Book Club in a Bag

Book Club in a Bag

Everything you need for your book club

The Book Club in a Bag is a book discussion kit including at least 5 copies of a title with an author bio, a reading guide and other information about the book. Kits may be borrowed for six (6) weeks to allow time to read, discuss and return the material. The Book Club in a Bag program is sponsored by the Friends of the Westland Public Library.

Where do I get it?

You can borrow Book Club in a Bag kits by asking at the Reference Desk. A list of titles and their descriptions is detailed below. You can find out if a "Book Club in a Bag" is checked in by searching our online catalog.

How does it work?

Choose a title from the list and ask for it at the Reference Desk. The entire kit - bag, discussion material, copies of the book - will be checked out to one cardholder, who is responsible for all contents of the kit and for any material fees incurred. All materials must be returned to the library together - books may not be returned individually. Overdue Book Club in a Bag kits (including those returned incomplete) incur fines of $1.00 per day.

Available Titles

1984 - George Orwell

by George Orwell

"Orwell's strict attention to detail and realistic description of a world thirty-five years ahead of his own add validity to 1984, and make its larger conclusions all the more frightening. Even today, the novel remains a bleak and shadowy forewarning of what might someday occur." (from the reader's guide at Reading Group Guides)

Abundance - Naslund

Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette
by Sena Jeter Naslund

"In Naslund's sympathetic portrayal, 14-year-old "Toinette" arrives in France a pretty-mannered naïf determined to please the king, the court and, most importantly, her husband, the Dauphin. The novel provides a wealth of detail as Toinette savors the food, architecture, music and gardens of Versailles; indulges in hair and clothing rituals; gets acquainted with her indifferent partner and her scheming new relations; and experiences motherhood and loss." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho

"The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world . . . journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment." (from Publisher's Weekly)

All the pretty horses - Donald S. Passman

All the Pretty Horses
by Cormac McCarthy

"...the story of John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of west Texas ranchers. Upon his grandfather's death and his parents' divorce, the sixteen-year-old Cole finds himself landless, penniless, and possessed of skills that mean nothing... With his friend Lacey Rawlins, John Grady sets off for Mexico. They have no idea what they will find there..." (from the reader's guide at Random House)

Anansi boys - Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman

"Fat Charlie Nancy is not having a good week... Because, you see, Charlie has discovered that his dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi the trickster spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and even baffle the devil. No wonder Fat Charlie's life is about to be turned upside down." (from the reading guide at Reading Circle)

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel - Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

"A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it." (from the reading guide at HarperCollins)

Atonement - Ian McEwan

by Ian McEwan

"Briony Tallis, a precocious 13-year-old with an overactive imagination, witnesses an incident between Cecilia, her older sister, and Robbie Turner, son of the Tallis family's charwoman . . . Moving deftly between styles, this is a compelling exploration of guilt and the struggle for forgiveness. (from Library Journal)

The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie King

Beekeeper's Apprentice
by Laurie King

"When Mary Russell meets famous detective Sherlock Holmes, she discovers that he is also a beekeeper. Soon she finds herself on the trail of kidnappers and discovers a plot to kill both Holmes and herself." (from Novelist)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo

"A Mumbai slum offers rare insight into the lives and socioeconomic and political realities for some of the disadvantaged riding the coattails (or not) of India’s economic miracle in this deeply researched and brilliantly written account by New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Boo. Divided into four parts, the narrative brings vividly to the page life as it is led today in Annawadi, a squalid and overcrowded migrant settlement of some 3,000 people squatting since 1991 on a half-acre of land owned by the Sahar International Airport..."(from Publisher's Weekly)

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett

"In the vice president's mansion in an unnamed South American country, a lavish party is taking place... An American opera singer is entertaining... dignitaries and high-ranking officials from around the world, when suddenly... terrorists invade the mansion and set in motion a series of events that irrevocably alters the life of every person involved." (from the reading guide at HarperCollins)

Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell

"Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts - and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more." (from Publisher's Weekly; see also the reading guide at

The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

"Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different." (from Novelist)

Brave new world - Aldous Huxley

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

"...a horrifying, but often comic, vision of a future Utopia in which humans are processed, conditioned, regimented, and drugged into total social conformity..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

The Cartel - Ashley & Jaquavis

The Cartel
by Ashley & Jaquavis

"When Carter Diamon, the leader of The Cartel, which controls eighty percent of the cocaine industry, dies, his illegitimate son, Carter Jones, takes his place and starts sleeping with the enemy--Miamor, the leader of The Murder Mamas, who wants to take down The Cartel." (from Novelist)

City of Thieves - David Benioff

City of Thieves
by David Benioff

"Having elected to stay in Leningrad during the siege during WWII, 17-year-old Lev Beniov is caught looting a German paratrooper's corpse. The penalty for this infraction (and many others) is execution. But when Colonel Grechko confronts Lev and Kolya, a Russian army deserter also facing execution, he spares them on the condition that they acquire a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding cake." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Cold Sassy tree - Olive Ann Burns

Cold Sassy Tree
by Olive Ann Burns

"On July 5, 1906, Rucker Blakeslee announces that he intends to marry Miss Love Simpson, a hat-maker at his store who is years younger than he. This news shocks his family, since his wife Mattie Lou died only three weeks earlier..." (from the Sparknotes, which include study questions)

Confederates in the attic - Tony Horwitz

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
by Tony Horwitz

"Though the Civil War ended in 1865, it remains very much aflame in the hearts and minds of Americans, Southerners in particular... Horwitz embarks on a ten-state journey of discovery - personal, historical, and sociological - to understand why he and millions of other Americans obsess on the 1860s." (from the reading guide at Vintage)

Confessions of a pagan nun - by Kate Horsley

Confessions of a Pagan Nun
by Kate Horsley

(Note: This kit does not include discussion questions.)

"Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick... But disturbing events at the cloister keep intervening..." (from the publisher's comments)

Cry, the beloved country - Alan Paton

Cry, the Beloved Country
by Alan Paton

"The most famous and important novel in South Africa's history, and an immediate worldwide bestseller when it was published in 1948, Alan Paton's impassioned novel about a black man's country under white man's law is a work of searing beauty... the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident..." (from the reading guide at Simon and Schuster)

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time - Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

"Christopher John Francis Boone... is autistic... Routine, order, and predictability shelter him from the messy wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher's carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

Daughter of fortune - Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune
by Isabel Allende

"...Eliza is a stranger in California. Cloaking her identity - and her sex - she must carve out a new life for herself by whatever means possible. Like thousands of other newcomers... she is thrust into a melting pot of unfamiliar languages and customs. But Eliza and Tao Chi'en quickly learn the value of assimilation, gradually discarding their own suspicions and prejudices..." (from the reader's guide at HarperCollins)

The deep end of the ocean - Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Deep End of the Ocean
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

"The Deep End of the Ocean is a story about every parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. It is a story that is all too familiar to many of us, made frighteningly routine by the young faces emblazoned on milk cartons or steeped in pathos by Hollywood scriptwriters. In Jacquelyn Mitchard's deft hands, however, the story of the Cappadora family is neither routine nor cliched. It is chillingly and beautifully real." (from the reading guide at Penguin Group USA.)

Defending Jacob – William Landay

Defending Jacob
by William Landay

“… When Ben Rifkin, Jacob’s classmate, is found stabbed to death in the woods, Internet accusations and incontrovertible evidence point to big, handsome Jacob. Andy’s prosecutorial gut insists a child molester is the real killer, but as Jacob’s trial proceeds and Andy’s marriage crumbles under the forced revelation of old secrets, horror builds on horror toward a breathtakingly brutal outcome. “ (from the Publisher’s Weekly)

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - Cory Doctorow

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow

"Jules, a relative youngster at more than a century old, is a contented citizen of the Bitchun Society that has filled Earth and near-space since shortage and death were overcome. People are free to do whatever they wish, since the only wealth is respect and since constant internal interface lets all monitor exactly how successful they are at being liked. What Jules wants to do is move to Disney World, join the ad-hoc crew that runs the park and fine-tune the Haunted Mansion ride to make it even more wonderful." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert

"At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for 'balancing.'" (from The New Yorker)

Empire Falls - Richard Russo

Empire Falls
by Richard Russo

"Milo Roby tries to hold his family together while working at the Empire Grill in the once-successful logging town of Empire Falls, Maine, with his partner, Mrs. Whiting, who is the heir to a faded logging and textile legacy. (from Novelist)

Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel

Galileo's Daughter
by Dava Sobel

"In Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel tells the story of the famous scientist and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. Sobel bases her book on 124 surviving letters to the scientist from the nun, whom Galileo described as 'a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and tenderly attached to me.' Their loving correspondence revealed much about their world: the agonies of the bubonic plague, the hardships of monastic life, even Galileo's occasional forgetfulness." (from

Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls

"Walls remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family's downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them--and to himself." (from Booklist)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

"The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The heart is a lonely hunter - Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

"At the novel's center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who is left alone after his friend and roommate, Antonapoulos, is sent away to an asylum. Singer moves into a boarding house and begins taking his meals at the local diner, and in this new setting he becomes the confidant of several social outcasts and misfits..." (from the reading guide at Houghton Mifflin)

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

"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." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The human stain - Philip Roth

The Human Stain
by Philip Roth

"...The Human Stain chronicles the disgrace and downfall of Coleman Silk, an eminent classics professor at New England's small Athena College... a specious charge of racism is brought against him, and in the bitter fight that follows, his life begins to unravel...But Silk has another secret... more shocking than anything his enemies could have imagined about him..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

"When her beloved younger sister Prim is chosen as one of the “tributes,” Katniss volunteers to go in her sister’s place. Her fellow tribute from District 12 is Peeta, a boy with whom she soon develops a complicated relationship. After traveling to the Capital and undergoing elaborate training and preparation, Katniss and Peeta are launched into the game. In the terrifying events that follow, Katniss must marshal all her skills to stay alive and all her emotions to remain a caring human being in the face of the stark brutality of the Games." (from the reader's guide at Reading Group Guides)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

"Henrietta Lacks was a 31-year-old black mother of five in Baltimore when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her cervix for research. They spawned the first viable, indeed miraculously productive, cell line—known as HeLa. These cells have aided in medical discoveries from the polio vaccine to AIDS treatments. What Skloot so poignantly portrays is the devastating impact Henrietta’s death and the eventual importance of her cells had on her husband and children… " (from Publishers Weekly)

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences
by Truman Capote

"Herbert Clutter inspects his ranch on the morning of November 14, 1959. That same morning, on the other side of Kansas, Perry Smith meets up with Dick Hickock. While the Clutters go about their daily business, running errands and baking cherry pies, Hickock and Smith are tuning their car. After a long drive, they pull up to the Clutter home with a shotgun and knife in hand..." (from the Sparknotes, which include study questions)

In the fall - Jeffrey Lent

In the Fall
by Jeffrey Lent

"Though the community thinks it strange that a native son has returned with a mulatto wife, Norman and Leah don't care much about what others think... For all her outward contentment, though, Leah is tormented by questions in her past that eventually compel her to journey back to Sweetboro, North Carolina... Returning home a few weeks later, she is dejected, silent, and utterly changed..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

In the land of second chances - George Shaffner

In the Land of Second Chances
by George Shaffner

"In Ebb, Nebraska, things are pretty much as they were fifty years ago... Plucky Wilma Porter is the proprietress of Ebb's only Bed and Breakfast, and she knows everything there is to know in town... [including] the sad series of events that have led poor Calvin Millet to the edge of desperation. Calvin is the owner of Millet's Department Store, a village mainstay for generations, but many fear that it - and the downtown - won't survive his terrible run of bad luck." (from the reader's guide at Random House)

Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai

Inheritance of Loss
by Kiran Desai

"This stunning is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. The makeshift family's neighbors include a coterie of Anglophiles who might be savvy readers of V.S. Naipaul but who are, perhaps, less aware of how fragile their own social standing is—at least until a surge of unrest disturbs the region." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The Inn at Lake Devine - Elinor Lipman

The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman

"In the spring of 1962, in response to her inquiry about summer vacation accommodations at a lakeside Vermont inn, Natalie Marx's mother receives a letter saying 'our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles.' Feisty thirteen-year-old Natalie, whose heroine is Anne Frank and who is named for an aunt who died in the Holocaust, sets her sights on infiltrating this exclusive WASP establishment and teaching its proprietor, the frosty Ingrid Berry, a lesson." (from the reading guide at Random House.)

Into the Wild - John Krakauer

Into the Wild by John Krakauer

"After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive . . . (from Publisher's Weekly)

The kite runner - Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

"...Amir... places the fate of his relationship with his father on the outcome of a kite running tournament... Yet just as he begins to feel that all will be right in the world, a tragedy... marks a turning point in Amir's life - one whose memory he seeks to bury by moving to America." (from the reading guide at Penguin Books)

The last juror - John Grisham

The Last Juror
by John Grisham

"The killer belongs to an infamous clan... who live on impregnable Padgitt Island. Willie splashes the murder all over the Times, making him both an instant success and a marked man... Willie finds, to his consternation, that in Mississippi life doesn't necessarily mean life, so in nine years Danny is back out - and jurors begin to die..." (from Publishers Weekly)

The last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper

The Last of the Mohicans
by James Fenimore Cooper

"During this war, the French often allied themselves with Native American tribes in order to gain an advantage over the English, with unpredictable and often tragic results..." (from the introduction at SparkNotes)

A lesson before dying - Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines

"In a story so simple that it might be a lost parable from the Gospels, Gaines has compressed the entire bitter history of black people in the South -- and, by extension, in America as a whole... Gaines's novel transcends its minutely evoked circumstances to address the basic predicament of what it is to be a human being..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

Life of Pi- Yann Martel

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

"God, survival, and tiger behavior. It's hard to imagine a more invigorating combination of discussion topics. We hope that the following questions will enrich your reading of Pi's fantastic journey. After all, Pi didn't have to make his voyage alone; neither should you..." (from the reader's guide at Harcourt)

Look Me in the Eye - John Elder Robison

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
by John Elder Robison

"Robison's thoughtful and thoroughly memorable account of living with Asperger's syndrome is fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood, his abusive alcoholic father and his mentally disturbed mother. Robison describes how from nursery school on he could not communicate effectively with others, something his brain is not wired to do, since kids with Asperger's don't recognize common social cues and body language or facial expressions." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino's death." (from Library Journal)

Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine
by Louise Erdrich

". . . a multigenerational saga of two extended families who live on and around a Chippewa reservation in North Dakota. Each chapter is narrated in a memorable voice like the one of Lipsha Morrissey, a young man who is believed to have "the touch," with which he attempts to bring his wandering grandfather back to his long-suffering grandmother with a love medicine made from goose hearts." (from Library Journal)

Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

"On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years." (from

Loving Frank - Nancy Horan

Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan

"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." (from Novelist)

Mama Black Widow - Iceberg Slim

Mama Black Widow
by Iceberg Slim

"Otis Tilson's family moves from the rural South to the urban promised land of Chicago only to find more racism, abysmal slums and demeaning, low-paying jobs. Unable to provide for his family, Otis's father declines into alcoholism while the family founders, with Otis's doomed sisters and brother drifting into prostitution and petty crime. " (from Publisher's Weekly)

The march - E. L. Doctorow

The March
by E. L. Doctorow

"In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas... Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched." (from the reader's guide at Random House)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
by Kim Edwards

"In a tale spanning twenty-five years, a doctor delivers his newborn twins during a snowstorm and, rashly deciding to protect his wife from their baby daughter's affliction with Down Syndrome, turns her over to a nurse, who secretly raises the child. His deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters' lives, and their daughter's absence corrodes her birth family's core over the course of the next 25 years. (from Novelist)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt

"the book's extremely graceful prose depictions of some of Savannah, Georgia's most colorful eccentrics--remarkable characters who could have once prospered in a William Faulkner novel or Eudora Welty short story--were certainly a critical factor in its tremendous success." (from

The namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

"From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri's critically acclaimed first novel is a finely wrought, deeply moving family drama that illuminates her signature themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the tangled ties between generations." (from the reader's guide at Houghton Mifflin)

Niagara Falls all over again - Elizabeth McCracken

Niagara Falls all Over Again
by Elizabeth McCracken

"In vivid scenes, vaudeville veteran Mose Sharp recalls his journey from small-town Iowa to gritty New York theaters and the high-rolling dawn of Hollywood, evoking haunting images of a lost American landscape along the way." (from the reading guide at Random House)

The Nick Adams Stories - Ernest Hemingway

The Nick Adams Stories
by Ernest Hemingway

"The famous "Nick Adams" stories show a memorable character growing from child to adolescent soldier, veteran, writer and parent--a sequence closely paralleling the events of Hemingway's life." (from the product description)

Nickel and dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

"Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour?..." (from the reading guide at Henry Holt)

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout

"Thirteen linked tales present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening Pharmacy focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in A Little Burst, which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in Security, where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The other Boleyn girl - Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory

"When Mary Boleyn comes to court... she catches the eye of Henry VIII... However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn... as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

The Paris Wife - Paula McLain

The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain

"A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

A patchwork planet - Anne Tyler

A Patchwork Planet
by Anne Tyler

"Barnaby Gaitlin is a loser - just short of thirty he's the black sheep of a philanthropic Baltimore family... He has an almost pathological curiosity about other people's lives, which has got him into serious trouble in the past, and a hopeless charm which attracts the kind of angelic woman who wants to save him from himself." (from the reading guide at Random House UK | also check out the slightly longer reader's circle guide.)

Peace Like a River - Leif Enger

Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger

"Set in the Minnesota countryside and North Dakota Badlands of the early 1960s, Peace Like a River is a moving, engrossing, beautifully told story about one family's quest to retrieve its most wayward member... Davy Land..." (from the reading guide at Grove Atlantic)

The pilot's wife - Anita Shreve

The Pilot's Wife
by Anita Shreve

"Fighting the impulse to protect herself and her daughter from the details of the crash and the mystery surrounding it, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was - whatever that knowledge may cost. The search will lead her to shocking revelations, testing both the truth of her marriage and the limits of her ability to face it." (from the reading guide at Hatchette Books.)

The Plot Against America - Philip Roth

The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth

"In a novel of alternative history, aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, negotiating an accord with Adolf Hitler and accepting his conquest of Europe and anti-Semitic policies." (Novelist)

Possession: a romance - A.S. Byatt

Possession: A Romance
by A.S. Byatt

"Roland Michell and Maud Bailey, two rather unfulfilled young literary scholars, unexpectedly become figures of romance as they discover a surprising link between the two poets on whom they are authorities. Byatt deftly plays with literary genres... as Maud and Roland become deeply involved in the unfolding story of a secret relationship between the Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte." (from the reading guide at Random House.)

The purpose driven life - Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life
by Rick Warren

"The most basic question everyone faces in life is Why am I here? What is my purpose? Self-help books suggest that people should look within, at their own desires and dreams, but Rick Warren says the starting place must be with God and his eternal purposes for each life." (from the book description at; also look at the reader's guide.)

Push - Sapphire

by Sapphire

"Push recounts a young black street-girl's horrendous and redemptive journey through a Harlem inferno. For Precious Jones, 16 and pregnant with her father's child, miraculous hope appears and the world begins to open up for her when a courageous, determined teacher bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary." (from Product Description)

Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
by Azar Nafisi

"Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher... secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran... the girls in Azar Nafisi's living room risked removing their veils..." (from the reading guide at Random House.)

The red badge of courage - Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane

"The Red Badge of Courage is the story of Henry Fleming, a teenager who enlists with the Union Army in the hopes of fulfilling his dreams of glory. Shortly after enlisting, the reality of his decision sets in... Henry’s transformation from a fearful, lost, doubting youth, to a courageous, confident, duty-bound soldier is the essence of the novel." (from the synopsis at CliffsNotes)

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

"In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity." (from Novelist)

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

by Daniel H. Wilson

"Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike—yet massively powerful—artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour—the moment the robots attack—the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back." (from

The scarlet letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"A stark and allegorical tale of adultery, guilt, and social repression in Puritan New England, The Scarlet Letter is a foundational work of American literature... As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is 'the herald of the modern American heroine, a mother of such strength and stature that she towers over her progeny much as she does the citizens of Salem.'" (from the reading guide at Random House.)

Seabiscuit - Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand

"Hillenbrand combines a horse's biography with a social history of 1930s and 1940s America and incisive portraits of the team around Seabiscuit, the thoroughbred champion. Charlie Howard, a car dealer, bought the crooked-legged, scruffy little horse; Tom Smith, a man who rarely spoke to people but who communicated perfectly with horses, became its trainer; and Red Pollard, a half-blind jockey, rode Seabiscuit to fame." (from Library Journal)

The secret life of bees - Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

"Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees is a powerful story of coming-of-age, of the ability of love to transform our lives, and the often unacknowledged longing for the universal feminine divine. Addressing the wounds of loss, betrayal, and the scarcity of love, Kidd demonstrates the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, to mother each other and themselves, and to create a sanctuary of true family and home." (from the reader's guide at Penguin Group USA)

The Shack - William P. Young

The Shack
by William P. Young

"Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare." (from the Product Description)

The Song of the Lark - Willa Cather

The Song of the Lark
by Willa Cather

"...traces the development of a female artist supported by a series of male characters willing to serve her career. Inspired by Willa Cather's own development as a novelist and by the career of an opera diva, The Song of the Lark examines the themes of the artist's relationship with family and society, themes that would dominate all of Cather's best fiction." (from the reading guide at Penguin Books.)

Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky

Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky

"Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping "suite," collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos - H. P. Lovecraft

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos
by H. P. Lovecraft

"Most of H. P. Lovecraft's work is unified by a common theme--the Cthulhu (kuh-tool-ew) Mythos--in which gods furtively control the fate of mortals, and a mere glimpse of the universe, by nature hostile, is enough to drive a man insane. A number of Lovecraft's peers borrowed the Mythos for use in their own stories, launching a tradition that continues in our day. This generous volume . . . features 22 Mythos stories by Lovecraft and 15 other writers. (from Publisher's Weekly)

Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

"The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby can tell Janie's story to the nosy community on her behalf . Her life has three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three very different men." (from the article at Wikipedia)

The third man - Graham Greene

The Third Man
by Graham Greene

"Greene's novella, or 'entertainment,' was written in 1950 as a sort of preliminary draft for a screenplay... The motion picture, stated Greene, is better than the story because it is the story in its finished state... however... Murder, racketeering, mystery, and subterfuge combine for a compelling tale that is simple, economical, concise, and very satisfying." (Library Journal, also see our discussion guide)

The time traveler's wife - Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

"...the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, and were married when Clare was 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie
by Mitch Albom

"Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago..." (from the reader's guide at the book's website)

Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

by Laura Hillenbrand

"Readers of this soul-stirring narrative will never forget Louis Zamperini, who after a career as a runner served in WWII only to be captured and held prisoner by the Japanese; a more horrific internment would be difficult to imagine. Zamperini's physical and spiritual sufferings both during and after WWII and his coming out the other side become the story of a true American hero from that greatest generation.” (from Publishers Weekly best books of 2010)

Ursula, under - Ingrid Hill

Ursula, Under
by Ingrid Hill

In a series of stories, interspersed with the details of Ursula's attempted rescue, we discover that her ancestors have endured against impossible odds and that their combined legacy is now encapsulated within the tiny body trapped in the mine-a body made precious by heredity and history. (from the reading guide at Penguin Group USA)

Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures. (from Publisher's Weekly)

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed

" In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. “(from Publisher’s Weekly)

The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion

"Joan Didion chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock." (from Publisher's Weekly)

© 2013 William P. Faust Westland Public Library