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Home > Readers' Resources > Book Discussion Sets

Book Discussion Sets

To reserve a book discussion set, please contact Brad Reha at breha@wichita.gov or (316) 261-8574. Book discussion sets check out for six weeks. In addition to providing an easy way to reserve multiple copies of the same title, book discussion sets also provide author backgrounds and suggested questions for discussion.

Fiction - Nonfiction

Fiction

Albom, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. 2003. (10 copies)
Killed in a tragic accident, Eddie, an elderly man who believes that he had an uninspired life, awakens in the afterlife, where he discovers that heaven consists of having five people explain the meaning of one's life. – Novelist

Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. 1991. (10 copies)
The four Garcia girls escape the Dominican Republic and a life of privilege in the 1960s to come to the United States and difficult adjustment. – Novelist

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 1986. (10 copies)
In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the "morally fit'' Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: "of Fred''), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. – Library Journal

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1995. (10 copies)
Wealthy Mr. Darcy and spirited Elizabeth Bennett dislike each other at first sight, and each must contend with their pride and prejudices while Elizabeth's mother plots economically advantageous marriages for all her daughters. – Novelist

Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending. 2011. (10 copies, large print edition)
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career, a single marriage and a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. – Novelist

Berg, Elizabeth. The Art of Mending: A Novel. 2004. (10 copies)
Returning home for a family reunion, Laura Bartone and her brother, Steve, are stunned by their sister's allegations of shocking behavior on the part of their mother, and must come to terms with the truth and lies within their family. – Novelist

Bloodworth-Thomason, Linda. Liberating Paris. 2005. (10 copies)
Successful doctor and family man Wood McIlroy has an affair that prompts an emotional maelstrom among his friends, a situation that is complicated by a national discount store's entry into their small-town community. – Novelist

Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth. 1931. (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. – Novelist

Byatt, Antonia Susan. Possession: A Romance. 1990. (10 copies)
The lives of two modern scholars parallel the lives of the two Victorian poets that the scholars are researching. – Novelist

Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game. 1992. (10 copies)
An expert at simulated war games, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin believes that he is engaged in one more computer war game when, in truth, he is commanding the last Earth fleet against an alien race seeking Earth's complete destruction. – Novelist

Cather, Willa. My Ántonia. 1918. (10 copies)
Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. Find more information at NEABigRead.org.  – Gordon Tapper, Assistant Professor of English, DePauw University

Chevalier, Tracy. Falling Angels. 2001. (15 copies)
In a novel of manners and social divisions set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century England, two girls from different classes become friends, and their families' lives become intertwined in the process. – Novelist

Cheever, John. Thirteen Uncollected Stories. 1994. (10 copies)
These stories were nearly all published in the 1930s by a very young Cheever. Several are Depression tales, set in dead mill towns or waterfront diners and informed by leftist politics; they could serve as fictional accompaniments to Edward Hopper's paintings. Others are set among the Saratoga horse-racing set and appeared in such commercial magazines as Collier's. Surprisingly, women are at the center of many of the stories--strong women, such as the 52-year-old stripper in "The Teaser," who are at a point of crisis in their lives. We can see Cheever exploring style, beginning most obviously with Hemingway, then moving on to Fitzgerald, with Joycean bits here and there. A fascinating example of one writer's beginning; appropriate for Cheever fans at academic and large public libraries. –Brian Kenney, Brooklyn P.L., Library Journal

Close, Jennifer. Girls in White Dresses. 2011. (10 copies)
Attending an endless series of bridal showers for their friend Kristi, three bridesmaids struggle with private challenges, including Isabella's unhappiness at a job where she is nevertheless very successful, Mary's relationship with a man who prioritizes his mother, and Lauren's attraction to a man she despises. – Novelist

Coelho, Paulo. Aleph. 2011. (10 copies)
Aleph marks a return to the author's beginnings. In a frank and surprising personal story, one of the world's most beloved authors embarks on a remarkable and transformative journey of self discovery. Facing a grave crisis of faith and seeking a path of spiritual renewal and growth, he decides to start over: to travel, to experiment and to reconnect with people and the world. On this journey through Europe, Africa and Asia, he will again meet Hilal, the woman he loved 500 years before. This encounter will initiate a mystical voyage through time and space, past and present, in search of himself. Aleph is an encounter with our fears, sins and a search for love and forgiveness with the courage to confront the inevitable challenges of life. – Novelist

Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. 1998. (10 copies)
The spirit of Virginia Woolf permeates the lives of several American readers as evidenced in this trio of tales about the author Woolf, a New Yorker planning a party to honor a writer, and a young mother reading Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. – Amazon

Dallas, Sandra. The Persian Pickle Club. 1995. (10 copies)
When city girl Rita marries local boy Tom and they move back to the farm, Queenie Bean goes out of her way to welcome them. She also encourages Rita to become part of the local quilting group, known as the Persian Pickle Club, so called because it refers to a particular paisley fabric owned by member Ceres Root. Rita, however, underestimates the importance of the Pickle Club, and in her haste to make a name for herself as a reporter, tries to solve the mysterious death of Ella Crook's husband, Ben. She discovers the members' lives are as tightly stitched together as their quilts. - Lynn McCullagh

Day, Robert. The Last Cattle Drive: A Novel. 1983. (10 copies)
Spangler Tukle takes his 250 steers 250 miles to Kansas City with the help of his tough wife, an old ranch hand, and a greenhorn schoolteacher. – Novelist

De Bernieres, Louis. Corelli's Mandolin: A Novel. 1994. (10 copies)
Corelli, an Italian army captain, falls in love with Pelagia Iannis on the island of Cephalonia after the Axis forces occupy the island in World War II. – Novelist

Diamant, Anita. The Red Tent. 1997. (10 copies)
The story of Dinah, a tragic character from the Bible whose great love, a prince, is killed by her brother, leaving her alone and pregnant. The novel traces her life from childhood to death, in the process examining sexual and religious practices of the day, and what it meant to be a woman. – Novelist

Doctorow, E.L.. Ragtime. 1975. (7 copies)
In America at the beginning of this century three families become entwined with Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini, Theodore Dreiser, Sigmund, and Emiliano Zapata. – Novelist

Edgerton, Clyde. Walking Across Egypt. 1997. (10 copies)
The orderly life of 78-year-old Mattie Rigsby of Listre, North Carolina, is disrupted by a stray dog and a teenaged juvenile delinquent. – Novelist

Enger, Leif. Peace Like A River. 2001. (10 copies)
The quiet 1960s Midwestern life of the Land family--father Jeremiah, and children, Reuben, Davy and Swede--is upended when Davy kills two teenage boys who have come to harm the family. On the morning of his sentencing, Davy escapes from his cell and the Lands set out in search of him. Their search is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world. – Novelist

Escandon, Maria. Esperanza's Box of Saints. 1999. (10 copies)
With her favorite saint to guide her, Esperanza Diaz, a beautiful young widow, leaves her humble Mexican village on a search for her missing twelve-year-old daughter and learns the nature of sin and forgiveness. – Novelist

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water For Chocolate: A Novel In Monthly Installments, Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. 1992. (10 copies)
At the beginning of the 20th century, Tita, the youngest of three daughters, is expected to serve her mother for the rest of her life, but in order to show her love to Pedro, who is engaged to her sister, Tita cooks for him. – Novelist

Flagg, Fannie. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Café. 1987. (10 copies)
Mrs. Threadgoode's tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life. – Novelist

Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. 2009.  (10 copies)
Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War ll and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe. - Publisher’s Weekly

Goldberg, Myla. Bee Season. 2000. (10 copies)
An ordinary girl with an exceptional gift for spelling, young Eliza Naumann embarks on the rough-and-tumble spelling bee circuit, where her quirky family will collide with the realities of life. - Novelist

Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha. 1999. (5 copies)
A fictional memoir of a celebrated Japanese geisha describes how, as a little girl in 1929, she is sold into slavery. her efforts to learn the arts of the geisha; the impact of World War II; and her struggle to reinvent herself to win the man she loves is brilliantly portrayed in this story. – Novelist

Goodman, Allegra. Kaaterskill Falls. 1998. (10 copies)
A small Orthodox Jewish sect spends summers in a Dutch community, and in 1976, the townspeople begin to resent the intrusion, and female members of the group chafe under its laws and restrictions. – Novelist

Goodman, Carol. The Lake of Dead Languages. 2003. (10 copies)
Returning to the Heart Lake School for Girls as a Latin teacher to start a new life with her daughter, Jane is haunted by past tragedy and terrifying memories when she begins receiving menacing messages. – Novelist

Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. 2006. (10 copies)
Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope. – Novelist

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 2003. (10 copies)
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother. – Novelist

Haigh, Jennifer. Mrs. Kimble. 2003. (8 copies)
Haigh’s luminous debut novel is the story of the three women who become the wives of Ken Kimble, a minister turned real estate agent. For all three, Kimble remains an elusive man, who at first appears to be each woman’s ideal, only to reveal his true colors later on. Haigh introduces Kimble’s first wife, Birdie, after he has already abandoned her and their two children, Charlie and Jody. Only 26 when he leaves her, Birdie falls into depression and alcoholism while trying to provide for her children. Kimble meets his second wife, Joan, while engaged to a 19-year-old college dropout. At 39, Joan is recovering from breast cancer and a subsequent mastectomy that she has told no one about. Kimble is a welcome presence in the lonely, never-married Joan’s life, and when he and his fiancée begin to quarrel, she impulsively invites him to move in with her. Kimble’s third wife, Dinah, is young enough to be his daughter, and indeed, used to baby-sit for his children when he was married to Birdie. Highly sensitive about the birthmark that mars her face, Dinah allows Kimble to pay for a procedure to have it removed. Each Mrs. Kimble is vulnerable to the manipulative Ken in one way or another, and each manages to delude herself about truly seeing him for what he is, even when all of the evidence is right in front of her. The women are both weak and strong in their own ways, and the ending proves that Kimble may have done some good in spite of himself. – Booklist

Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. 1992. (10 copies)
Sam Spade's search for the murderer of his partner becomes entangled with the search for the Maltese falcon. Find more information at NEABigRead.org. – Novelist

Hammett, Dashiell. The Thin Man. 1992. (10 copies)
Nick Charles searches for a wealthy inventor who is the prime suspect in a New York City murder case. – Novelist

Hamill, Pete. Snow in August: A Novel. 1997. (10 copies)
Michael Devlin, an 11-year-old Irish American, meets Rabbi Hirsch, recently arrived from Europe, and in return for teaching the rabbi about baseball and English, the rabbi teaches Michael Yiddish and tells him about Prague, until an Irish gang becomes violent in its anti-Semitism. – Novelist

Harkness, Deborah. A Discovery of Witches. 2011. (10 copies)
Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure. - Novelist

Haruf, Kent. Plainsong. 1999. (10 copies)
An unlikely extended family is formed when a high school teacher helps a pregnant student make a home with two elderly bachelor ranchers. – Novelist

Hijuelos, Oscar. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. 1989. (10 copies)
Brothers immigrate to New York City in 1949 and form a band with their popularity peaking in 1956 when they get to perform on I Love Lucy. – Novelist

Hoeg, Peter. Smilla's Sense of Snow. 1993. (10 copies)
Smilla Jaspersen, half Danish, half Greenlander, attempts to understand the death of a small boy who falls from the roof of her apartment building. Her childhood in Greenland gives her an appreciation for the complex structures of snow, and when she notices that the boy's footprints show he ran to his death, she decides to find out who was chasing him. – Amazon

Horan, Nancy. Loving Frank. 2007. (10 copies)
Fact and fiction blend in a historical novel that chronicles the relationship between seminal architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, from their meeting, when they were each married to another, to the clandestine affair that shocked Chicago society.—Novelist

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. 2003. (10 copies)
Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day. – Novelist

Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. 2007. (10 copies)
Two women born a generation apart witness the destruction of their home and family in war-torn Kabul, losses incurred over the course of thirty years that test the limits of their strength and courage. – Novelist

Hughes, Kathleen. Dear Mrs. Lindbergh: A Novel. 2003. (10 copies)
In the wake of their parents' carefully orchestrated disappearance, the adult children of the Gutterson's read a series of letters by their mother and learn how their parents finally discovered what was missing in their lives. – Novelist

Hull, Jonathan. Losing Julia. 2000. (10 copies)
From the French battlefields of World War I to a present-day nursing home in California, Patrick Delaney describes his long-time love for Julia, the wife of his best friend, Daniel, as he meets her as a young widow at a memorial service at Verdun, France, through their brief time together, to their ultimate separation and its impact on his life. – Novelist

Hunt, Rebecca. Mr. Chartwell. 2010. (10 copies)
In her sad, hopeful and very original debut, Hunt examines two battles with depression. One has already been lost and one where there is still a possibility of winning. The story follows the parallel lives of a lonely young London librarian, Esther Hammerhans, and the celebrated statesman, Winston Churchill, during the days before he retires in July of 1964. Esther, whose husband committed suicide two years earlier is renting out the spare room in her home, but when she opens the door to her new tenant, Mr. Chartwell, she finds herself face to face with a huge talking, upright walking, black dog. Esther soon learns that when Chartwell (a.k.a. Black Pat) leaves the house, it is to pay regular visits to Churchill and psychologically torture him, which he has been doing for years. Chartwell is no mere talking dog; he is a dark, lingering presence that has come to try to torment Esther into depression, much like he did her late husband. Taking a hard look at the demons that haunt people, Hunt's story is a clever illumination of the suffering of so many and their status on the social scale offering no protection. - Novelist

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. (10 copies)
Of Hurston's fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God is arguably the best-known and perhaps the most controversial. The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. Hurston sets up her characters and her locale in the first chapter, which, along with the last, acts as a framing device for the story of Janie's life. Unlike Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston does not write explicitly about black people in the context of a white world--a fact that earned her scathing criticism from the social realists--but she doesn't ignore the impact of black-white relations either. Find more information at NEABigRead.org. – Amazon  

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. 2006. (10 copies)
A reunion with two childhood friends draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at Hailsham, an isolated private school in the English countryside, and a confrontation with the truth about their childhoods. – Novelist

Kallos, Stephanie. Broken for You. 2005. (10 copies)
Margaret Hughes, a septuagenarian living in Seattle, takes in a series of boarders who help her cope with her illness, and whose lives become unexpectedly connected to each other. – Novelist

Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees. 2002. (10 copies)
After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters. – Novelist

King, Cassandra. The Same Sweet Girls. 2006. (10 copies)
Every two years, a tight-knit group of Southern women, friends since college, come together for a reunion to renew their relationships with one another, each of them having an incredible story to tell about the course their lives have taken. – Novelist

Lanchester, John. Mr. Phillips. 2001. (10 copies)
A man who has settled into a safe, ordinary suburban life wakes one day to find himself "sacked"--fired and cast adrift to re-discover and re-invent himself. – Novelist

Landvik, Lorna. Patty Jane's House of Curl: A Novel. 1995. (10 copies)
Two Minnesota sisters establish a beauty shop that becomes a support group and community center. – Novelist

LeGuin, Ursula. The Left Hand of Darkness. 2000. (10 copies)
While on a mission to the planet Gethen, earthling Genly Ai is sent by leaders of the nation of Orgoreyn to a concentration camp from which the exiled prime minister of the nation of Karhide tries to rescue him. – Novelist

Lethem, Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. 2000. (9 copies)
Lionel Essrog has always respected Frank Minna, who helped him out when he was young, and when Frank is found dead, Lionel and his friends, the Minna Men, scour the streets of Brooklyn in search of the killer. – Novelist

Lipman, Elinor. The Pursuit of Alice Thrift. 2003. (10 copies)
Alice Thrift, a socially inept surgical intern at a Boston hospital, is pursued romantically by shady social climber Ray Russo, until her roommate and her neighbor decide to guide Alice through the social complexities of life. – Novelist

McBride, James. Miracle at St. Anna. 2003. (10 copies)
Set in Italy during World War II, Miracle of St. Anna is the story of four Negro soldiers in the 92nd all-black, segregated Buffalo Division. Sam Train, one of these soldiers, befriends a six-year-old Italian boy who leads the soldier and his squad into the Serchio Valley and the site of a tragic massacre. – Novelist

McCall Smith, Alexander. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. 2002. (10 copies)
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives." – author’s website

McCann, Colum. Let the Great World Spin. 2009. (10 copies)
A rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery and promise of New York City in the 1970s.  A radical young Irish monk struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx.  A group of mothers gathers in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief.  A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. A 38-year-old grandmother turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to care for her family but to prove her own worth.  Weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s allegory comes alive in the voices of the city’s people. – From the publisher’s description.

McEwan, Ian. Saturday. 2006. (10 copies)
A successful, happily married neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne is drawn into a confrontation with Baxter, a small-time thug, following a minor motor vehicle accident, an encounter that has savage consequences. – Novelist

McFadden, Bernice. Sugar. 2001. (10 copies)
Set in a small Arkansas town in the 1950s, a tale of loyalty and friendship between two African American women finds Jude turning to the church after the death of her daughter, and to a young woman who turns out to be a prostitute. – Novelist

Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West: A Novel. 1995. (10 copies)
Set in an Oz where a morose Wizard battles suicidal thoughts, the story of the green-skinned Elphaba, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West, profiles her as an animal rights activist striving to avenge her dear sister's death. – Novelist

Malott, Jason Quinn. The Evolution of Shadows. 2009. (10 copies)
Alternating between 1995 and 2000, Malott's first novel concerns a group of journalists covering the Bosnian War who later return to Sarajevo to try to learn what happened to one of their company charismatic photographer Gray Banick, who stared down atrocities through the lens of a camera. Among them are Banick's Bosnian interpreter, Emil Todorovic, who has suffered a horrific loss at the hands of the Serbs; hard-drinking correspondent Jack MacKenzie, whose addiction to the adrenaline rush of war has cost him his family; and Lian Zhao, a Chinese American woman. Lian had a brief but passionate affair with Banick in Kansas City, which ended when she bowed to the wishes of her traditionalist parents and married another Chinese American. Her feelings stirred again after receiving a letter from Emil asking about Gray, she returns with the others to the village where he was last seen in the hopes of uncovering clues to his fate. – Booklist

March, Mia. The Meryl Streep Movie Club. 2012. (10 copies)
Summoned to their aunt's coastal Maine home, a separated woman with a secret, her single-mom sister, and their recently engaged cousin rekindle ties, questions and their beliefs over movies starring their aunt's favorite actress. – Novelist

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. 2001. (10 copies)
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper's son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and hungry Bengal tiger remain. – Novelist

Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus. 2011. (10 copies)
A fierce competition is underway, a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in "a game," in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. – Novelist

Moriarty, Laura. The Center of Everything. 2004. (10 copies)
Fending for herself in the wake of a chronically unemployed, dysfunctional mother, ten-year-old Evelyn Bucknow experiences feelings of confinement in their small Midwestern town and suffers the heartache of a first love. – Novelist

Moyes, JoJo. The Last Letter from Your Lover. 2011. (10 copies)
More than forty years after a car accident causes Jennifer Stirling to lose her memory on the day she planned to leave her husband for a mysterious lover, journalist Ellie becomes obsessed by the story and seeks the truth in the hopes of revitalizing her career. – Novelist

Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler's Wife. 2003. (10 copies)
Passionately in love, Clare and Henry vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry involuntarily into the world of time travel. – Novelist

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. 1990. (10 copies)
Heroic young men carry the emotional weight of their lives to war in Vietnam in a patchwork account of a modern journey into the heart of darkness. Find more information at NEABigRead.org. – Novelist

O’Nan, Stewart. The Odds: A Love Story. 2012. (10 copies)
On the eve of their thirtieth anniversary, Marion and Art Fowler flee to Niagara Falls for Valentine's weekend desperate to make two great bets. Jobless, with their home approaching foreclosure and their marriage on the brink of collapse, Art and Marion liquidate their savings and book the bridal suite at the Falls’ ritziest casino for a second honeymoon.  While they sightsee by day, at night they risk it all at the roulette wheel fighting to rescue their home, fix their finances and - against even greater odds - save their marriage. – Book jacket

Ondaatje, Michael. Anil's Ghost. 2000. (10 copies)
A young forensic anthropologist is sent by an international human rights group to her homeland, Sri Lanka, to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island. – Novelist

Otsuka, Julie. The Buddha in the Attic. 2011. (10 copies, large print edition)
Her second novel tells the stories of Japanese mail-order brides at the start of the twentieth century in a first-person-plural narrative voice, the choral "we." This creates an incantatory and haunting group portrait of diverse women who make the arduous ocean journey to California buoyant with hope only to marry strangers, nothing like the handsome young men in the photographs that lured them so far from home. Prejudice and hardship soon transform the brides into fingers-worked-to-the-bone laborers, toiling endlessly as domestic workers, farmers, prostitutes, and merchants. Every aspect of female life is candidly broached in Otsuka’s concise yet grandly dramatic saga as these determined, self-sacrificing outsiders navigate the white water of American society, only to watch their American-born children disdain all things Japanese. – Booklist

Otto, Whitney. How to Make an American Quilt. 1991. (10 copies)
As members of a women's quilting group work their art, their stories of grief, passion, youth, and age are played out in a multigenerational, multi-layered narrative. – Novelist

Pagan, Camille Noe. The Art of Forgetting. 2011. (10 copies)
Preferring a meek and unassuming role in her personal and professional arenas, Marissa Rogers is forced to reevaluate her choices when her once-domineering best friend loses her memory in an accident, causing Marissa to confront painful shared memories and eventually gain new confidence. – Novelist

Parkin, Gaile. Baking Cakes in Kigali. 2010. (10 copies).
This soaring novel introduces us to Angel Tungaraza: mother, cake baker, pillar of her community and keeper of secrets big and small. Angel’s kitchen is an oasis in the heart of Rwanda, where visitors stop to order cakes but end up sharing their stories, transforming their lives and leaving with new hope. In this vibrant, powerful setting, unexpected things are beginning to happen. A most unusual wedding is planned, a heartbreaking mystery involving Angel’s own family unravels, and extraordinary connections are made as a chain of events unfolds that will change Angel’s life and lives of those around her in the most astonishing ways. - Amazon

Parks, Gordon. The Learning Tree. 1989. (10 copies)
During the 1920s, Newt grows up as a young minority boy in a Kansas community. – Novelist

Patchett, Ann. Bel Canto: A Novel. 2001. (10 copies)
When terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, an unlikely assortment of people is thrown together, including American opera star Roxane Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese CEO and her biggest fan. – Novelist

Perrotta, Tom. Little Children. 2005. (10 copies)
A group of young suburban parents, including a stay-at-home dad, a former feminist, and an over-structured mom, finds its sleepy existence shattered when a convicted child molester moves back into town and two of the parents have an affair. – Novelist

Phillips, Scott. The Ice Harvest. 2000. (10 copies)
As lawyer Charlie Arglist prepares to leave Wichita, Kansas, with a suitcase full of stolen money, he revisits the scenes of his past--his angry ex-wife, ex-lovers, cops on the take, and bars filled with secrets that others will do anything to hide. – Novelist

Pickard, Nancy. The Virgin of Small Plains. 2006. (10 copies)
Seventeen years after the discovery of a female murder victim near Small Plains, Kansas, the girl's grave has become the source of strange miracles and legends, until the return of prodigal son Mitch Newquist threatens to bring old secrets to light. – Novelist

Picoult, Jodi. My Sister’s Keeper. 2004. (10 copies)
Kate Fitzgerald has a vicious from of leukemia.  In order to save her life, her parents find a geneticist to help them select the embryo from which they can create a second daughter and a donor for Kate. – Library Journal

Poe, Edgar Allan. Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. 2009. (10 copies)
Born to an unfortunate heritage, orphaned, unsympathetically raised, and then abandoned, Edgar Allan Poe struggled for greatness in an adverse social and economic climate -- a setting not improved by his fiery temperament and caustic criticism of others. Poe's melancholy brilliance, his passionate lyricism, and his tormented soul would make him one of the most widely read and original writers in American literature. Here, in one volume, are his classic short works: masterpieces of horror, terror, humor, and adventure -- and the finest lyric and narrative poetry of this ill-fated genius whose influence on both prose and verse continues to this day. – Amazon

Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead: A Novel. 2006. (10 copies)
As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets. – Novelist

Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. 1997. (10 copies)
A former athletic star, devoted family man, and owner of a thriving glove factory, Seymour "Swede" Levov finds his life coming apart during the social disorder of the 1960s, when his beloved daughter turns into a revolutionary terrorist out to destroy her father's world.—Novelist

Russell, Mary Doria. Doc: A Novel. 2011. (10 copies)
After the burned body of a mixed-blood boy, Johnnie Sanders, is discovered in 1878 Dodge City, Kansas, part-time policeman Wyatt Earp enlists the help of his professional-gambler friend Doc Holliday. – Novelist

Sapphire. Push: A Novel. 1996. (10 copies)
In an electrifying novel, a black street girl, sixteen years old and pregnant, again, with her father’s child, speaks.  In a voice that shakes us by its language, its story, and its unflinching honesty, Precious Jones records her journey up from Harlem’s lowest depths. – Cover jacket (10 copies)

Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones: A Novel. 2002. (10 copies)
Looking down from heaven, 14-year-old Susie Salmon recounts her rape and murder and watches her family as they cope with their grief and "the lovely bones" growing around her absence. – Novelist

See, Lisa. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. 2005. (10 copies)
See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding, the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See's incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province. – Publisher’s Weekly

Seely, Debra. Grasslands. 2002. (15 copies)
In the 1880s, thirteen-year-old Thomas moves west from the aristocratic Virginia home of his grandparents to a poor Kansas farm to live with a father he barely remembers and his new stepfamily.—Novelist

Shaffer, Mary Ann. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  2008. (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.  – Novelist

Shields, Carol. Unless. 2002. (10 copies)
A mother's grief over a daughter's break with the family revises her feminist outlook and pushes her craft as a writer in a new direction. – Novelist

Shin, Kyung-Sook. Please Look After Mom. 2011. (10 copies)
A stunning, deeply moving story of a family's search for their missing mother, and their discovery of the desires, heartaches and secrets they never realized she harbored within. – Novelist

Sholem Aleichem. Tevye the Dairyman, and The Railroad Stories. 1987. (10 copies)
Israeli professor Hillel Holkin introduces his translation of Sholem Aleichem's stories with an informative, critical look at the turn-of-the-century Jewish author and his work. In the first eight stories of this collection, Tevye, the Russian Jew so familiar from "Fiddler on the Roof," bemoans his fate. In these as well as the following 21 tales, the author displays his splendid storytelling skills, exhibiting a sense of comedy that Holkin terms neither cheering nor escapist, but intended to "confront the reader with reality in its full harshness." These portraits of eastern European shtetl life, of Jews coping with the persecution of czarist Russian, provide a compelling, vital study of the era. Beyond their historical significance, they are phenomenally entertaining as fiction.—Booklist

Simonson, Helen. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. 2010. (10 copies)
Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner? - Syndetics

Sittenfeld, Curtis. Sisterland. 2013. (10 copies)
When the strongest earthquake in U.S. history occurs just north of their St. Louis home, Kate and Jeremy find the disaster further complicated by Kate's self-proclaimed-medium twin's prediction about a more powerful earthquake, a situation that places Kate under public scrutiny and reveals her own psychic abilities. – Novelist

Smiley, Jane. The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel. 1998. (10 copies)
In Quincy, Illinois, Lidie, 20, marries abolitionist Thomas Newton and goes with him to Kansas, but when Thomas is murdered, she disguises herself to get revenge. – Novelist

Smith, Alexander McCall. Trains and Lovers. 2012. (10 copies)
Inspired by a love of trains and the nature of love, a series of intertwined romantic tales follows the experiences of four strangers traveling from Edinburgh to London who entertain each other with reminiscences about how trains have changed their lives.  – Novelist

Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. 2003. (10 copies)
A young girl in a shabby neighborhood lives with dreams in an innocent time before the war. – Novelist

Smith, Dodie. I Capture the Castle. 1998. (10 copies).
This is a story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"—and the heart of the reader in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments. - Amazon

Smith, Zadie. White Teeth: A Novel. 2000. (10 copies)
Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families--the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British Empire--as they make their way in modern England. – Novelist

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. 1992. (10 copies)
This is Spiegelman’s compelling telling of his father Vladek’s life story, that of a middle-class Polish Jew who survived the Nazi death camps.  The first six chapters employ a simple, chillingly effective iconography: Jews have the faces of mice; the Nazis, those of cats. – Booklist Review

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. (10 copies)
The Joad family, Okie farmers forced from their dustbowl home during the Depression, try to find work as migrant fruitpickers in California. Find more information at NEABigRead.org. – Novelist

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. 2009. (10 copies)
The novel is set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. – Publisher’s Weekly

Stokes, Penelope J. The Blue Bottle Club. 1999. (10 copies)
A reporter finds slips of paper on which four teenage girls wrote down their dreams in 1929 and tracks down the now senior women whose dreams have been torn, but who still have a common thread running through their lives. – Novelist

Sullivan, J. Courtney. Maine: A Novel. 2011. (10 copies)
Three generations of women converge on the family beach house in this wickedly funny, emotionally resonant story of love and dysfunction. – Novelist

Tan, Amy. The Bonesetter's Daughter. 2001. (10 copies)
Over the course of one fog-shrouded year, mother and daughter find what they share in their bones through heredity, history, and inexpressible qualities of love. – Novelist

Trigiani, Adriana. Big Stone Gap. 2000. (10 copies)
The 35-year-old self-proclaimed spinster of a small Virginia village discovers a skeleton in her family's formerly tidy closet that completely unravels her quiet, conventional life. – Novelist

Umrigar, Thrity N. The Space Between Us. 2007. (10 copies)
Captures the delicate balance of class and gender in contemporary India as witnessed through the lives of two women--Sera Dubash, an upper middle-class housewife, and Bhima, an illiterate domestic hardened by a life of loss and despair. – Novelist

Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel. 2009. (10 copies)
For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this true-life novel by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose mega selling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily's plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents' penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby's crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states—New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois—but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience. – Publisher’s Weekly

White, Karen. On Folly Beach. 2010. (10 copies)
Janie Hamilton is a widow at age twenty-nine having lost her husband in Afghanistan. Mired in grief, she's unable to move on until she comes across hidden love notes in a box of books purchased from the store Folly's Finds. Intrigued by what appears to be a clandestine love affair from the 1940s, Janie is prompted to move to Folly Beach, South Carolina, where she purchases the local bookstore. – Novelist

Wroblewski, David. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. 2008. (10 copies)
A tale reminiscent of Hamlet that also celebrates the alliance between humans and dogs follows speech-disabled Wisconsin youth Edgar, who bonds with three yearling canines and struggles to prove that his sinister uncle is responsible for his father's death. – Novelist

Yezierska, Anzia. Bread Givers: A Novel. 1975. (10 copies)
Yezierska, who emigrated from Poland to America in 1890, tells the story of Sara Smolinsky, the youngest of five daughters living on the Lower East Side's Hester Street in the 1920s. Sara's father is a rabbi, a learned man who studies undisturbed while his wife and daughters struggle to cobble together a meager existence. After her father marries each of her sisters off in loveless (and often dubious) arrangements, Sara flees home, desperate to escape the same fate and determined to breathe in "the new air of America."—Nextbook

Young, William P. The Shack. 2007. (10 copies)
Four years after his daughter is abducted and evidence of her murder is found in an abandoned shack, Mackenzie Allen Philips returns to the shack in response to a note claiming to be from God, and has a life-changing experience. – Novelist

Nonfiction

Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate. 2000. (10 copies)
Barbara Mikulski, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche L. Lincoln share something deeper than their political proclivities: gender has been the strongest characteristic of their personal and professional lives, and each one has overcome enormous obstacles to reach the old boys' club that is the Senate. As evidence of their remarkable camaraderie, they've now collaborated to share their stories in the hopes of encouraging other women to follow suit. – Amazon

This I Believe: the Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women. 2006. (10 copies).
Based on the NPR series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty Americans, famous and unknown, completing the thought that the book’s title begins. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs, but also the extent to which they share them with others. - Amazon

Aciman, Andre. Out of Egypt: A Memoir. 1994. (10 copies)
Aciman presents a rich and captivating portrait of a Jewish family from cosmopolitan Alexandria, Egypt. From their arrival there at the turn of the century until their departure three generations later, the members of Aciman's clan experienced adventures and harrowing disappointments. – Library Journal

Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 1969. (10 copies)
Maya Angelou's autobiography was the first book I ever read that made me feel my life as a colored girl growing up in Mississippi deserved validation. I loved it from the opening lines. – Oprah Magazine

Armstrong, Lance. It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. 2000. (10 copies)
Multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is a winner in the game of life itself: He has survived cancer, found love, and become a father. In the pages of his memoir, Armstrong tells his own moving and inspiring story, writing in his signature down-to-earth Texas style. This is an amazing tale of recovery in the face of tragedy and victory against overwhelming odds. – Barnes and Noble

Berendt, John. Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story. 1994. (10 copies)
In charming, beautiful, and wealthy old-South Savannah, Georgia, the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, and a gripping trial follows. – Novelist

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences. 1965. (10 copies)
An account of the senseless murder of a Kansas farm family and the search for the killers. –Novelist

Clift, Eleanor. Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. 2003. (10 copies)
Beginning with the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention of 1848, Clift introduces the movement's leaders, recounts the marches and demonstrations, and profiles the opposition--antisuffragists, both men and women, who would do anything to stop women from getting the vote. - CBS News

Didion, Joan. Blue Nights. 2011. (10 copies)
This novel shares the author's frank observations about her daughter as well as her own thoughts and fears about having children and growing old.  It is a personal account that discusses her daughter's wedding and her feelings of failure as a parent. – Novelist

Drape, Joe. Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen. 2009. (10 copies)
The football team in Smith Center, Kansas has won sixty-seven games in a row, the nation’s longest high-school winning streak. They have done so by embracing a philosophy of life taught by their legendary coach, Roger Barta: "Respect each other, then learn to love each other and together we are champions." As they embarked on a quest for a fifth consecutive title in the fall of 2008, they faced a potentially destabilizing transition: the greatest senior class in school history had graduated and Barta was contemplating retirement after three decades on the sidelines. In Smith Center, population 1,931, this changing of the guard was seismic. Hours removed from the nearest city, the town revolves around "our boys" in a way that goes to the heart of what America’s heartland is all about. - Amazon

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. 2001. (10 copies)
Determined to find out how anyone could make ends meet on $7 an hour, she left behind her middle class life as a journalist except for $1000 in start-up funds, a car and her laptop computer to try to sustain herself as a low-skilled worker for a month at a time. - Publishers Weekly

Eire, Carols M.N. Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy. 2003. (10 copies)
At the start of the 1960s, an operation called Pedro Pan flew more than fourteen thousand Cuban children out of the country, without their parents, and deposited them in Miami. Eire, now a professor of history and religion at Yale, was one of them. His deeply moving memoir describes his life before Castro, among the aristocracy of old Cuba—his father, a judge, believed himself to be the reincarnation of Louis XVI—and, later, in America, where he turned from a child of privilege into a Lost Boy. Eire's tone is so urgent and so vividly personal (he is even nostalgic about Havana's beautiful blue clouds of DDT) that his unsparing indictments of practically everyone concerned, including himself, seem all the more remarkable. – The New Yorker

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. 1995. (15 copies)
An uncut edition of Anne Frank's diary includes entries originally omitted by her father and provides insight into Anne's relationship with her mother. – Novelist

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. 2005. (10 copies)
Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln's political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration--Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general--he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin's fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods. –amazon.com

Hoffman, Eva. Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language. 1989. (10 copies)
Hoffman's penetrating, lyrical memoir casts a wide net as it joins vivid anecdotes and vigorous philosophical insights on Old World Cracow and Ivy League America; Polish anti-Semitism; the degradations suffered by immigrants; Hoffman's cultural nostalgia, self-analysis and intellectual passion; and the atrophy of her Polish from disuse and her own disabling inarticulateness in English as a newcomer. – Publishers Weekly

Kimmel, Haven. A Girl Named Zippy. 2001. (10 copies)
Kimmel's smooth, impeccably humorous prose evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel. Born in 1965, she grew up in Mooreland, Ind., a place that by some "mysterious and powerful mathematical principle" perpetually retains a population of 300, a place where there's no point learning the street names because it's just as easy to say, "We live at the four-way stop sign." Hers is less a formal autobiography than a collection of vignettes comprising the things a small child would remember: sick birds, a new bike, reading comics at the drugstore, the mean old lady down the street. The truths of childhood are rendered in lush yet simple prose. – Publisher’s Weekly

King, W.D. Collections of Nothing. 2008. (10 copies)
King, a professor at Santa Barbara, has spent decades collecting things that nobody else would want: food packages and labels (he has about eighteen thousand), illustrations snipped from old dictionaries (seven thousand), linings of "security" envelopes (eight hundred patterns), "the mute, meager, practically valueless object, like a sea-washed spigot, its mouth stoppered by a stone." What makes this book, bred of a midlife crisis, extraordinary is the way King weaves his autobiography into the account of his collection, deftly demonstrating that the two stories are essentially one. "I lost and found myself in remote topical aisles of scholarship-wreck," he says of his hours in Yale’s library, reading the most obscure books he could find. His hard-won self-awareness gives his disclosures an intensity that will likely resonate with all readers, even those whose collections of nothing contain nothing at all. – The New Yorker

Koppel, Lily. The Astronaut Wives Club. 2013. (10 copies)
Describes what lives were like for a group of military wives, including Annie Glenn, Rene Carpenter, Betty Grissom, and Louise Shepherd, who were thrust into the spotlight when their husbands became Mercury Seven astronauts.
–Novelist

Laskin, David. The Children's Blizzard. 2005. (10 copies)
The morning of January 12, 1888, dawned so unseasonably mild that many children in the Midwest walked to school without heavy coats or gloves. That afternoon, the quiet skies broke suddenly into a raging chaos of hurricane-force winds and blinding snows. Thousands of people, many of them schoolchildren returning home from class, were stranded in this bone-numbing blizzard. By the next morning, more than 500 people lay dead, many of them children caught just a few yards from shelter. David Laskin's The Children's Blizzard captures a weather event so horrific that its savage blasts are still remembered in Nebraska, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. – Barnes and Noble

Mayle, Peter. A Year in Provence. 1990. (10 copies)
An amusing account of an English couple's first year as residents of rural Provence, from the unpleasantness of the winter mistral to the transgressions of summer tourists. Since the old farmhouse they purchased needed repairs, they were immediately beset with problems in dealing with the foibles of local craftspeople and officialdom, not to mention the neighbors--human and animal. Nowhere in France is the consumption of food and drink taken more seriously, and food preparation, dining, and wining anecdotes are prominent in virtually every chapter. – Sondra Brunhumer, Western Michigan Univ. Libs.

McCourt, Frank. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir. 1996. (10 copies)
The author recounts his childhood in Depression-era Brooklyn as the child of Irish immigrants who decide to return to worse poverty in Ireland when his infant sister dies. – Novelist

Merriman, Mira Pajes. The Pilgrim Soul. (10 copies)
This memoir recounts the author's white-knuckle escape at age seven through Poland and across Russia-the German war machine always two steps behind. Reunited in New York, she and her parents settle in Manhattan but peace remains out of reach as domestic turmoil, eccentric refugee friends, Zionist summer camp and an environment of political and ideological uncertainties create a life fraught with new adversities. She and her friend plot a life of artistic escape and greatness. With her father she's held tight in a chafing bond of love and rebellion. A failed marriage, artistic and existential despair, and disillusionment with post-World War II American society drive her to escape again, this time to paint in Spain. But peace remains out of reach there, too, despite a love affair, a conversion to Catholicism, and efforts at religious dedication. This chronicle of Jewish escape from Europe tracks the twists and turns of that displacement, and an immigrant generation's struggle to build a new life in America. - Publisher

Mortenson, Greg. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace—One School at a Time. 2006. (10 copies)
One man's campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia: In 1993, Greg Mortenson was an American mountain-climbing bum wandering emaciated and lost through Pakistan's Karakoram. After he was taken in and nursed back to health by the people of a Pakistani village, he promised to return one day and build them a school. From that rash, earnest promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time--Mortenson's one-man mission to counteract extremism by building schools, especially for girls, throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban. In a region where Americans are often feared and hated, he has survived kidnapping, death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. But his success speaks for itself—at last count, his Central Asia Institute had built fifty-five schools. – publisher notes

Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. 2003. (10 copies)
In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." – Amazon

Norris, Kathleen. Cloister Walk. 1997. (10 copies)
After spending two extended residences at a Benedictine monastery, Kathleen Norris takes readers through one liturgical year--its rituals, its prayers, its daily activities. Through her accessible prose, a seemingly archaic world becomes immediate, accessible, and relevant to people of all faiths. – Barnes and Noble

Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. 2008. (10 copies).
When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon was asked to give his last lecture; he didn’t have to imagine it as his last since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"—wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have . . . and you may find one day that you have less then you think." It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. - Amazon

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 1984. (10 copies)
Arguably one of the most profoundly important essays ever written on the nature and significance of "quality" and definitely a necessary anodyne to the consequences of a modern world pathologically obsessed with quantity. Although set as a story of a cross-country trip on a motorcycle by a father and son, it is more nearly a journey through 2,000 years of Western philosophy. – Amazon

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven. (graphic edition) Illustrated by Ryan Price. 2006 (10+ copies)
Illustrations for poetry can sometimes overwhelm the verbal images and get in the way of the words, but in this small, handsome volume, Price’s grim, sepia-tone stylized pictures, decorated with feathery, black cross-hatching, do a great job of evoking the brooding guilt, terror, grief, and love in Poe’s famous poem.  – Booklist

Sanchez, Leslie. You’ve Come a Long Way Maybe. 2009. (10 copies)
Leslie Sanchez is taking the assumptions and myths about women in politics and turning them on their heads.  DC based Sanchez lives in the hotbed of high level politics and can answer these questions with unparalleled authority, experience, sass, and candor. –lesliesanchez.com

Shachtman, Tom. Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish. 2007. (10 copies).
Shachtman’s book is a celebrated look at a little known Amish coming-of-age ritual, the rumspringa. This is the period of "running around" that begins for their youth at age sixteen. During the time, Amish youth are allowed to live outside the bounds of their faith, experimenting with alcohol, premarital sex, revealing clothes, telephones, drugs, and wild parties. By allowing such broad freedoms, their parents hope they will learn enough to help them make the most important decision of their lives, whether to be baptized as Christians, join the church and forever give up worldly ways or to remain in the world. - Amazon

Schmidt, Monique Marie. Last Moon Dancing. 2005. (10 copies)
Amidst the pulse of voodoo drums, the gift of a dinner rat, chants of machete wielding students, and choking heat inside a mosquito net, Kansas author Monique Maria Schmidt gives us this searingly honest account of two years of real life as a young Peace Corps Volunteer.  She lives alone, the only white teacher, struggling to find her place in a French-speaking West African village. – cover jacket

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. 2010. (10 copies)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of - Publisher

Sobel, Dava. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Lifetime. 1996. (10 copies)
In 1714, England's Parliament offered a reward to anyone whose method or device for measuring longitude proved successful. John Harrison imagined a clock that would withstand pitch and roll, temperature and humidity, and keep precise time at sea--something no clock had been able to do on land. This is the story of Harrison's 40-year effort to build his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. – Barnes and Noble

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. 1992. (10 copies)
This is Spiegelman’s compelling telling of his father Vladek’s life story, that of a middle-class Polish Jew who survived the Nazi death camps. The first six chapters employ a simple, chillingly effective iconography: Jews have the faces of mice; the Nazis, those of cats. – Booklist Review

Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. 1998. (10 copies)
When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary put out a call during the late 19th century pleading for "men of letters" to provide help with their mammoth undertaking, hundreds of responses came forth. Some helpers, like Dr. W.C. Minor, provided literally thousands of entries to the editors. But Minor, an American expatriate in England and a Civil War veteran, was actually a certified lunatic who turned in his dictionary entries from the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. – Amazon

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