Book Club Kits by Title

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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The first in Italian author Ferrante’s four-book series, My Brilliant Friend introduces Lila and Elena, two girls growing up in the slums of 1950s Naples.   Bookish and quiet, Elena contrasts with her brash best friend Lila, whose path in life seems destined for marriage and motherhood in spite of her dreams of becoming a writer.  An acclaimed study of women’s friendship and the changing aspects of their lives, Ferrante masterfully captures the strengths and struggles of two extraordinary women. Book Discussion Questions from Europa Editions
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
As Lucy Barton recovers from an operation, her mother comes to visit her and the two reflect on Lucy’s life in small town Amgash, Illinois.  Yet under their conversation is a tension that hints at deeper aspects to Lucy’s life.  Book Discussion Questions from the author
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
In this humorous novel about a dysfunctional family, three siblings find that their reckless brother has drained the $2 million dollar bank account their father left them at his death, money they have all been planning to use to solve their own financial problems.  Book Discussion Questions from Harper Collins
The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Civil rights advocate and legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that a new permanent under-class has been created by the war on drugs and the denial of equal access to employment, housing, public benefits and education to ex-prisoners. Book Discussion Questions from ISO-Madison
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Le Cirque des Reves (The Dream Circus) appears unexpectedly on the outskirts of towns and treats its audiences to dazzling illusions. Danger lurks behind the scenes, however, as two powerful teachers have set up a duel-to-the-death between their two magician proteges. Book Discussion Questions from Random House
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This novel tells the story of two French sisters, one married with children, and the other a rebellious teenager, who struggle to survive the many hardships and abuses of German occupation during World War II, each finding her own path to resistance. Book Discussion Questions from the author
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
This is the first in a series of gentle mysteries. Precious Ramotswe operates in Botswana, running an agency where the solving of the ‘mystery’ is often secondary to the exploration of family, customs and alternate methods of justice. Book Discussion Guide from Random House
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
In Murakami’s poignant coming-of-age story, Toru, a college student in 1960s Japan, is devoted to Naoko, a thoughtful young woman who shares Toru’s sense of isolation and yearning for beauty.  But while Naoko struggles with the harsh realities of life, Toru discovers that he must make a choice between his love for her and the unknown possibilities of adulthood.  Book Discussion Questions from Reading Group Guides
Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss
Lyrical and spare essays explore race in America from a variety of angles -- some very unique.  A favorite selection for all-campus reads at several colleges and universities, Notes won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award.  Book Discussion Questions from Kansas Univ/Washington Univ.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
In this imaginative and poignant fairy tale, a man returns to his childhood home and reminisces of his otherworldly and terror-filled adventures of his youth. Book Discussion Questions from LitLovers
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
This ‘novel in stories,’ set in small town Maine, centers on Olive Kitteridge, a difficult-to-like retired teacher and her friends and acquaintances. Together they reveal their follies, foibles, difficulties and capacity for change. Book Discussion Questions from the author
One Day by David Nicholls
In a friendship of complete opposites Emma and Dexter meet once a year on the anniversary of their meeting in a humorous and moving story chronicling their relationships, families and careers. Book Discussion Questions from Lit Lovers
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This novel, first published in Latin America in 1967 and written in the style of magical realism, tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo, Colombia, and the family that founded it. Book Discussion Questions from LitLovers
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman
This memoir, which inspired a television series, was written by a middle-class college graduate who describes the thirteen months she spent in a federal prison for drug trafficking crimes she committed in her younger days. Book Discussion Questions from the author
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
In the summer of 1961, life in New Bremen, Minnesota moves slowly for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum.   The tragic death of a child in a train accident prompts old memories to resurface between the Drum and Brandt families, revealing the pain and dark shadows that lurked just under the surface of an idyllic life, and introducing Frank to the harsh realities of adulthood. Book Discussion Questions from Simon and Schuster
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
A troubled teenaged girl, who is helping an old woman organize her house, learns about the woman's early life as an Irish immigrant in New York City and in Minnesota, where she was sent at the age of nine, on an orphan train. Book Discussion Questions from HarperCollins
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Hadley Richardson’s marriage to Ernest Hemingway, then a young reporter, took her from small-town St. Louis to the glamour of Paris in the 1920’s. Based on letters, biographies, and memoirs, this is a fictional account of their marriage, told from Hadley's point of view. Book Discussion Questions from the author
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Frances Wray and her mother, formerly genteel but fallen on hard times and devastated by the toll of the Great War, offer a portion of their London house to rent.  A young lower-class couple, the Barbers, become the Wrays’ ‘paying guests.’  Drawn to the vivacious Mrs. Barber, Frances embarks on a relationship that quickly turns into something far more serious with unimagined repercussions. Book Discussion Questions from MPL
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Marijane’s years as a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution are the focus of this graphic novel. Satrapi’s style is minimalist; her young self is charming and defiant. Book Discussion Questions from Random House
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane continues her graphic novel memoir. As a teen she leaves war torn Iran for Vienna where she tries dating and recreational drugs. Readjustment to a patriarchal, fundamentalist society follows, as she returns to her homeland. Book Discussion Questions from Random House
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Set in a small town in the plains of Colorado, this novel tells the interrelated stories of eight characters whose lives undergo radical change during the course of one year. Book Discussion Questions from ReadingGroupGuides
Please Don't Come Back from the Moon by Dean Bakopoulos
In suburban Detroit the lives of teenage sons are dramatically altered after the fathers in their neighborhood disappear. Book Discussion Questions from Marshall Cook, UW
Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry
EMT and former nurse Perry moves back to his hometown - New Auburn, WI - after years away.  His stories about his emergency calls are compelling and his ruminations on small town life unique. Book Discussion Questions from ReadingGroupGuides
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Interwoven stories of three American women at the start of World War II: a single 40-year old postmistress in a small town on Cape Cod,  a newlywed new to the town, and a reporter in London working under Edward R. Morrow. Book Discussion Questions from ReadingGroupGuides
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Austen's classic of social manners follows Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they try to achieve married bliss, in spite of bad first impressions and meddling families.  Book Discussion Questions from the Madison, Wisconsin Chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA)