NEW! Hold your own book discussion group with our Book Discussion Kits.
The Irondequoit Public Library hosts two book discussion groups:
The Contemporary Book Discussion Group meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM and the second Thursday at 3:00 PM at the Helen McGraw Branch (2180 E. Ridge Road). Attend whichever session is most convenient. New members always welcome!
The Classic Book Discussion Group meets on the last Thursday of each month at 3:00 PM at the Pauline Evans Branch (45 Cooper Road). Check out our upcoming titles below.
Book copies are available at both the Pauline Evans and Helen McGraw Branches
2013 Titles for the Contemporary Book Discussion Group
This book traces the author’s adventurous trek along the Appalachian Trail past its natural pleasures, human eccentrics, and offbeat comforts.
In a first work of history by a best-selling conservative author and talk-show host, a riveting narrative describes the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
In a novel that moves back and forth between the Soviet Union during World War II and modern-dayAmerica, Marina, an elderly Russian woman, recalls vivid images of her youth during the height of the siege of Leningrad.
A strange relationship blossoms between a brilliant math professor suffering from short-term memory problems following a traumatic head injury and the young housekeeper, the mother of a ten-year-old son, hired to care for him, in an enchanting novel that explores what it means to live in the present and to be part of a family, albeit an unusual one.
The child of a scholarly, alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family’s nomadic upbringing–from the Arizona desert to Las Vegas to Appalachia–during which her siblings and she fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.
In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the “cat’s table”–as far from the Captain’s Table as can be–with a ragtag group of “insignificant” adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury.
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. When a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: his fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. As the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own– between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.
Losing her father in a school fire that disfigures her face, Sicily is raised by a dynamic aunt who urges her to pursue a normal life, an effort that is influenced by her fiance, a terrible drunken revelation and an opportunity for a risky full-face transplant.
Oskar Schell, the nine-year-old son of a man killed in the World Trade Center attacks, searches the five boroughs of New York City for a lock that fits a black key his father left behind.
Forced to leave Shanghai when their father sells them to California suitors, sisters May and Pearl struggle to adapt to life in 1930s Los Angeles while still bound to old customs, as they face discrimination and confront a life-altering secret.
Lacey Yeager takes New York City’s art world by storm, charming men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness and experiencing the highs and lows of the art world from the late 1990s into the present day.
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.
Thursday, January 31 at 3pm: Bleak House (first half) by Charles Dickens
Thursday, February 28 at 3pm: Bleak House (second half) by Charles Dickens
Thursday, March 28 at 3pm: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Ann Bronte
Thursday, April 25 at 3pm: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Thursday May 30 at 3pm: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Thursday, June 27 at 3pm: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Thursday, July 25 at 3pm: Brothers Karamazov (first half) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Thursday, August 29 at 3pm: Brothers Karamazov (second half) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Thursday, September 26 at 3pm: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Thursday, October 31 at 3pm: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Thursday. November 21 at 3pm: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
*No meeting in December
Past Book Discussion Group Choices
The Confession by John Grisham
Travis Boyette has been paroled from prison in Kansas and he suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. Travis approaches a local minister, Keith Schroeder, with his dilemma. Nine years earlier, Travis raped and killed a cheerleader in Texas, burying her body which hasn’t ever been found. The state of Texas, though, convicted a football player, Donte Drumm, of the girl’s murder and he’s about to be executed.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is set in Gilead,Iowa in 1956 with the minister, John Ames, facing death from heart disease. He has a young wife and son whom he loves deeply and decides to leave his son a family history.
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough
Relates the story of the American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris in the nineteenth century, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned there.
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Twelve year-old Ren lives in an orphanage, left on their doorstep as an infant. He’s also missing his left hand and doesn’t know what might have happened to it in his past. Ren is one of those children who never expects to be adopted, but a man named Benjamin Nab shows up to claim him one day, saying he’s Ren’s long-lost brother.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley
Ptolemy Grey is a 91-year-old man, suffering from dementia and living as a recluse in his Los Angeles apartment. Then Robyn Small, a 17-year-old family friend, appears and helps clean up his apartment and straighten out his life. A reinvigorated Ptolemy volunteers for an experimental medical program that restores his mind, and he uses his last days–shortened now by the medical experiment–to delve into the mystery of the recent drive-by shooting death of his great-nephew, Reggie.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
On the sixtieth anniversary of the 1942 roundup of Jews by the French police in the Vel d’Hiv section of Paris, American journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article on this dark episode during World War II and embarks on an investigation that leads her to long-hidden family secrets and to the ordeal of Sarah, a young girl caught up in the raid.
Jericho’s Fall by Stephen L. Carter
Jericho’s Fall finds Jericho Ainsley, ex-director of the CIA and Wall Street power broker, dying from cancer at his Colorado retreat. His dying request is to have a visit from Rebecca “Beck” DeForde, a young woman he a torrid affair with fifteen years earlier.
The Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Parents want to do what’s best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence.
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
Hoping to honor his father and the family business with innovative glass designs, Louis Comfort Tiffany launches the iconic Tiffany lamp as designed by women’s divisions head Clara Driscoll, who struggles with the mass production of her creations and grieves the losses of two husbands.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. A contemporary classic that depict the struggles of a United States airman attempting to survive the lunacy and depravity of a World War II airbase.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. A passionate woman escapes the restrictions and boredom of her marriage through a love affair with a charming soldier, in this classic nineteenth-century Russian novel.
The Trial by Franz Kafka. Narrates the experiences and reactions of a respectable bank functionary after his abrupt arrest on an undisclosed charge.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The classic horror story!
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. A portrait of American manners and morals at the turn of the century offers the saga of Lily Bart, a beautiful heroine who lacks one important requirement for marrying well in New York society, her own money.
Given Day by Dennis Lehane. An epic tale set at the end of World War I follows the experiences of a family whose lives mirror the political unrest of an America caught between its well-patterned past and an unpredictable future.
Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich. Unaware of a violent event that marked the beginning of her mixed ancestry, ambitious young Evelina Harp, a part-Ojibwe, part-white girl prone to falling hopelessly in love, learns disturbing truths from her gifted storyteller grandfather, while a sentimental judge weighs the legacy of a century-old crime as reflected by his own love life.
The Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez. An employee at the Kabul Beauty School describes the lives of women in the patriarchal society of Afghanistan from the perspective of the school and its students, offering profiles of such women as a newlywed who must fake her own virginity, a child bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, and the wife of a Taliban member who pursues her training despite her husband’s abuse.
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. The second volume of the MaddAddam triology, this book is set in the future where a waterless flood has occurred, changing the face of the Earth.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. A Pulitzer Prize winning collection of nine short stories that blend elements of Indian traditions with the complexities of American culture in such tales as “A Temporary Matter,” in which a young Indian-American couple confronts their grief over the loss of a child, while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout.
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. While on leave from the Army, John Tyree meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah Curtis. As they try to plan a future together, 9/11 occurs and John is torn between his desire to serve his country and be with the girl he loves.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Robinson Crusoe narrates his sad tale: a storm sunk his boat, drowned his friends, and left him alone on an island.
The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith. Isabel Dalhousie, a Scottish philosopher, deals with an old enemy, Minty, and becomes engaged to Jamie. Full of Isabel’s philosophical deliberations!
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. A Sherlock Holmes murder mystery involving a ghostly black dog.
The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft. An early work of feminist philosophy that promotes women’s rights and education.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. The story of Harrison William Shepherd, an American who grows up in the United States and Mexico in the 1930′s and sees both nations’ identities developing.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova. The moving narrative of an Alzheimer’s patient.
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington. The autobiography of a famous educator and powerful orator who was born into slavery.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. A candid exploration of Chicago’s meatpacking industry in the 1900′s.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. A satire from the viewpoint of Lemuel Gulliver’an Englishman who meets giants, speaking horses, and monsters during his sea-faring voyages.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. A varied collection of stories set in a small Maine town, linked together by Olive Kitteridge, the wife of the town pharmacist.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel. A young man from India is shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger and other zoo creatures.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. One of Twain’s famous satirical pieces from the point of view of Huckleberry Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This novel chronicles the lives of seven generations of the Buend’a Family living in the fictional town of Macondo in Columbia.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Stockett’s novel is set during the 1960′s in Jackson, Mississippi and is told from the perspective of three characters: Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson, and Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Set against the background of World War I, Lieutenant Frederic Henry narrates his experiences of war and his romance with a British nurse.
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. The book tells the story of a poor farmer named Wang Lung in the 1800′s in China.
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Along with his friends, Mack wants to plan a party for his friend Doc. Soon, everybody becomes involved.
Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo. How much do you know about the life of Harry Truman? Did you know that Harry Truman took a road trip with his wife after leaving the Presidency with no Secret Service? If you would like an enjoyable book to read about the Truman’s, try reading Matthew Algeo’s book and get set for an adventure!
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bojhalian. Set in a small town in Germany during World War II, Chris Bojhalian writes a novel that will surely be a page turner for most readers. Bojhalian’s development of characters is fascinating; he intertwines all of their lives and the ending will surely surprise you!
March by Geraldine Brooks. Set during the Civil War, Geraldine Brooks writes a story about the father in Little Women. If you liked Little Women, you may be interested in reading this selection. Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. A Latin American birthday party is interrupted by a group of terrorists that holds the party hostage for a long period of time. As the story unfolds, we discover that the birthday guests are from all over the world. One guest in particular is an opera singer that seems to hold the group together through her music. Even if you’re not an opera buff, you will enjoy reading Ann Patchett’s book.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. Malcolm X, a powerful figure in American history, shares his life experiences with Alex Haley. This is a book that is important to read; it will challenge your belief system about race relations.
Seneca Falls Inheritance by Miriam Grace Monfredo. Written by local author Miriam Grace Monfredo, enjoy reading a mystery about one of our neighboring New York towns. Monfredo nicely weaves some of the history of the Women’s Rights Movement and a mystery that the town librarian gets involved in.
Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Ellen Hopkin’s first book based on the story of her daughter’s addiction to crank. A powerful book for parents, teens, and all adults to read.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A German family hides a Jewish man during the rise of the Nazi’s in World War II. You will have to read this book to find out why this book is titled, “The Book Thief.”
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Popular author Barbara Kingsolver and her family decide to move from their home in Tucson, Arizona and begin a new life in North Carolina. They make a commitment to grow all of their own food for one year with no exceptions. Read about the ups and downs of the Kingsolver’s journey in local farming.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. An inspirational book that will touch your heart and warm your soul. Randy Pausch’s vignettes of stories and memories will stay with us forever.
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Changed the World by Vicki Myron. If you love cats and libraries, you have probably read this book! This is a wonderful story how a library-owned cat changed the town and united it’s patrons.
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. Travel to Newfoundland and explore the fishing world and small town life with a journalist, his aunt, and his two children. Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel.
Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert. Enjoy reading this memorable tribute to Tim Russert’s dad. The stories of Buffalo and the surrounding areas are interesting too. Tim Russert was a fine man and journalist. We all miss him and his famous “Go Bills!” at the conclusion of Meet the Press.
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Since 1996, American Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life in building schools in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Read his story on how he made this happen in two volatile countries in the Middle East.
Now is the Time to Open Your Heart by Toni Morrison. Morrison’s character Kate Nelson, embarks on a spiritual journey of self discovery by going to the wilds of the Amazon. Her partner stays behind ends up on a path of self discovery of his own. This book has a new age style that is very unique.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. A true story, zookeepers in Warsaw, Poland hide Jews among their zoo animals during World War II. If you have never read a book on how the Nazi’s affected Poland, you will want to read this one.
The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family by Martha Raddatz. American journalist Martha Raddatz, chronicles the days of battle within Sadr City, Iraq. Raddatz painfully describes the urban warfare that took place and the after affects on the families left behind in the United States. A must read for every American who cares about what our troops and what Iraqi civilians are going through.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. English author Ian McEwan, captivates his readers with his love story about two virgins on their wedding night. Set in England in the 1960s, the book will leave you wanting more information about the two lovers.
Beloved by Toni Morrison. Do ghosts really exist? Set in the post Civil War, Toni Morrison’s compelling novel is about a woman and her daughter who wrestle with a ghost from the past who haunts their present lives.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. One of Cormac McCarthy’s finest novels, The Road is bound to make readers think about the end times…if there is one. The relationship that McCarthy develops between a father and his son is both powerful and memorable.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Enjoy reading this story of a Greek immigrant family with their trials and tribulations in the United States. Filled with humor, tears, and challenges, Eugenides beautifully writes this story which is bound to entertain all you.
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore. Al Gore’s passion for the planet is incredibly detailed in his book, An Inconvenient Truth. Even if you have seen the film, the book is a great companion to the movie. The book is filled with wonderful graphics to aid in the layperson’s understanding of global warming.
The Double Bind by Chris Bojalian. Enter the world of a homeless man and a photographer. Find out the mystery and suspense that surrounds the existence of some old photographs that were left behind by the homeless person. A book surely to entertain!
Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Sixteen year-old Steve Harmon records his life in prison as he awaits his trial as an accomplice to murder. Walter Dean Myers (known as a young adult author) is popular with adult audiences as well.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Follow the love triangle of three people over the span of a fifty year period. Colombian writer Gabriel Marquez writes with humor and expression writes this poignant story set in the country of Colombia.
The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. Los Angeles Times Reporter J.R. Moehringer writes his memoir about growing up in a neighborhood bar in Massachusetts. This story will surely entertain readers young and old.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. This novel set in Chile and in San Francisco, depicts the challenging life of Eliza Sommers. Known as one of Isabel Allende’s best novels, Daughter of Fortune is definitely an excellent read.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Whether you have read this classic or not, it is a book that one must read! Questions of love, morality, wealth, and friendship are explored in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American novel.
Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman. Famed Southwestern writer Tony Hillerman’s novel Coyote Waits takes place in New Mexico with Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, trying to discover who murdered fellow Navajo police officer Delbert Nez.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Weapons and good-luck charms carried by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam here represent survival, lost innocence and the war’s interminable legacy.
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. To say that Augusten Burroughs had an unusual childhood would be an understatement. His eccentric mother — a poet — left him in the care of her shrink, a man who might have benefited from a little therapy himself. Somehow, Augusten survived, and the result is this memoir, one both horrifying and hysterical.
The Interruption of Everything by Terry McMillan. To say that 45-year-old Marilyn Grimes is suffering from a midlife crisis is to understate. Her three children have left the nest; her boring engineer husband, Leon, is in career crisis and apparently philandering; her mother may be developing Alzheimer’s; and Marilyn herself is searching for new frontiers or a place to leap. By turns, hilarious and heartbreaking; Terry McMillan in vintage form.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. During the summer of 1964 in rural South Carolina, a young girl is given a home by three black beekeeping sisters. As she enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, she discovers a place where she can find the single thing her heart longs for most.
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier. Sidney Poitier, one of America’s finest actors, details his life experiences in his latest autobiography. This book was selected in honor of African American History month.
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. Haven Kimmel writes a fun and snappy memoir about her life in the small town of Mooreland, Indiana.
The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian. An African American child lives with a grieving couple in Vermont as they begin to heal from the death of their daughters. How will this small child affect the couple that he is living with? There are many twists and turns in this novel that will keep you turning the pages.
My Antonia by Willa Cather. A classic by Willa Cather, My Antonia is a must read for every person who appreciates fine literature. Ms. Cather’s gift of writing is evident as she develops each character throughout the story. Find out who Antonia is by reading this work of art.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. If you have ever known a child with a serious illness this may be the book you will want to read or won’t want to read. Discover why My Sister’s Keeper, was a best seller in the United States. You will either love it or hate it. No matter what your feelings are you will want to read every page.
Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. Written by Latin American author Sandra Cisneros, this novel is actually based in part on Ms. Cisnero’s life and experiences. The audio version of the book is fabulous! Cisneros incorporates English and Spanish throughout the novel making the scenes come alive with humor and drama.
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. A little Cherokee girl named ‘Turtle’ is adopted by a white woman in the Southwest. This novel illustrates quite a bit of the Cherokee culture and also the experience of a white woman having an adoptive Native American child. Turtle’s mother soon finds herself (and Turtle) running from away from the Cherokee Nation as she discovers Turtle’s adoption was illegal.
Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. This is a true story about a little Chinese girl that experienced a horrific childhood. Adeline’s love of books as a child helped her to become the doctor and author that she is today. Read this riveting account of how one little girl rose above her childhood to find happiness outside of her family.
Reading Lolita from Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Born and raised in Iran Nafisi’s memoir details her life in Tehran from 1979-1997, as an English professor. A woman far ahead of her time, Nafisi broke many cultural mores while trying to empower other Iranian women.
Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. Social critic goes “undercover” as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.
The Girls by Lori Lansens. Conjoined twins who know they will soon die set out to record their story.