Adult Book Club Kits

The library has a growing collection of Book Club Kits, which may be loaned for six weeks.  The overdue fee is $1.00 per day.
The original set of Book Club kits were purchased through a generous donation in memory of Helen C. Kelly.  Subsequent kits were funded in memory of Jean Rauscher, and by Carole Alderman.  Please see Library Director Karen Demers if you are interested in funding a kit.

Kit # 1 - The Gendarme, by Mark T. Mustian

To those around him, Emmet Conn is a ninety-two-year-old man on the verge of senility. But what becomes frighteningly clear to Emmet is that the sudden, realistic dreams he is having are memories of events he, and many others, have denied or purposely forgotten. The Gendarme is a unique love story that explores the power of memory- and the ability of people, individually and collectively, to forget. Depicting how love can transcend nationalities and politics, how racism creates divisions where none truly exist, and how the human spirit fights to survive even in the face of hopelessness, this is a transcendent novel.
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Kit #2 - This Must Be the Place, by Kate Racculia

The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the three eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife's mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from sixteen years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent. Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story—one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love—how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and how even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together. With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.
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Kit #3 - Woodsburner, by John Pipkin

Woodsburner springs from a little-known event in the life of one of America's most iconic figures, Henry David Thoreau. On April 30, 1844, a year before he built his cabin on Walden Pond, Thoreau accidentally started a forest fire that destroyed three hundred acres of the Concord woods. Against the background of Thoreau's fire, John Pipkin's debut penetrates the mind of the young philosopher while also painting a panorama of the young nation at a formative moment. Pipkin's Thoreau is a lost soul, plagued by indecision, resigned to a career designing pencils for his father's factory while dreaming of better things. On the day of the fire, his path will intersect with three very different local citizens, each of whom also harbors a secret dream. Oddmund Hus, a lovable Norwegian farmhand, pines for the wife of his brutal employer. Eliott Calvert, a prosperous bookseller, is also a hilariously inept aspiring playwright. And Caleb Dowdy preaches fire and brimstone to his congregation through an opium haze. Each of their lives, like Thoreau's, is changed forever by the fire.
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Kit #4 - People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

In 1996, a rare book expert is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of a mysterious, beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain and recently saved from destruction during the shelling of Sarajevo's libraries. When Hanna Heath discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the book's ancient binding - an insect-wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins to unlock the mysteries of the book's eventful past and to uncover the dramatic stories of those who created it and those who risked everything to protect it. In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siecle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city's rising anti-Semitism. In Venice in 1609, a Catholic priest saves the book from the Inquisition's fires. In Taragona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of forced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the manuscript's extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna's investigations unexpectedly plunge her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultranationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and in the man she has come to love. Click here for availability

Kit #5 - Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

Taking a job as an assistant to extreme sports enthusiast Will, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident, Louisa struggles with her employer's acerbic moods and learns of his shocking plans before demonstrating to him that life is still worth living. Click here for availability.

Kit #6 - Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart. The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?  Click here for availability.

Kit #7 - The Good Daughters, by Joyce Maynard

They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital—but Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson are different in nearly every way. Ruth is an artist, a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life—the fifth daughter born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters, Dana is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. From the 1950s to the present, the lives of the “birthday sisters” parallel and oddly intersect, as each struggles to find her place in a world in which she has never truly felt she belonged. Sharing little except a birth date—and a love for Dana’s wild and beautiful older brother, Ray—two virtual strangers will travel alternate paths winding through first love, first sex, marriage, parenthood, divorce, and tragic loss...until both are forced to reevaluate themselves and each other when past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light.  Click here for availability.

Kit #8 - The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.  Click here for availability.

Kit #9 - At Home: A Short History of Private Life, by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as found in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home." The bathroom provides the occasion for the history of hygiene, the bedroom for an account of sex, death, and sleep, the kitchen for a discussion of nutrition and the spice trade, and so on, showing how each has figured in the evolution of private life. From architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the telephone to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets-the brilliant, creative, and often eccentric talents behind them-Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world ends up in our houses, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.  Click here for availability.

Kit #10 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Click here for availability.

Kit #11 - The Radleys, by Matt Haig

Struggling with overwork and parenting angst, English village doctor Peter Radley endeavors to hide his family's vampire nature until their daughter's oddly satisfying act of violence reveals the truth, an event that is complicated by the arrival of a practicing vampire family member.  Click here for availability.


 

Kit #12 - World and Town, by Gish Jen

Hattie Kong---the spirited offspring of a descendant of Confucius and an American missionary to China---has, in her fiftieth year of living in the United States, lost both her husband and her best friend to cancer. But now, two years later, it is time for Hattie to start over. She moves to the town of Riverlake, where she is soon joined by an from their inner-city troubles, as well as---quite unexpectedly---by a just-retired neuro-scientist ex-lover named Carter Hatch. All of them are, like Hattie, looking for a new start in a town that might once have represented the rock-solid base of American life but that is itself challenged, in 2001, by cell-phone towers and chain stores, struggling family farms and fundamentalist Christians. What Hattie makes of this situation is at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, America, What neighbors are, what love is, and, in the largest sense, what "Worlds" we make of the world.  Click here for availability.

Kit #13 - I Still Dream about You, by Fannie Flagg

Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie’s life seems practically perfect—she’s lovely, charming, and a successful agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can’t help but wonder how she wound up living a life so different from the one she dreamed of as a child. But just when things seem completely hopeless, and the secrets of Maggie’s past drive her to a radical plan to solve it all, Maggie discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems, has at least one little secret.  Click here for availability.

Kit #14 - Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope. Click here for availability.

Kit #15 - The Zookeeper's Wife

Tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Click here for availability.

Kit #16 - The Good American, by Alex George

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together. Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home. Click here for availability.

Kit #16 - The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. Click here for availability.

Kit #18 - Alice Bliss, by Laura Harrington

Tomboy Alice Bliss is heartbroken when she learns that her father, Matt, is being deployed to Iraq. Matt will miss seeing Alice blossom into a full-blown teenager: she'll learn to drive, join the track team, go to her first dance, and fall in love—all while trying to be strong for her mother, Angie, and her precocious little sister. But the phone calls from her father are never long enough. At once universal and very personal, Alice Bliss is a profoundly moving story about those who are left at home during wartime and a small-town teenage girl bravely facing the future. Click here for availability.

Kit #19 - West of Here, by Jonathan Evison

Since the dawn of recorded history, the Klallam Indians have thrived upon the bounty of the Elwha River. In 1889, on the eve of Washington's statehood, the Olympic Peninsula remains America's last frontier. But not for long. As northwestern expansion reaches its feverish crescendo, the clock is ticking.  Click here for availability.

Kit #20 - Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet: the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. Click here for availability.

Kit #21 - The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty

Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she's in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever. Click here for availability.

Kit #22 - G.I Brides: The Wartime Girls who Crossed the Atlantic for Love, by Duncan Barrett.

Worn down by years of war and hardship, girls like Sylvia, Margaret, and Gwendolyn were thrilled when American GI's arrived in Britain with their exotic accents, handsome uniforms and aura of Hollywood glamor. Others, like Rae, who distrusted the Yanks, were eventually won over by their easy charm. So when VE Day finally came, for the 70,000 women who'd become GI brides, it was tinged with sadness--it meant leaving their homeland behind to follow their husbands across the Atlantic. And the long voyage was just the beginning of an even bigger journey. Adapting to a new culture thousands of miles from home, often with a man they barely knew, was difficult-but these women survived the Blitz and could cope with anything. GI Brides shares the sweeping, compelling, and moving true stories of four women who gave up everything and crossed an ocean for love. Click here for availability.

Kit #23 - Rocket Boys, by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.

The author traces the boyhood enthusiasm for rockets that eventually led to a career at NASA, describing how he built model rockets in the family garage in West Virginia, inspired by the launch of the Soviet satellite "Sputnik". Click here for availability.


 

Kit #24 - The Man who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono

Story of Elzeard Bouffier, a man of great simplicity and determination. He travels to Provence, in southeastern France and there alone with his sheep and dog, he builds a stone house and daily plants one hundred acorns. Click here for availability.

Kit #25 - The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant

A story about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century. Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie's intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can't imagine--a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her "How did you get to be the woman you are today." Click here for availability.

Kit #26 - A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon; the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him 'the bitter neighbour from hell'. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

Kit #27 - The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life. Click here for availability.

Kit #28 - Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

Close to aging out of the foster care system, Molly Ayer takes a position helping an elderly woman named Vivian and discovers that they are more alike than different as she helps Vivian solve a mystery from her past. Click here for availability.