, 892 pages. 10 copies. A reworking of the author’s trilogy chronicles the legacy of E.J. Watson, a notorious desperado gunned down by his neighbors along the lawless nineteenth-century frontier of the Florida Everglades.
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, 322 pages. 10 copies. Forced to leave Shanghai when their father sells them to California suitors, sisters May and Pearl struggle to adapt to life in 1930s LA while still bound to old customs, as they face discrimination and confront a life-altering secret.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, 369 pages. 10 copies. U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island’s Ashcliffe Hospital in search of an escaped mental patient, but uncover wickedness as the mysterious patient treatments propel them to the brink of insanity.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane, 400 pages 10 copies. Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths.
The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, 404 pages. 10 copies. As World War II draws closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but also her two daughters and mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she doesn’t expect is to fall in love with one of the German soldiers who take up residence next door.
The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve, 320 pages. 10 copies. In October 1947, Grace Holland is experiencing two simultaneous droughts. An unseasonably hot, dry summer has turned the state of Maine into a tinderbox, and Grace and her husband, Gene, have fallen out of love. One night she awakes to find that wildfires are racing toward her house. By morning, her life is forever changed and she is left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists.
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, 371 pages. 10 copies. Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet life as a retired police detective – a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental experience is actually the least of her problems.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, 260 pages. 10 copies. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over–and see everything anew.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, 334 pages. 10 copies. A profane and dizzying satire, a dystopic vision of the future. Also a pointedly old-fashioned May-December love story. Mired in protracted adolescence, middle-aged Lenny Abramov is obsessed with living forever, and Eunice Park, a 20-something Korean-American. A rich commentary on the obsessions and catastrophes of the information age and a heartbreaker worthy of its title.
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, 557 pages. 10 copies. In 1888, Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow hoard shillings and pennies so they can marry and open a shop. But through a series of events they end up apart and on separate sides of the Atlantic. Misunderstandings and mistakes keep them apart as they build separate lives and incredible fortunes.
Tell it Like Tupper by J. Mark Powell, 274 pages. 10 copies. A car breaks down on a snowy road in rural Iowa, a passerby offers a ride, and a friendship is formed that will launch one man on the path to political greatness while unwittingly driving the other into the national spotlight and pushing his family to the brink of disintegration. With this chance meeting, fate intertwines the lives of Glenn Tupper, a small engine repairman who lives a quiet life in tiny Creston, Iowa, with Senator Phil Granby, a presidential candidate.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, 219 pages. 10 copies. Widely acknowledged as a beloved classic of American literature. The novel tells the life story of Janie, an African-American woman. There are powerful themes of female bonding, identity, and empowerment which bring an added dimension to this book.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, 406 pages. 10 copies. When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let biographer Margaret Lea write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper, 339 pages. 10 copies. Judd Foxman is thrown together with his dysfunctional family when his father dies, while at the same time coping with his wife’s infidelity and the end of his marriage.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Shine, 292 pages. 10 copies. Betty Weissmann is 75 when her husband of nearly 50 years announces he’s divorcing her. Betty lands in rundown Westport with her two daughters, who have problems of their own. Think Sense & Sensibility.
Touch by Courtney Maum, 320 pages. 10 copies. Estranged from her family, trend forecaster Sloane Jacobsen is the perfect candidate to lead a tech giant’s conference for consumers who prefer virtual relationships to the real thing. But Sloane starts picking up on cues that physical intimacy is going to make a comeback. And if Sloane goes rogue against her powerful employer, will she be able to let in the love and connectedness she’s long been denying herself? Touch is a moving investigation into what it means to be an individual in a globalized world.
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy, 297 pages. 10 copies. The stepmother persuades the father to abandon the children in the forest, where they find shelter in the cottage of a witch, who locks them in a cage. It’s the scariest of fairy tales, and it’s retold here with realism as a Holocaust novel set in Poland near the end of World War II. The stepmother and the Romani witch are quiet heroes who sacrifice themselves to save the children, while their father is with the partisan army, desperate to find his family.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, 544 pages. 10 copies.Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.
Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson, 320 pages. 10 copies. When Tillies goes into labor while her husband is overseas, she must turn to her estranged father for help. Henderson shifts to the past and has young Tillie tell the story of how her father’s military position forces the family to move, after which her mother sinks into a deep depression and withdraws from her family’s life completely.
What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman, 243 pages. 10 copies. Seventeen year old Wyatt Hillyer is orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to a small town to live with his uncle, aunt and cousin Tilda. Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of a German student Hans Mohring.
The Writing Class by Jincy Willett, 326 pages. 10 copies. Living for the writing class she teaches at the university extension, reclusive widow Amy Gallup senses something different about her latest group of students when she begins to receive scary phone calls and obscene threats that culminate in a murder.
You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon, 240 pages. 10 copies. A collection of loosely connected short stories about Army families, particularly the spouses living at Fort Hood.
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa, 320 pages. 10 pages. Grief-stricken after his mother’s death and three years of wandering the world, Victor is longing for a family and a sense of purpose. He believes he’s found both when he returns home to Seattle only to be swept up in a massive protest. With young, biracial Victor on one side of the barricades and his estranged father–the white chief of police–on the opposite, the day descends into chaos.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler, 400 pages. 10 copies. When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame.