Book Club Kits
The Salem Public Library Foundation, the Friends of Salem Public Library, the Oregon Center for the Book, and the Salem Public Library have teamed up to develop a group of Book Club Kits that are now available to area book clubs. Each kit offers 10 copies of a single book, author information, and suggested discussion questions. Kits check out for two months at a time.
Printable lists are available for the fiction and nonfiction book kits. For more information about the book kits, contact the Salem Public Library Reference Desk in person, by phone at 503-588-6052 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Case Histories||Atkinson, Kate|
To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories.
|Life After Life||Atkinson, Kate|
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
|Running the Rift||Benaron, Naomi|
Rwandan runner Jean Patrick Nkuba dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal and uniting his ethnically divided country, only to be driven from everyone he loves when the violence starts, after which he must find a way back to a better life.
|City of Thieves||Benioff, David|
A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won’t talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds.
|The Tortilla Curtain||Boyle, T.C.|
While leading their lives in their gated hilltop community in Los Angeles, Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher accidentally meet Mexican undocumented immigrants Candido and America Rincon, and their encounter brings them together in a relationship of error and misunderstanding.
Seven-year-old Rachel is forcibly removed from her family's 1890s Honolulu home when she contracts leprosy and is placed in a settlement, where she loses a series of new friends before new medical discoveries enable her to reenter the world.
|People of the Book||Brooks, Geraldine|
In 1996, Hanna Heath, a young Australian book conservator is called to analyze the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless six-hundred-year-old Jewish prayer book that has been salvaged from a destroyed Bosnian library. When Hanna discovers a series of artifacts in the centuries' old, she unwittingly exposes an international cover up.
|My Antonia||Cather, Willa|
A compassionate and gripping reflection on life and community in America through the life story of Antonia Shimerda, a Bohemian immigrant woman living on the plains of Nebraska in the 1880s.
|Ricochet River||Cody, Robin|
Three teenagers growing up in Calamus, Oregon, in the 1960s--native American newcomer Jessie, star athlete Wade, and Wade's girlfriend, Lorna--struggle to escape the physical and mental confines of their small town.
|The Orchardist||Coplin, Amanda|
At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist, William Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were loved ones. One day, two teenage girls appear and steal his fruit from the market; they later return to the outskirts of his orchard to see the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, the girls take up on Talmadge's land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion. Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, Amanda Coplin weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune.
|Pope Joan||Cross, Donna|
Set against the turbulent events of the Dark Ages, a fictional account of the controversial figure of historical record profiles a spirited woman who, disguised as a man, rose to rule Christianity as the only woman ever to become pope.
|The Sisters Brothers||deWitt, Patrick|
When a frontier baron known as the Commodore orders Charlie and Eli Sisters, his hired gunslingers, to track down and kill a prospector named Herman Kermit Warm, the brothers journey from Oregon to San Francisco, and eventually to Warm's claim in the Sierra foothills, running into a witch, a bear, a dead Indian, a parlor of drunken floozies, and a gang of murderous fur trappers.
|The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao||Diaz, Junot|
Living with an old-world mother and rebellious sister, an urban New Jersey misfit dreams of becoming the next J. R. R. Tolkien and believes that a long-standing family curse is thwarting his efforts to find love and happiness.
|Dancing at the Rascal Fair||Doig, Ivan|
In 1889, Angus McCaskill travels from Scotland to America where he and Anna Ramsey engage in a fateful contest of the heart as they forge new lives in the beautiful Two Medicine country of Montana.
|Mink River||Doyle, Brian|
Looks at the lives, loves, and losses of the residents of the village of Neawanaka, Oregon.
|His Mother’s Son||Emmons, Cai (Oregon author)|
Her successful life as an emergency-room doctor unraveling as her young son's behavior becomes increasingly problematic, Jana Thomas remembers the past that she put out of her mind years earlier involving her violent younger brother and the parental role she assumed for his care.
|Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Co||Escandon, Maria Amparo|
A model prisoner at the Mexicali Penal Institution for Women, Libertad Gonzalez leads the weekly Library Club, reading aloud from whatever books she can find and in the process revealing the story of her father.
Calliope's friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her Grandparents' desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.
|The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving||Evison, Jonathan|
After losing virtually everything meaningful in his life, Benjamin trains to be a caregiver, but his first client, a fiercely independent teen with muscular dystrophy, gives him more than he bargained for and soon the two embark on a road trip to visit the boy's ailing father.
|Then We Came to the End||Ferris, Joshua|
The remaining employees at an office affected by a business downturn spend their time enjoying secret romances, elaborate pranks, and frequent coffee breaks, while trying to make sense of their only remaining "work," a mysterious pro-bono ad campaign.
|A Sudden Country||Fisher, Karen|
His life turned upside down by the deaths of his children from smallpox and desertion of his Nez Percé wife, Hudson's Bay Company trader James MacLaren joins a group of settlers headed west to Oregon in 1847 and encounters Lucy Mitchell, the wife of his employer, a woman who helps him confront his past, present, and future.
|The Great Gatsby||Fitzgerald, F. Scott|
Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything, but beneath his young, handsome, rich exterior, lies a secret longing to be fulfilled. Considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s greatest novel, The Great Gatsby is a riveting commentary on American Society in the 1920s.
|Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet||Ford, Jamie|
Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe.
|The Hearts of Horses||Gloss, Molly|
In the winter of 1917, with many of his regular hands off fighting in World War I, George Bliss hires young Martha Lessen to help gentle wild horses, and as she demonstrates her unique talent for dealing with damaged horses, she finds a sense of family and belonging.
|The Jump-Off Creek||Gloss, Molly (Oregon author)|
A dramatic novel detailing the trials and tribulations of a widowed homesteader against the backdrop of Oregon’s unforgiving and forbidding Blue Mountains.
|A Reliable Wife||Goolrick, Robert|
Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman with a troubled past who lives in a remote nineteenth-century Wisconsin town, has advertised for a reliable wife; and his ad is answered by Catherine Land, a woman who makes every effort to hide her own dark secrets.
|The Kitchen House||Grissom, Kathleen|
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
|Water For Elephants||Gruen, Sara|
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.
|The Art of Fielding||Harbach, Chad|
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big-league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
From the unsettled lives of a small-town teacher struggling to raise two boys alone in the face of their mother's retreat from life, a pregnant teenage girl with nowhere to go, and two elderly bachelor farmers emerges a new vision of life and family as their diverse destinies intertwine.
(It is recommended that both Plainsong and Eventide be read sequentially.) A novel of small-town life in the high plains region around Holt, Colorado, follows the challenges, emotional upheaval, tragedies, and intertwined destinies of the local inhabitants as they cope with the changes they encounter.
|Loving Frank||Horan, Nancy|
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.
|The Kite Runner||Hosseini, Khaled|
Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.
|Silver Sparrow||Jones, Tayari|
Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, Silver Sparrow revolves around James Witherspoon's two families-the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered.
|The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry||Joyce, Rachel|
Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.
|Broken for You||Kallos, Stephanie|
Margaret Hughes, a septuagenarian living in Seattle, takes in a series of boarders who help her cope with her illness, and whose lives become unexpectedly connected to each other.
|Little Century||Keesey, Anna|
After she moves near the lawless frontier town of Century, Oregon, to become a homesteader, eighteen-year-old Esther Chambers finds herself in a full-out range war that tests her loyalty to her cousin, rancher Ferris Pickett.
|Sometimes a Great Notion||Kesey, Ken|
The magnificent second novel from the legendary author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sailor Song is a wild-spirited and hugely powerful tale of an Oregon logging clan.
|Unaccustomed Earth||Lahiri, Jhumpa|
Exploring the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships, a collection of eight stories includes the title work, about a young mother in a new city whose father tends her garden while hiding a secret love affair.
|Shutter Island||Lehane, Dennis|
U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule, come to Shutter Island's Ashecliffe Hospital in search of an escaped mental patient, but uncover true wickedness as Ashecliffe's mysterious patient treatments propel them to the brink of insanity.
|The Secrets of Mary Bowser||Leveen, Lois|
Based on the true story of Mary Bowser, a freed slave who returns to Virginia to spy on the Confederates, The secrets of Mary Bowser is the powerful story of a woman who must sacrifice her freedom to truly achieve it.
|The Dry Grass of August||Mayhew, Anna Jean|
In 1954, 13-year-old Jubie, traveling with her family and her family's black maid Mary Luther--who has always been there for her, making up for her father's rages and her mother's neglect--encounters racial tension and tragedy.
|The Paris Wife||McLain, Paula|
Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career.
|Last Night at the Lobster||O’Nan, Stewart|
Managing a failed seafood restaurant in a run-down New England mall just before Christmas, Manny DeLeon coordinates a challenging final shift of mutinous staff members, an effort that is complicated by his love for a waitress, a pregnant girlfriend, and an elusive holiday gift.
|When the Emperor Was Divine||Otsuka, Julie|
A story told from five different points of view, chronicles the experiences of Japanese Americans caught up in the nightmare of the World War II internment camps.
|State of Wonder||Patchett, Ann|
A researcher at a pharmaceutical company, Marina Singh journeys into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years--a dangerous assignment that forces Marina to confront the ghosts of her past.
|The Crying Tree||Rakha, Naseem|
When her 15-year-old son is killed shortly after their family relocates to Oregon, the grieving mother secretly exchanges letters with the killer in a desperate hope to forgive him and move on, a correspondence that sparks an explosive confrontation when it is discovered by her husband years later.
|My Abandonment||Rock, Peter|
Living with her father in a nature preserve in Portland, Oregon, thirteen-year-old Caroline only merges with the civilized world once a week when they go into the city, but an encounter with a backcountry jogger derails their entire existence.
|Sarah's Key||Rosnay, Tatiana de|
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.
|The Casual Vacancy||Rowling, J. K.|
A big novel about a small town... When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
|Shadow of the Wind||Ruiz Zafón, Carlos|
A boy named Daniel selects a novel from a library of rare books, enjoying it so much that he searches for the rest of the author's works, only to discover that someone is destroying every book the author has ever written.
|Blindness||Saramago, Jose |
In a provocative parable of loss, disorientation, and weakness, a city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" whose victims are confined to a vacant mental hospital, while a single eyewitness to the nightmare guides seven oddly assorted strangers through the barren urban landscape.
|The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society||Shaffer, Mary Ann|
In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.
|When She Flew||Shortridge, Jenny|
Police officer Jessica Villareal recognizes a chance to make a difference in someone's life, as well as her own, when faced with having to separate a father and daughter living off the radar in the Oregon woods.
|Major Pettigrew's Last Stand||Simonson, Helen|
Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until 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 will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?
|Olive Kitteridge||Strout, Elizabeth|
At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.
|Cutting for Stone||Verghese, Abraham|
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel--an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa.
|Lean on Pete||Vlautin, Willy|
Left homeless by the death of his father, fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson sets off with a racehorse, Lean on Pete, on a perilous treck from Portland, Oregon to Wyoming to find a distant aunt, hoping to regain stability in his life.
|Beautiful Ruins||Walter, Jess|
The award-winning author of The Financial Lives of the Poets presents his most romantic and enjoyable novel yet that follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.
|The Financial Lives of the Poets||Walter, Jess|
Matt Prior is losing his job, his wife, and his house, and he's about to lose his mind--until he discovers a way that he might possibly be able to save it all.
|Salvage the Bones||Ward, Jesmyn|
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.
Civil War veteran Abel Truman, now elderly and disabled, endures a solitary existence in a driftwood shack on the Pacific Coast before undertaking one last hike through the Olympic Mountains, a journey during which he reflects on the war's savagery and the people who touched his life.
|The New Jim Crow||Alexander, Michelle|
Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.
|Gather Together in My Name||Angelou, Maya|
In this second volume of her poignant autobiographical series, Maya Angelou powerfully captures the struggles and triumphs of her passionate life with dignity, wisdom, humor, and humanity.
|The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride||Brown, Daniel|
A chronicle of the mid-nineteenth-century wagon train tragedy draws on the perspectives of one of its survivors, Sarah Graves, recounting how she and her new husband joined the Donner party on their California-bound journey and encountered violent perils.
|Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking||Cain, Susan|
This book demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in modern culture, charting the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples of how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations.
|In Cold Blood: A True Account of Multiple Murder and Its Consequences||Capote, Truman|
An account of the senseless murder of a Kansas farm family and the search for the killers.
|The Worst Hard Time||Egan, Timothy|
Presents an oral history of the dust storms that devastated the Great Plains during the Depression, following several families and their communities in their struggle to persevere despite the devastation.
|Nickel and Dimed||Ehrenreich, Barbara|
In an attempt to understand the lives of Americans earning near-minimum wages, Ehrenreich works as a waitress in Florida, a cleaning woman in Maine, and a sales clerk in Minnesota.
|Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood||Fuller, Alexandra|
An intimate memoir of growing up in Africa during the Rhodesian civil war of 1971 to 1979 describes her life on farms in southern Rhodesia, Milawi, and Zambia, detailing her hardscrabble existence with an alcoholic mother, frequently absent father, and three lost siblings, as well as her fierce love for Africa.
|A Moveable Feast||Hemingway, Ernest|
Hemingway's classic memoir of Paris in the 1920's is filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.
|To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918||Hochschild, Adam|
World War I stands as one of history's most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation. In his riveting narrative, Hochschild brings it to life as never before while focusing on the long-ignored moral drama of the war's critics, alongside its generals and heroes.
|The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible||Jacobs, A. J.|
The author of Know It All documents his improbable adventure of living one year in literal compliance with biblical rules, a quest during which he adhered to famous and lesser-known scriptural laws, from being fruitful and multiplying to growing a beard and avoiding mixed-fiber clothing.
|The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind||Kamkwamba, William|
Relates how an enterprising teenager in Malawi builds a windmill from scraps he finds around his village and brings electricity, and a future, to his family.
|In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin||Larson, Erik|
Documents the efforts of the first American ambassador to Hitler's Germany, William E. Dodd, to acclimate to a residence in an increasingly violent city where he is forced to associate with the Nazis while his daughter pursues a relationship with Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels.
In 1910, at the height of the Edwardian era, a mild-mannered American named Hawley Harvey Crippen killed his wife and buried her remains in the cellar of their London home. A Scotland Yard inspector discovered the remains and launched an international hunt for Crippen that climaxed in a trans-Atlantic chase between two ocean liners. Thanks to a new and poorly understood technology--the wireless, invented by Guglielmo Marconi, Crippen was caught and arrested.
|The Bookseller of Kabul||Seierstad, Asne|
Capturing the harsh realities of life in modern-day Afghanistan and plight of Afghan women, the Norwegian journalist provides a portrait of a committed Muslim man, a bookseller, and his family living in post-Taliban Kabul, Afghanistan.
|The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks||Skloot, Rebecca|
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.
|My Beloved World||Sotomayor, Sonia|
The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.
|Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford||Stafford, Kim|
The son of the acclaimed poet traces his father's prolific career as documented by his works, noting the senior Stafford's illuminations, silences, fearlessness, and impact as a writer.
|Down in My Heart||Stafford, William|
From 1942 to 1945, William Stafford was interned in camps for conscientious objectors in Arkansas and California for his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army. Down in My Heart is an account of the relationships among the men in the camps and their day-to-day activities - fighting forest fires, building trails and roads, restoring eroded lands - and their earnest pursuit of a social morality rooted in religious and secular pacifist ideals.
|Travels with Charley: In Search of America||Steinbeck, John|
The author and his elderly poodle Charley embark on a quest across America in 1962.
|Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail||Strayed, Cheryl|
A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.
|The Glass Castle: A Memoir||Walls, Jeanette|
The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.
|Geography of Bliss||Weiner, Eric|
Draws on the author's experiences as a foreign correspondent and reporter to evaluate more than three dozen countries for their happiness potential, in a lighthearted survey that includes profiles of such locales as the American shores, glacial Iceland, and the Bhutan jungles.
|Falling Leaves: the True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter||Yen Mah, Adeline|
The daughter of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman describes her very difficult childhood and the psychological abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother