Keeping your book group in focus
Having trouble getting your reading group organized? Never fear: there are several excellent books that can help you get your group off the ground. Because there are categories galore - sci-fi and romance, poetry and biography, history and mystery - finding a focus for your group can be as difficult as deciding what to read. The New York Public Library Guide to Reading Groups by Rollene Saal and Paul LeClerc offers tips on how to focus your club, as well as advice on leadership styles and suggestions for compiling book lists. If all you need to get your club started is a little inspiration, try The Book Group Book by Ellen Slezak and Margaret Eleanor Atwood. A compilation of 47 essays that describe how various clubs, some of which have been meeting for decades, are organized, this volume showcases the strengths and weaknesses of each group. Insights are provided by members of successful clubs, along with more than three dozen reading lists.
BookPage's March reading group recommendations are listed below. We hope these titles, all newly published in paperback, will inspire lively discussion in your group.
A Conspiracy of Paper
By David Liss
This historical novel is set in the shadowy underworld of 18th century London, where Benjamin Weaver, a former boxer, makes his living by finding debtors and thieves for wealthy clients. When he is asked to look into the death of his own father, a successful stock trader, Weaver discovers a bizarre new economic order that leads him straight into danger. A tale of suspense and drama that tours London's gaming houses and bordellos, this historical thriller was a New York Times Notable Book for 2000. A reading group discussion guide is included in the text.
The Gates of the Alamo
By Stephen Harrigan
A captivating fictionalization of one of history's most dramatic moments, this book brims with violence, suspense and memorable characters, including Edmund McGowan, an ambitious botanist, and widow Mary Mott, an independent innkeeper who faces war with her teenage son Terrell. As the conflict unfolds in San Antonio, the trio's lives are irrevocably interwoven, resulting in tragedy and romance. Told from the viewpoint of both Mexicans and Americans, Harrigan's novel gives a broad view of this legendary event. A work of epic proportions - 577 pages - the book was a New York Times, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post and Publishers Weekly bestseller.
Give Me My Father's Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo
By Kenn Harper
This critically acclaimed history explores the life of Minik, one of six Eskimos brought back from the North Pole by Robert E. Peary in 1897. Taking them to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where they were placed on display for the general public, Peary relinquished all responsibility for the Eskimos, four of whom died in less than a year. Minik, a boy of six or seven, was soon orphaned in the city. Harper's well-researched, vivid account captures the cultural disconnection and bewilderment that characterized the boy's brief life in the booming metropolis. A reader's club guide is included in the book.
By Jayne Anne Phillips
Phillips tells the story of Kate, a free-spirited poet who enters a new marriage at the same time that her mother, Katherine, is weakened by cancer. As her condition worsens, Katherine moves in with the newlyweds, forcing Kate to become caretaker. Phillips' dramatic, moving novel skillfully juxtaposes life and death, love and loss, rendering the mother-daughter relationship in vivid detail while illuminating the meaning of family. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.vintagebooks.com.
Has your club recently read an excellent book that sparked good group discussion? If so, BookPage would like to hear about it. Contact us at [email protected] with a description of the book and the reasons for your recommendation. We'll pass the top choices along to our readers.