Book Discussions Led by Stacey

 

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Fiction | Nonfiction

 

FICTION

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 

In this witty, timeless comedy of manners, the charming Bennet sisters seek the perfect husband. A sprightly commentary on society and marriage in Regency England. The One Book, One Batavia 2013 selection.

(Classic; Romance)

  


  

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

 

When Charles Baxter wanders to a park during a sleepless night, he encounters a neighbor who tells him the first of several tales of love that interweave to create this luminous novel.

(Literary Fiction)

    

 

 

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

 

As a child, Rose discovers she can taste the emotions of the person who cooked the food she eats—which often discloses people’s secrets. She narrates this story about her unusual family and their unexpected talents. This lyrical novel, infused with magical realism, captures the sweet and sour flavor of family life.

(Literary Fiction; Magical Realism)

 

 

 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

 

When the queen of England discovers the delights of reading books, her advisers worry—and with good cause: her ideas and behavior are changing… dramatically. This novel is a paean to the joys of reading.

(General Fiction)

  


 

Kindred by Octavia Butler

 

Dana, a 26-year-old African-American woman living in the 1970s, is transported back to the antebellum South, where she experiences life in slavery. While she is able to return to her real life in 1976, periodically she is called back to the past to protect the young man who will become her own ancestor. A thought-provoking novel by an author who was awarded a Macarthur “genius” grant.

(Time Travel)

 

 

  

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

 

When the Sisters brothers—professional hit men in the old West—agree to do “one last job,” things go horribly awry. Funny and irreverent and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. (How often does that happen with a Western?)

(Western; Mystery; Noir; Historical Fiction)

 

 

   

Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr

 

In this lyrical novel, a retired American couple moves to a Mexican village to re-open an old copper mine. This quiet, character-driven story brings to life many of the town’s residents, who are perplexed by the strange ways of their new neighbors.

(Literary Fiction)

   

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle 

In this classic mystery, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson take a case involving a mysterious death and a terrible family legend about a ghostly hound on the menacing moor. The One Book, One Batavia 2016 selection.

(Mystery; Classic)

 

LaRose by Louise Erdrich 

A somber, lyrical novel about a man who honors his family’s Ojibwe traditions by giving his young son to his neighbors after accidentally killing their child in a hunting accident. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction.

(Literary Fiction; Complex)

 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

In this poignant and complex story, a precocious 9-year-old boy narrates his quest to find the lock for a key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center attack.

(Literary Fiction; Bittersweet; Quirky; Multiple Narrators)

 

 

Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

 

After years of estrangement, Noah visits his stoic father, a shipwreck survivor, near the end of his life. A somber, hushed story of a father and son, set on Minnesota’s north shore.

(Literary Fiction)

     

 

 

Disobedience by Jane Hamilton

 

Narrated with pitch-perfect sarcasm and sadness by the teenage son who discovers his mother’s affair, this is the absorbing, bittersweet story of a family silently ruptured by infidelity—even as the pre-teen daughter and her father joyfully pursue their passion for Civil War reenactment.

(Literary Fiction)

    

 

 

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

 

In this subdued, introspective novel, Stevens—the consummate butler for all his adult life—embarks on a rare vacation. During his drive, he finds himself reflecting on his many years of unfailing service to Lord Darlington – and wondering at his own ability look past the terrible truth about the man he served.

(Literary Fiction)

    

 

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 

The very strange Blackwoods—18-year-old Mary Katherine (who narrates the story), her sister Constance, and their uncle Julian—live in seclusion in their family mansion, scorned by the townspeople who fear them following a horrific event. A creepy contemporary classic.

(Classic; Psychological Suspense)

 

 

 

The Report by Jessica Francis Kane

 

A quietly dramatic novel that imagines the cause of a real-life disaster in London, in which people were crushed and killed while trying to enter a Tube station for safety during the Blitz. Sad and thought-provoking.

(Historical Fiction)

 

 

 

The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

 

In this compassionate, witty novel, Langston abandons graduate school and returns to her small Midwestern town, where she meets the unusual new minister and two troubled, orphaned girls.

(General Fiction)

 

 

 

Folly by Laurie R. King

 

Rae, a woman who has suffered personal tragedy and teetered on the brink of mental instability, moves to a remote island to restore a peculiar, ruined house she inherited from her great-uncle. Rae believes she is alone on the island, but increasingly she feels as if she is being watched. As odd, menacing incidents begin to take place, she wonders if the danger is real or if it is only her imagination. A smart, intriguing, psychological novel.

(Psychological Suspense)

 

 

 

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

 

Three men, who were childhood friends until a terrible event ruptured their lives, live on the south side of Boston where they grew up. When one man's daughter is murdered, his old friend, now a police detective, is assigned to the case and must investigate their other childhood friend. A bleak, suspenseful psychological thriller by an award-winning mystery author.

(Psychological Suspense)

 

 

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

 

Each person who visits Claudia Hampton at her deathbed reveals another aspect of this flawed, yet fascinating, woman’s life. This quiet, nostalgic Booker Prize winner raises questions about the complexity of human relationships and memory.

(Literary Fiction)

 

 

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

 

This Newbery Medal-winning novel initially appears to depict an ideal futuristic society. Then twelve-year-old Jonas receives his life’s assignment as the Receiver of Memory. His daily meetings with the Giver, who conveys memories of life before the establishment of their regimented society, gradually lead Jonas to question their way of life. A thought-provoking novel about freedom, community, family, and love. The One Book, One Batavia 2006 selection.

(Children’s Fiction; Dystopian Fiction)

 

 

 

She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb

 

A haunting, homespun, literary mystery set on the lovingly evoked Appalachian Trail, where modern-day travelers encounter the ghost of a young woman who was kidnapped in 1779.

(Mystery)

 

 

 

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

 

In this spellbinding novel, a woman is torn between her love for her husband and a growing obsession with a man who reappears many years after she knew him during a secret phase in her past.

(General Fiction)

 

 

 

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

 

In this complex, inventive, and surprising novel, the characters’ identities change with every twist of the plot.

(Literary Fiction)

 

 

 

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien

 

Did he kill her, or didn’t he? In this complex, layered, disturbing novel, a politician and his wife escape to the woods to recover, after a horrific secret from his past is uncovered. A master magician who had managed to make his past vanish, he is suspected of murder when his wife disappears.

(Literary Fiction; Psychological Suspense)

 

 

 

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

 

When Octavia learns that her estranged son has been arrested for murder, she abandons the manuscript of her latest book to reconcile with him. Their story is interspersed with fragments of Octavia’s books, with both their original and revised endings. Complex, layered, and emotionally charged.

(Literary Fiction)

 

 

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

 

This lyrical, award-winning novel features an international cast of well-drawn characters and a riveting plot. When guerrillas take hostages at an embassy party in an unnamed South American country, the following months of captivity result in some surprising relationships.

(Literary Fiction)

 

 

 

True Grit: A Novel  by Charles Portis

 

In this rip-roaring adventure story, a no-nonsense teenage girl hires a tough U.S. marshal to help avenge the death of her father. Even if you don’t like Westerns, this novel’s sparkling, wry humor and engaging dialogue just might win you over.

(Western; Historical Fiction; Plainspoken; Unsentimental; Suspenseful)  

    

 

 

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

 

Meghan Fitzmaurice is the successful host of a morning talk show, who seems to have it all—until she makes a terrible gaffe on national television. Her sister Bridget narrates this witty tale of two flawed sisters undergoing dramatic personal changes.

(General Fiction)

 

 

 

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

 

Many of us have learned about the Civil War through history books, but this heroic and character-driven novel presents the Battle of Gettysburg through the compelling personalities of the men who fought there. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The One Book, One Batavia 2009 selection.

(Historical Fiction)

 

 

 

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields

 

Larry Weller is an ordinary guy whose life, to his surprise, twists and turns like the garden mazes he designs. In this quietly triumphant novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields gives us a sympathetic portrait of a Baby Boomer adjusting to society’s changing expectations of men.

(General Fiction)

 

 

 

Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve

 

A gripping novel about a woman who escapes her abusive husband and arrives in a small coastal town in Maine, along with her infant daughter. Just as she begins to make a new life for herself, she is forced to make a terrible choice.

(Psychological Suspsense)

 

 

 

An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg

 

A heartbreaking, yet heartwarming, novel about family and courage. When a young widow seeks refuge in her Wyoming hometown, the welcome she receives from her father-in-law Einar is decidedly cold. Meanwhile, her young daughter becomes fast friends with Einar’s old friend, a man wounded by a bear attack. This novel’s seemingly simple prose brings the characters to life.

(General Fiction)

 

 

 

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

 

In this suspenseful and intricately plotted novel, sixth grader Miranda finds herself in the midst of a mysterious situation involving secret notes and time travel. The 2010 Newbery Medal winner. Not just for kids.

(Children’s Fiction; Time Travel)

 

 

 

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

 

Through a warmly humorous, yet sad, story that alternates between the near future and the 14th century’s outbreak of the bubonic plague, Willis weaves the importance of human relationships and the successes and limitations of science. This time travel novel won all three major science fiction awards (Hugo, Nebula, and Locus). The One Book, One Batavia 2008 selection.

(Time Travel)

 

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NONFICTION

 

 

The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen

 

When Will Allen developed an urban farm in Milwaukee, he addressed several issues in one fell swoop: the urban food desert, public health, racism, and unemployment. Inspiring and informative. The One Book, One Batavia 2014 selection.

(Memoir)

 

 

 

Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom

 

In this inspiring, heartfelt memoir, a young Ethiopian-Eritrean man describes his family’s arrival in the United States as refugees, their struggles to adjust to a new life in Wheaton, IL, and his own motivation to succeed that led to his graduation from Harvard. The One Book, One Batavia 2004 selection.

(Memoir)

 

 

 

Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry selected by Billy Collins

 

During his tenure as Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins selected these short, clear poems for a project called Poetry 180, in which poems could be read aloud at high schools—just for the joy of hearing a poem each day. The One Book, One Batavia 2011 selection.

(Poetry)

 

 

 

Hiroshima by John Hersey

 

This understated, yet devastating, nonfiction account by journalist John Hersey tells the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

(History)

 

 

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope by Wendy Holden

 

A moving book that tells the compelling true story of three women who hid their pregnancies, gave birth in a Nazi concentration camp, and survived along with their infants. 

(Nonfiction; History; Intense; Haunting; Descriptive)

 

   

 

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing up in the Other America by Alex Kotlowitz

 

This bleak, powerful, true story describes two years in the lives of two boys growing up in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, where they live amidst poverty and violence. The One Book, One Batavia 2007 selection.

(Society)

 

 

 

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson

 

The exciting, fast-moving, true adventure story of scuba divers’ 1991 discovery of a sunken German submarine off the New Jersey coast, and the years they spent unraveling the unidentified U-boat’s mysteries.

(True Adventure)

 

 

 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

 

This engrossing book interweaves the fascinating story of the building of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with the creepy true tale of serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes. The story alternates between the architects’ challenges and the murderer’s plotting, and the suspense builds…

(True Crime; History)

 

 

 

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

 

Written in 1955, this classic account of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, remains one of the most popular books about the disaster. Walter Lord’s clear, concise storytelling allows present-day readers to feel the immediacy of the events of that terrible night 100 years ago. The One Book, One Batavia 2012 selection.

(History)

 

 

 

Playing with the Enemy by Gary W. Moore

 

As a teenager, Gene Moore was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers—but World War II interrupted his plans. In this heartfelt true story, Gary Moore describes his father’s unique experience in the Navy, playing baseball and guarding secret German prisoners, as well the challenges he faced during the war’s aftermath. The One Book, One Batavia 2010 selection.

(History; Sports)

 

 

 

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

 

While the basic story of the Pilgrims is widely known, the events of the five decades after their arrival at Plymouth are surprisingly unfamiliar, fascinating, and relevant today. In vivid detail, Nathaniel Philbrick brings to life the legendary and less well-known Pilgrims and Native Americans who forged a relationship that eventually was destroyed by war.

(History)

 

 

 

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez: An Autobiography by Richard Rodriguez

 

In this memoir of his school years, Rodriguez writes beautifully, movingly, and provocatively about his love of learning, the loneliness of achieving an educational level far beyond that of his immigrant parents, and his perceptions of speaking English at school and Spanish at home.

(Memoir)

 

 

 

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

 

This riveting account of the search for John Wilkes Booth is unexpectedly suspenseful, given that we know the outcome of the chase. Swanson’s detailed narrative puts the reader on the scene, amidst the killers, conspirators, cavalry, and detectives. The One Book, One Batavia 2015 selection.

(True Crime; History)

 

 

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