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Book Club Book Choices
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Looking for a good book and a lively discussion?
Here are the last year’s favorites from local book clubs.

All Over but the Shoutin’
by Rick Bragg (329 pages)
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Memoir of a Southern childhood.


All the Pretty Horses
by Cormac McCarthy (301 pages)
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Young Texas rancher rides into Mexico looking for adventure.


Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon (639 pages)
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Mid-century story of comic books, superheroes and real life survival.


American Pastoral
by Philip Roth (423 pages)
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Successful American comes up against the turbulent sixties.


Angle of Repose
by Wallace Stegner (632 pages)
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Four generations in the life of an American family.


Atonement
by Ian McEwan (351 pages)
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Love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness.


Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
by Mario Vargas Llosa (374 pages)
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Comic novel about forbidden passion.


Autobiography of a Face
by Lucy Grealy (223 pages)
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Disfigurement, loss of beauty and overcoming the pain in a candid memoir.


Ava’s Man
by Rick Bragg (259 pages)
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Re-telling of a grandfather’s desperately difficult life.


Becoming Justice Blackmun
by Linda Greenhouse (268 pages)
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The personal transformation of a legendary justice.


Before and After
by Rosellen Brown (354 pages)
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Heart-wrenching, literary crime thriller.


Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett (318 pages)
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Dinner party guests become terror hostages on a South American estate.


A Bell for Adano
by John Hersey (269 pages)
WW II Italian American general on a quest to replace the town’s 700- year -old bell.


A Bend in the River
by V.S. Naipaul (278 pages)
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Politics and society in post-colonial Africa.


Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War
by Sebastian Faulks (402 pages)
Drama of World War I era.


Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood (521 pages)
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Love and betrayal in a story within a novel within another novel.


Blindness
by Jose Saramago (294 pages)
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A parable of loss and disorientation.


Book of Salt
by Monique Truong (261 pages)
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Live-in Vietnamese cook finds a job with Gertrude Stein & Alice Toklas.


Boy Still Missing
by John Searles (309 pages)
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Pathos, tragedy and love in a dysfunctional, blue-collar family.


Casting with a Fragile Thread: a Story of Sisters and Africa
by Wendy Kann (284 pages)
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A return to her childhood home in Zimbabwe with all its memories.


Confessions of Max Tivoli
by Andrew Sean Greer (267 pages)
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Haunting love story in the voice of a man who appears to grow younger each day.


Crossing to Safety
by Wallace Stegner (277 pages)
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Intimate portrait of two marriages and their long friendship.


Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon (226 pages)
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Autistic 15- year -old decides to find out who murdered his neighbor’s dog.


Dante Club
by Matthew Pearl (372 pages)
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Blended fact and fiction, a tribute to Dante featuring Sherlock Holmes.


A Death in the Family
by James Agee (320 pages)
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Happiness destroyed by unexpected death.


Death of the Heart
by Elizabeth Bowen (418 pages)
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Youthful innocence meets cynical world of unsympathetic adults.


Desert Queen: the Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer
by Janet Wallach (419 pages)
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A vital player on the world stage and a woman way ahead of her times.


Devil in the White City:  Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson (447 pages)
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A creative genius and a mass murderer at work at the 1893 World’s Fair.


Disgrace
by J. M. Coetzee (220 pages)
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Outmoded and outdated in new South Africa.


English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje (307 pages)
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Spell-binding tale set in Italian villa at the end of World War II.


Everyman
by Philip Roth (182 pages)
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Allegorical everyman as fictional autobiography.


Fall on Your Knees
by Ann-Marie McDonald (508 pages)
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Saga of five generations of Nova Scotia family.


A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry (603 pages)
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The human spirit prevails during India’s 1975 state of emergency.


Frangipani
by Celestine Vaite (294 pages)
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A mother-daughter love story set in Tahiti.


Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
by Fareed Zakaria (286 pages)
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What does democracy mean? How does it really work?


Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls (288 pages)
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Troubled child of vagabonds becomes glamorous gossip columnist in this memoir.


God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy (321 pages)
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Vivid account of the collision of ancient and modern life in India.


Hamlet’s Dresser
by Bob Smith (286 pages)
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Memoir of being “saved by Shakespeare.”


Heart of the Matter
by Graham Greene (255 pages)
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Police officer in wartime West Africa falls in love.


History of Love
by Nicole Krauss (252 pages)
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Lost love, found love and re-discovered love of an octogenarian.   


The Hours
by Michael Cunningham (229 pages)
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Three women move through the day a la Mrs. Dalloway.


The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende (368 pages)
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Symbolic family saga set in a turbulent South American country.


The Human Stain
by Philip Roth (361 pages)
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Lifts the lid on 1998 American prurience and secrets.


I Am Charlotte Simmons
by Tom Wolfe (676 pages)
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Inside scoop on college life.


The Inheritance of Loss
by Kiran Desai ( 324 pages)
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A few powerless individuals in the Himalayas beset by universal issues of life.


Iron & Silk
by Mark Salzman (211 pages)
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Adventures of a young martial arts student in China.


The Island at the Center of the World
by Russell Shorto (384 pages)
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New York in its primordial state, as a Dutch commercial outpost.


John Adams
by David McCullough (751 pages)
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Epic tale of a most influential and misunderstood American founder.


Johnstown Flood
by David McCullough (302 pages)
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Classic chronicle of the 1889 disaster.


Joy Comes in the Morning
by Jonathan Rosen ( 389 pages)
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Plumbs the nature of belief with the story of a female rabbi.


The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini (324 pages)
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Friendship in the lives of two Afghan boys whose very different lives overlap.


Last Hurrah
by Edwin O’Connor (427 pages)
Fictional account of the last days of Boston Mayor Curley and his political rule.


Leopard
by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (319 pages)
Classic story of 1860s Sicilian aristocracy in its waning years.


Life of Pi
by Yann Martel (319 pages)
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Adventure tale of mystery, religion, whimsy and allegory.


Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
by Lawrence Wright (469 pages)
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All the elements of 9/11 in a compelling narrative.


Madam Secretary: A Memoir
by Madeleine Albright (562 pages)
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First female Secretary of State tells her story.


March
by Geraldine Brooks (280 pages)
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March leaves his “Little Women” behind to go to war.


Master Butchers Singing Club
by Louise Erdrich (389 pages)
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Music and love change an ex-soldier’s life.


Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden (434 pages)
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Geisha comes of age in the 1930s.


Messages from My Father
by Calvin Trillin (117 pages)
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Quiet and profound tribute to a proud American character.


Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides (529 pages)
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Complex and epic family saga.


Mountains Beyond Mountains
by Tracy Kidder (373 pages)
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Biography of Dr. Paul Farmer who took his expertise and compassion around the world.


My Sister’s Keeper
by Jodi Picoult (423 pages)
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A child owes her existence to being a genetic match for her terminally ill sister.


Mystic River
by Dennis Lehane (401 pages)
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Crime, punishment and revenge in blue-collar Massachusetts.


The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri (291 pages)
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A family portrait and a novel of identity.


Nine Parts of Desire: the Hidden World of Islamic Women
by Geraldine Brooks (255 pages)
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Intimate picture of the lives of modern Muslim women.


Nobody’s Fool
by Richard Russo (549 pages)
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Life in an economically depressed small town.


Not Me
by Michael Lavigne (300 pages)
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A son tries to unravel his father’s past and his own identity.


Old Filth
by Jane Gardam (289 pages)
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British barrister is not what he seems; the story of his past explains.


On Beauty
by Zadie Smith ( 445 pages)
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Politics and culture wars intersect with the personal in this witty novel.


One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus (304 pages)
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Historical novel: a woman married to a Cherokee chief falls in love with an Army captain.


Pacific and Other Stories
by Mark Helprin (366 pages)
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Master of contemporary short stories on war and love.


Palace Walk
by Naguib Mahfouz (498 pages)
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Disintegrating family life in post World War I Egypt.


The Piano Tuner
by Daniel Mason (317 pages)
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Adventures of a piano tuner sent from England to pre-colonial Burma.


Plainsong
by Kent Haruf (301 pages)
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Family, romance, trouble and tenacity in a small Colorado town.


Plot Against America
by Philip Roth (391 pages)
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Alternate history novel in which Charles Lindbergh has won the presidential election.


Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver (546 pages)
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Cultural diversity, political morality and environmental ethics in the Belgian Congo.


Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen (416 pages)
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Classic satire on English manners at the turn of the 18th century.


Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (307 pages)
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Family story of a 15-year-old Nigerian coming of age during the country’s political unrest.


Rashi’s Daughters
by Maggie Anton (384 pages)
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Daughters of the 11th century Jewish scholar in a historical novel.


The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink (218 pages)
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Literary surprise and moral challenge as love and revulsion collide.


Red Azalea
by Anchee Min (306 pages)
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Growing up in Mao’s China.


Remembering Laughter
by Wallace Stegner (152 pages)
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Stegner’s first novel; life on the farm.


Saturday
by Ian McEwan (289 pages)
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Pivotal day in the life of a brain surgeon and his family.


Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (486 pages)
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Tale of murder, madness and secrets in Barcelona.


The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx (337 pages)
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Man tries to rebuild his life in a Newfoundland fishing village.


Sister of My Heart
by Chitra Divakaruni (332 pages)
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Power of story-telling and the love of sisters set in Calcutta.


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See (258 pages)
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19th century Chinese women’s lives.


So Long, See You Tomorrow
by William Maxwell (135 pages)
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Autobiographical novel about childhood.


The Soloist
by Mark Salzman (284 pages)
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Musical prodigy grows up to accept his true self.


Song of Names
by Norman Lebrecht (311 pages)
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Holocaust story of deep friendship and music.


The Space Between Us
by Thrity Umrigar (321 pages)
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Two Indian women from different classes share their lives.


Special Topics in Calamity Physics
by Marisha Pessl (514 pages)
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Literary novel about an unusual upbringing and a murder mystery.


Stones from the River
by Ursula Hegi (525 pages)
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Dwarf librarian holds the town’s secrets in World War II Germany.


Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X
by Deborah Davis (310 pages)
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Art history as a novel of celebrity, obsession and betrayal.


Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky (395 pages)
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Horror and chaos of war crafted into compelling fiction by an eyewitness.


Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin (916 pages)
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President Lincoln, political genius and his cabinet.


The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro (245 pages)
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The perfect English butler reminisces in post war England.


Things They Carried
by Tim O’Brien (246 pages)
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Soldiers of the Vietnam War and their burdens.


Trilogy: Tales of Passion and Woe (370 pages), Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B (436 pages), Last Great Dance on Earth (370 pages)
by Sandra Gulland
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The life and loves of Josephine Bonaparte.


Truth & Beauty: A Friendship
by Ann Patchett (257 pages)
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Memoir of a profound friendship, its joys and sorrows.


Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son’s Return to His Jewish Family
by Stephen J. Dubner (336 pages)
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Memoir of being raised as a Catholic, discovering his Jewish roots and reconciling his family.


Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer (372 pages)
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Violence and fanaticism – true crime among religious fundamentalists.


Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
by Carlos Eire (383 pages)
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Eulogy for his Cuban childhood from a modern American.


Washington Square
by Henry James (166 pages)
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Classic. Father and daughter in 1880s New York city.


Way the Crow Flies
by Ann-Marie MacDonald (722 pages)
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Family story of love and secrets set in the Cold War era.


Well of Loneliness
by Radclyffe Hall (441 pages)
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1928 classic of lesbian fiction.


White Teeth
by Zadie Smith (448 pages)
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A Brit and a Muslim Bengali in a Dickens-like London tale.


The World is Flat: a Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
by Thomas L. Friedman (488 pages)
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Globalization. We are all (instantly pages) connected.


Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague
by Geraldine Brooks (308 pages)
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A small mountain village in 1660 deals with disaster.


Zipporah, Wife of Moses
by Marek Halter (278 pages)
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An ancient, interracial marriage.


Marta Campbell ▪ Head of Collection Management
Tel: 203.291.4842 Email: mcampbell [at] westportlibrary [dot] org