We know how difficult it is to choose a book for your next book group meeting, and to find enough copies for all the members of your group. We've made it easier for you by collecting donated and withdrawn copies of discussible books and putting all the copies in a canvas bag. We've included discussion questions and information about each author in a folder for each collection.
There are at least 8 copies of the book in each kit. At this time we have over 400 kits for you to choose from.
Printable lists of titles are also available, without cover art, sorted by title and by author.
How can we get a kit?
Call us at 608-266-6300 and we will help you check out a kit. The kit will be checked out on the library card of the person picking them up. The person checking out the kit may choose a due date for the kit, up to 3 months from the day they pick it up. Due to high demand, please take only one or two kits at a time. Kits can be shipped to any library in Madison as well as any public library in the South Central Library System.
What if a book is lost?
If your group happens to lose a book, we ask that you replace it with another copy of the book, new or second hand, that is clean and readable.
Search our collection of kits
Beryl Markham has grown up in the wilds of 1920s Kenya, raised by her British father and members of the local tribes. Her unlikely upbringing gives her a boldness that helps her become a pioneering aviator and author, as well as a deep appreciation for the beautiful and wild spirit of Africa. But affairs of the heart are a different matter, challenging even a woman as independent and strong as Markham.
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.
Lotto and Mathilde’s marriage seems charmed, beginning with a whirlwind romance and withstanding years of poor idealism to yield financial and artistic success. But every story has two sides, and Groff masterfully portrays a complex marriage, first from Lotto’s perspective and then a very different version from Mathilde’s point of view.
Rachel, whose life has spiraled into depression and alcoholism, becomes intrigued by a couple she dubs Jess and Jason who she spots from her commuter train every day. One day as she is passing their home, she sees Jess kissing a man who is not her husband. Shortly after, Jess disappears entirely. Told from the intersecting perspectives of Rachel, Jess and Anna, Jess’s neighbor, an intriguing thriller unfolds. But who is telling the truth?
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.
Sarah Grimke, a well-to-do daughter of antebellum Charleston receives a ten-year old slave girl, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimke, on her eleventh birthday. Both women know they are meant to do more in the wider world, and yearn to escape the respective paths of life they were born to. Over the course of their thirty-five year relationship, their destinies overlap and intertwine through slavery, freedom and the complexities of love, against the backdrop of the abolition and early women’s movements.
British naturalist Macdonald undertakes the training of a goshawk as a means of working through the grief at the sudden loss her father, himself a falconer.
In this National Book Award-nominated novel, a rag-tag group of traveling Shakespearean actors struggle to survive in a landscape that has been decimated by a global pandemic that wipes out 99% of the population. In flashbacks, members of the group recall their lives during the pandemic and what it took for them to survive, with some surprising connections.
Left for dead after an accident, astronaut Mark Watley is stranded on the surface of Mars. Left with only enough food and supplies for a few months, Watley has to rely on his wits and ingenuity to survive.
The Post family and friends embark on a celebratory two-week vacation in the island paradise of Mallorca. But humorous revelations of secrets and infidelities promise to turn their holiday into one they’ll never forget.
This is a graphic memoir by a New Yorker cartoonist, both hilarious and horrifying, in which she uses cartoons, hand-written text, and photographs to recount the story of her parents' last years and to explore her difficult relationship with them.
Blind Marie-Laure has escaped war-torn Paris for the French seaside town of Saint-Malo along with her father and a precious jewel, determined to keep it out of Nazi hands. German boy Gunther’s talent with radios makes him a valuable asset to the Nazi war effort, but he struggles to cope with the human cost of his intelligence. By the end of the war, the two children’s stories intertwine as they try to hold on to their humanity in Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller.
While modern medicine has developed breathtaking advances in the pursuit to extend life, the ability of doctors treat the realities of aging and dying often runs counter to the best interests of the patient. Surgeon Gawande examines the limitations of medicine at the end of life, and speaks with those in the profession who are turning ‘a good death’ into a quality life to the very end.
Opening up a vintage clothing shop in Madison has always been Violet’s dream, but making it a success is entirely different challenge. Teenager April is trying to recover from a broken engagement and the looming birth of her child. Amithi struggles with the betrayal of her husband and tension with her tradition-averse daughter. These different women connect over vintage cloth and learn to face down the upheavals of their lives to emerge stronger together.
This novel tells the story of five friends who grew up together in the fictional small town of Little Wing, Wisconsin: a famous musician, a wealthy commodities trader, a former rodeo star, and a married couple who stayed in the community as farmers.
A childhood Halloween prank with horrible consequences comes back to haunt a man and his family in this Madison-set thriller.
Ove has always lived his life according to strict principles, earning him the status of lead curmudgeon in his neighborhood. But when life threatens to overwhelm even the firmly stoic Ove, a comedic cast of characters comes to the rescue—and proves that help can come from the most surprising of sources.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need. One of his first clients was Walter McMillian, a man on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. Here Stevenson details the legal journey to McMillian’s release as well as those of others he’s helped in his now thirty year career.
Inspired by events in the life of anthropologist, Margaret Mead, this is the fictional story of a love triangle among three anthropologists working in New Guinea, who display three completely different approaches to studying other cultures.
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.
In Japan, a teenage girl is struggling-- and writing to a future anonymous reader about it in a diary. Ten years later the diary, along with letters in Japanese and French, wash ashore in a metal lunchbox on the coast of British Columbia. The woman who finds it sets out to identify the girl to see how she's fared in the intervening years.
Paroled after serving time for a crime he might not have committed, Brock Bookchester is back in his hometown of Words, Wisconsin. As he slowly tries to reconnect with family and friends, the residents of Words find that only by taking risks and making sacrifices can a community make one of its own whole again. Revisiting the world he created in Driftless, Rhodes creates a detailed, poignant portrait of those who call small towns home.
In August 1863, during Kit Carson's roundup of the Navajo, Santa Fe's Provost Marshal, Major Joseph Cummings, is found dead in an arroyo near what is now the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, Arizona. The murder, as well as the roughly million of today's dollars in cash and belongings in his saddlebags, is historically factual. Carson's explanation that he was shot by a lone Indian, which, even today, can be found in the U.S. Army Archives, is implausible. Who did kill Carson's ''brave and lamented'' Major?
On a snowy evening in 1910, Ursula Todd is born. And dies. And is born again. Fated to return to life over and over, Ursula witnesses pivotal events and eventually proves that one woman can change history.
Two brothers left their hometown in Maine to become New York City lawyers. One is now a hotshot corporate attorney, the other works for Legal Aid. When their sister in Maine needs help, both go back to assist—and secrets large and small are revealed.
In 1952, a poor Afghan father travels across the desert with his young son and daughter, about to make a decision that will have complex repercussions for years to come in this saga of family love, honor and sacrifice.
Envisioning a summer vacation in the humble Singapore home of a boy she hopes to marry, Chinese American Rachel Chu is unexpectedly introduced to a rich and scheming clan that strongly opposes their son's relationship with an American girl.
In this unconventional love story, scientist Don sets out to overcome his Asperger’s syndrome and find the Perfect Wife by concocting an exhaustive, mathematically precise questionnaire. And then he meets Rosie, who should be all wrong for him but for some reason seems just right.
The nine boys who made up the Olympic rowing team, sons of western loggers and hardworking laborers, may not have had the pedigree of the elite teams of the east, but they set out to prove themselves to the world at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Author Brown captures the struggles, including the Great Depression, poverty, and the loss of family, of a team that showed the nation what pulling together meant.
A young woman experiences racism for the first time after she leaves her native Nigeria, which is under oppressive military dictatorship, to attend college in the United States. Meanwhile, her boyfriend lives a miserable life in London as an illegal immigrant.
Madison author Wildgen tackles sibling rivalry and the cutthroat world of restaurants when brothers Britt, Leo and Harry open rival restaurants in a small town near Philadelphia.
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.
In Bulawayo’s semiautobiographical novel, young Darling describes her chaotic but still happy childhood during Zimbabwe’s strife-filled Lost Decade. In the second half of the novel, the teenage Darling reflects on the promises and failures of America after she emigrates to Destroyedmichigan (Detroit). A work that considers what one embraces in a new culture and what can’t be left behind, We Need New Names was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Award.
Shot in the head on her way home from her Pakistan school, Malala was targeted by the Taliban because she publicly advocated for girls education and attended school herself. In her book, Malala blends the politics and the personal into a story not just of what happened to her, but also the difficulties-- both politically and otherwise-- in Pakistan today. Chosen as UW-Madison's 2014 Go Big Read selection.
When her husband Brad returns from Iraq, Elise is thrilled to have him home. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered on duty has turned the patient, thoughtful man she married into someone quite different. Faced with potentially losing the man she loves, Elise receives help from an unlikely source.
In this literary novel, a 13-year-old-boy survives a terrorist explosion at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which kills his mother. He then finds himself the owner of a seventeenth century Dutch painting called “The Goldfinch,” and drawn into the dark and mysterious underworld of art dealing.
After witnessing a massive congregation of monarch butterflies, a young Tennessee farm wife sparks a debate between science and faith that leads her into a wider world than she knew before.
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.
A young Englishwoman, Louisa Clark finds herself unemployed when the restaurant she works in is closed. She takes a job as caretaker for Will Traynor, a recently paralyzed man, and throws herself into trying to convince him to stay alive, despite his losses.
This coming-of-age story centers on young Hayat Shah, a Pakistani-American living in Milwaukee. His family's dynamics, and their various levels of engagement with Islam, are at the center of the novel.
A dark and stormy night turns sinister when a nearby train wreck lands dozens of stranded travelers on the Torrington family and their decayed English manor on the occasion of twenty-year-old Emerald’s birthday dinner. By the end of the evening, class distinctions are muddled, an after-dinner game turns nasty, family skeletons are revealed and youngest daughter Smudge’s Great Undertaking comes to fruition. An odd and surprising romp set in a Downton Abbey-esque milieu, The Uninvited Guests takes many surprising twists to its unexpected end.
Dr. Dian Killian and Dr. Jane Marantz Connor offer a comprehensive and accessible introductory guide to exploring the concepts, applications, and transformative power of the Nonviolent Communication process.
Treuer, an Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist, answers the most commonly asked questions about American Indians, both historical and modern. He gives a frank, funny, and personal tour of what's up with Indians, anyway.
In this unconventional and funny novel, a teenage girl assembles a mixed collection of documents to try to solve the disappearance of her mother, a former award-winning architect who found herself increasingly at odds with her life in Seattle.
On the fifth anniversary of a seemingly ideal couple, wife Amy disappears and her husband Nick becomes the chief suspect. The novel alternates between Nick's point of view and Amy's (via her diary entries), engaging the reader in which version of events is accurate-- if any.
Yun Ling Teoh, a survivor of the brutal Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II, discovers a beautiful garden tended by the emperor’s exiled former gardener Aritomo. Haunted by the death of her sister during the war, Yun Ling asks Aritomo to help her build a garden in memory of her sister. But as she learns more about the garden’s intricacy and beauty, its connection to the pain and deceit of the past are also revealed.
As the slowing down of the earth's rotation portends a coming apocalypse, Julia also faces adolescent struggles with friendships, first love, and family problems in this combination coming-of-age and science fiction novel.
Anna Pigeon's first job as a National Park employee in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area basis for this book-- Barr's 17th in the series. The setting of the desert surrounding Lake Powell and the houseboat renting tourists that populate the park are central features of this story, which reveals a broken-hearted and widowed Anna just getting started on what we know to be a long career in solving crimes.