Book Club in a Bag
Book Club in a Bag is service for your existing book club.
Each Book Club in a Bag kit comes with eight copies of a particular title, discussion questions, and tips for hosting an enjoyable book discussion. Click on the Titles tab to see our Book Club in a Bag kits available.
Please give one to two weeks advance notice so that we can make sure your book club can have any Book Club in a Bag kit you choose.
Below are book club reading suggestions.
Updated April 2014
If you want to request other titles, please call Cheryl, 968-8166 x504.
Life After Life
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula's world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization -- if only she has the chance?
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The Good Lord Birds (available mid-August)
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline breaks new ground and delivers the story of a soldier who discovers what it means to be a man, a father, and ultimately, a hero.
Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a North Michigan Farm
Mardi Jo Link
When Mardi Jo Link finds herself a newly single mother after nineteen years of marriage, she makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to stay in her century old-farmhouse and continue raising her three boys on well-water, chopping wood, and dirt. Armed with an unflagging sense of humor and a relentless optimism that would put Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to shame, Link and her resolute accomplices struggle through one long, hard year of blizzards, foxes, bargain cooking, rampaging poultry, a zucchini-growing contest, and other challenges.
Reno, so-called because of the place of her birth, comes to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity—artists colonize a deserted and industrial SoHo, stage actions in the East Village, blur the line between life and art. Reno is submitted to a sentimental education of sorts—by dreamers, poseurs, and raconteurs in New York and by radicals in Italy, where she goes with her lover to meet his estranged and formidable family. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, Reno is a fiercely memorable observer, superbly realized by Rachel Kushner.
Annie's Ghost: A Journey into a Family Secret
Throughout her life, Luxenberg’s mother, Beth, reveled in her status as an only child. Then, a few years before her death in 1999—and utterly out of the blue—she admitted to having a mentally and physically disabled younger sister named Annie, who died in 1972. Beth’s failing health precluded Luxenberg and his siblings from learning any more. After Beth’s passing, Luxenberg set out in search of answers. His dual roles as reporter and son proved both blessing and curse; the journalist dug furiously for facts, while the son wondered if long-buried secrets were best kept that way. His questions were many: What prompted Annie’s commitment, at age 21, to Eloise Hospital, southeastern Michigan’s sprawling psychiatric facility? Why was there next to no record of her early years? Most baffling of all, why did Beth, two years Annie’s senior, refuse for so long to acknowledge her sibling’s existence? Armed with superb investigative skills and relentless determination, Washington Post senior editor Luxenberg tracked down remaining family and friends and interviewed an exhaustive list of experts who might shed light on Annie’s plight. Part memoir, part mystery, part history of the mental-health movement, Annie’s Ghosts is a fascinating account of a life lived in the shadows and a family beset by despair.
Dublin, 1845 and ’46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause—despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave.
New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.
Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
A powerful and unforgettable tale of the violence lurking at the heart of the world, Richard Ford’s Canada will resonate long and loud for readers of stark and sweeping novels of American life, from the novels of Cheever and Carver to the works of Philip Roth, Charles Frazier, Richard Russo, and Jonathan Franzen.
Heading Out to Wonderful
It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting, heart-stopping novel of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.
Calling Me Home
In Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler, eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive Isabelle from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.
Franny and Zooey [published in 1961]
Franny Glass is a pretty, effervescent college student on a date with her intellectually confident boyfriend, Lane. They appear to be the perfect couple, but as they struggle to communicate with each other about the things they really care about, slowly their true feelings come to the surface. The second story in this book, 'Zooey', plunges us into the world of her ethereal, sophisticated family. When Frannys emotional and spiritual doubts reach new heights, her older brother Zooey, a misanthropic former child genius, offers her consolation and brotherly advice. Written in Salingers typically irreverent style, these two stories offer a touching snapshot of the distraught mindset of early adulthood and are full of the insightful emotional observations and witty turns of phrase that have helped make Salinger's reputation what it is.
The Pieces We Keep
Two narratives, one concerning Nazi spies and the other a troubled boy in contemporary Oregon, begin to converge at the halfway point in this novel of espionage, reincarnation and doomed romance. For the first 100 pages, there is little to connect the two stories, told in alternating chapters. Recently widowed veterinarian Audra is coping with her 7-year-old son's increasingly erratic behavior. Audra hopes moving cross-country will distance them from the pain of her husband's death. The other story concerns Vivian, an American diplomat's daughter, living in London on the eve of World War II. The independent Vivian is conducting an illicit affair with Issak, an American of Swiss descent, who is at university in London. As war becomes inevitable, Issak begs Vivian for help in relocating his family from Germany to Switzerland (he confesses to a lot of holes in his life story: His family is actually German, where they returned after his childhood in America; they've been forced by the Nazis to cooperate) by getting information from her father's intel reports. Vivian is suspicious, but her love for Issak outweighs concerns for international security. As it happens, Vivian is sent back to America, and Issak, who promised to accompany her, is stuck in Germany trying to help his family. Back in Portland, Audra has read a book on the effects of reincarnation on children. The whole thing seems crazy to her, but then the details (Jack's drawings of Nazis in electric chairs, his obsession with flying, his mumblings in what seem to be German) build a compelling case to a mother at wit's end. When Audra shares her theories with Jack's paternal grandparents, they sue her for custody of Jack. Audra feels that her only hope is to research the German name she has, with the help of wounded veteran Sean Malloy, a man Jack is inexplicably drawn to and, unbeknownst to everyone, Vivian's grandson. Back in the States, Vivian works on a military base as a telephone operator, where she begins a romance with charming military intelligence officer Gene Sullivan. But then one day, Issak contacts her. He is in New York, sent by the Nazis as the head of a secret force sent to invade America. And he asks her to risk everything and trust him again.