The Book Discussion Group members select, read, and discuss 10 books per year. This active and dynamic Group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 9:30am - 11:00am in the Friends Room at the Central Library. All are welcome whether you’ve read the book or not and the program is FREE. Refreshments are provided and the books are available through the Newport Beach Public Library.
2019-2020 BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP READING LIST
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Keirnan, tells the unbelievable true story of young women who worked in a secret city dedicated to making fuel for the first atomic bomb—only they didn’t know that. This narrative non-fiction book is a story of patriotism and purpose, mystery and suspicion, survival and remembrance.
News of the World – A Novel by Paulette Jiles takes place in 1870, Texas. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels from town to town, bringing news to isolated communities. In Wichita Falls, he is asked to return a captive 10-year old girl to her relatives near San Antonio. The old man and girl begin a 400-mile, hazardous journey. Bandits and Comanche raids and violent weather make life difficult. This is a story of courage and honor and the truth that these two things are often the possession of the unlikeliest people.
Exit West by Moshin Hamid imagines the forces that drive people from their homes into new lands. In a country on the brink of civil war, Nadia and Saeed meet. They fall in love, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling in their city. When it explodes, streets turn into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts. They hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away. Profoundly intimate and inventive, this love story reveals loyalty and courage that is of our time and for all time.
The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo is the NY Times bestselling biography of the visionary widow who built a champagne empire, became a legend in tumultuous times, and showed the world how to live with style. Mazzeo brings to life the woman behind the label, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, in this intoxicating book that is as much a fascinating journey through the process of making wine as a biography of a uniquely tempered and fascinating woman.
From the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author, Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude vividly tells the story of Dylan Ebdus as he grows up white and motherless in Brooklyn in the 1970s. In a neighborhood where the entertainments include muggings along with stoopball, Dylan has one friend, a black teenager named Mingus Rude. Through the knitting and unraveling of the boys’ friendship, Lethem creates a rich and emotionally gripping canvas of race and class, superheroes, gentrification, funk, hip-hop, graffiti tagging, loyalty, and memory.
This coming-of-age story is an American classic and James Baldwin’s first major work. Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) is a potent combination of compassion and rage. It portrays a single day in a fourteen-year-old boy’s life. John Grimes is the stepson of a Pentecostal preacher in Harlem during the Depression. The story illuminates the racism his characters face and the double-edged role religion plays in their lives, both oppressive and inspirational. Baldwin mingles vernacular cadences with exalted biblical rhythms, rendering his young protagonist’s struggle to invent himself.
March 11 (cancelled)
The Giver by Lois Lowry, is about a boy who inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict. It is a time when family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and good manners are a way of life. At the annual Ceremony each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches Fiona be named Caretaker of the Old and Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas is sent to a man called The Giver and the boy senses the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.
April 8 (cancelled)
Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes looks at Hawaii—from the arrival of missionaries in 1820, to the coup d’état led by their sons in 1893. Overthrowing the Hawaiian queen, the events leading up to annexation feature a cast of beguiling, appalling, and tragic characters. Whalers who fire cannons at the Bible-thumpers denying them their god-given right to whores, an incestuous princess, sugar barons, con men, and Theodore Roosevelt. In examining the 50th State, a place where Manifest Destiny got a sunburn, Vowell finds America again, warts and all.
May 13 (cancelled)
The PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author brings to life Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. A razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq that explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad. Ben Fountain’s debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour." Karl Marlantes calls it “The Catch-22 of the Iraq War.”
Small World by Martin Suter depicts a man with a void in his soul. For years, Konrad was a benign parasite on the Koch family, but when their villa burns down because of his forgetfulness, the family’s matriarch puts him on a strict regime. No longer allowed his daily triple, Konrad recovers and falls in love. But then his Alzheimer’s takes hold. As he loses his present, he regains his distant past, and this is what they fear. As they wait for Konrad to rewind to the crucial moment, his life is in danger from far more than a debilitating disease.
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The Book Discussion Group program is made possible by the members of the NBPL Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. If you would like to underwrite this program and support the Library, please join the Foundation today! or contact Meg Linton at 949-717-3890 or Mlinton@newportbeachca.gov about program sponsorship opportunities.