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 We've made it easier for you by collecting donated and withdrawn copies of discussible books and putting all the copies in a canvas bag.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
Cutting for Stone
The Strength in What Remains
Escaping from civil war and genocide in his home country of Burundi, Deogratias, a young medical student, comes to New York city with $200. Despite facing many obstacles, Deo becomes an Ivy League student and eventually goes back to Burundi to found a public health clinic.
A Gate at the Stairs
In this pre- and post-9/11 novel Tassie, a student at thinly veiled UW-Madison, hires on as a nanny for the owner of a pricey French restaurant who adopts a mixed-race child.
Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A chance discovery of items left behind by Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during World War II causes Henry Lee, a Chinese-American and recent widower, to reflect on his first romance with Keiko, which ended when her family was evacuated.
In 1950s Ireland, when Ellis Lacey is unable to find a job in her home country, she leaves reluctantly for Brooklyn, NY. After a period of isolation she begins to find happiness, yet when a tragedy takes her back to Ireland the limitations of her old life conflict with her newfound possibilities in America.
In 1960s Jackson, Mississippi aspiring author Skeeter, who is white, gains the trust of some of the town's black maids and departs from her newspaper advice column assignment to secretly write a book from their point of view about being 'the help.'
The story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is told through the experiences of Zeitoun, a Syrian-American and Muslim who stays in New Orleans to watch over his home and business. He helps rescue his neighbors, but is later arrested and imprisoned.
That Old Cape Magic
Cape Cod is the home of memories good and bad for Jack Griffin. When he returns there post-divorce for his daughter’s wedding, comedy and pathos join forces to create a memorable event.
The Happiness Project: or, the Way I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right...
A chronicle of the author's year long quest to find happiness through testing ideas from age old wisdom, popular culture, and current scientific research.
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
A fictionalized biography of the author's grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who was a mustang breaker, school teacher, bootlegger, poker player, racehorse rider, bush pilot, ranch wife and mother.
A Reliable Wife
A gothic tale set in 1907 Wisconsin told from two viewpoints: Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman who advertises for a wife for practical reasons, and Catherine Land, a beauty hungry for riches, posing as a dowdy daughter of a missionary.
Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting
Funny, humble and pensive—Michael’s life is changing as he’s pulled in different directions all at once.
Harrison William Shephard, whose father is American and mother is Mexican, lives in Mexico in the 1930s with Diego Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo, and their houseguest Leon Trotsky.
The personal costs of slavery are explored in this novel of 4 abandoned women together on a farm in upstate New York.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
A novel in letters about the WWII German occupation of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between France and England. An often sweet and funny book, with tinges of sadness.
The Art of Racing in the Rain
A tale of love, loyalty, child custody, death and betrayal with parallels to the sport of auto racing... narrated by a dog.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Narrated with humor, suspense, and empathy, a diverse cast of characters in small town in Wisconsin get entangled in family secrets, legal battles with a corrupt milk cooperative, gambling, dogfighting, and a miracle cure, amongst other things.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Sedaris returns with comic essays employing keen observation, absurdity and hilarity to explore everyday life from smoking to family dysfunction and death.
Echoes from the Dead
In this debut novel, a runaway bestseller in Sweden, a mother, drawn by a mysterious clue back to the island where her 6-year-old son Jens disappeared 20 years ago, is determined to find out what really happened that gray September day. In the process, she finds a shocking connection to Öland's most notorious murder case: the killing spree of a wealthy young man who fled the island and died years before Jens was even born.
Belong to Me
The intertwined stories of three women in suburban Philadelphia: newly arrived Cornelia searching for a new life; judgmental, perfectionist Piper struggling with her best friend's cancer; and elusive, free-spirited Lake.
An Iraqi-American is the chef at a small Los Angeles café, where Arab-Americans come to feel at home. A folkloric family story is interwoven with this contemporary tale of love, food and home.
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.
Journalist Lopez befriends a schizophrenic former Juilliard student playing a battered violin beside a shopping cart of belongings in L.A. Chosen by Porchlight as their Madison Cares community read. The full title is The Soloist: a Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music.
Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat
A cat found in the book return at a small town Iowa library became a library resident and enchanted customers for nearly 20 years with his winsome personality.
Change of Heart
Death row prisoner seeks atonement through donation of his heart to his victim's sister.
Lillian Leyb, survivor of a Russian massacre, immigrates to New York in 1924. Upon learning her 3-year-old daughter may still be alive, she journeys across North America through the Yukon wilderness and over the Bering Strait to find her.
Perry Crandall (IQ 76) narrates his life after the death of his Gran, who raised him after his parents abandoned him. When he wins a $12 million lottery, his avaricious family schemes to appropriate his prize.
A fictionalized portrayal of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, her love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright, and the scandal it created.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Kingsolver and her family eat only local food for a year, including home-raised turkeys and chickens and garden grown and canned veggies.
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
The story of Jan Zabinsky, the director of the Warsaw zoo, and his wife Antonina, who sheltered 300 Jews and Polish resisters in the zoo's cages and sheds during WWII.
Adoption, race, class, and family are explored in this novel about three brothers and their widowed father.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
A humorous, gritty, autobiographical novel of a budding cartoonist, who leaves his troubled school on a Spokane Indian reservation to attend an all-white town school.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Sweet ghetto nerd Oscar dreams of being a famous writer… and of falling in love. He may not get either wish, due to a curse that’s dominated his Dominican family for generations. A Pulitzer Prize winner.
The World Without Us
A ‘fantasy’ nonfiction book by a science writer that explores what would happen to the earth’s flora and fauna, as well as our built environment, if suddenly all humans disappeared.
The Double Bind
A literary thriller with a tricky, intriguing premise and a fictional backdrop from The Great Gatsby begins with the attempted rape and murder of a young woman bicyclist on a rural Vermont road and involves the mysterious past of a homeless man.
The Glass Devil
A police procedural mystery set in Sweden, where Inspector Huss solves violent crimes, yet manages a happy home life including teenage twin daughters and a husband.
For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance
In a series of essays, women writers of all ages discuss the impact of time and illness on their bodies and the process of taking control of their body image.
Call Me By Your Name
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them.
A Honduran young man rides the tops of trains through Mexico to the U.S. to reunite with his mother as chronicled by Pulitzer Prize winning author Nazario. From his family’s life of poverty in Honduras to life-risking attempts to cross the border to political realities in Mexico and the U.S., this highly engaging work is sure to challenge some of our beliefs about immigration. Chosen as UW's 2011 Go Big Read selection.
The Book Thief
Narrated by Death, this novel for adults and teens tells the story of Liesl Memeinger, a German girl living through the Holocaust who finds strength and wisdom in the books she steals.
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
This nonfiction book is a compelling history of the American Dust Bowl of the 1930's, showing how years of heat and drought combined with the destruction of native prairie to cause terrible destruction to the land and misery to the farmers in Oklahoma.
Rise and Shine
While her mic is accidentally on, morning talk show host Meghan calls a guest a vulgar name on national television. Her entire world changes, including her career and relationships with her husband, grown son and social worker sister.
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is traced through the personal histories of two who occupied the same house at separate times: Dalia, a woman whose family of Bulgarian Jews immigrated to Israel in 1948, and Bashir, a man whose family was driven out of Palestine.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Bryson's own childhood in 1950s America is the focus this time.
A Spot of Bother
In this darkly comic novel, the family patriarch mistakenly believes he is dying of cancer (it’s really eczema) while his wife and grown children swirl around him getting ready for a wedding.
Digging to America
A humorous exploration of personal relations and cultural clashes between two families. The traditional American Donaldsons and the Iranian-American Yazdans adopt Korean girls at the same time, with different plans and parenting styles.
The Virgin of Small Plains
The discovery of the naked frozen body of a beautiful teenage girl during a 1987 Kansas blizzard and the subsequent disappearance of the son of a judge begin this novel with surprising twists and a convincing portrait of small town life.
Water for Elephants
90+ year-old Jacob Jankowski reminisces in a nursing home about his days caring for animals in a travelling circus during the Great Depression.
Truck: A Love Story
The author chronicles a year spent restoring an old pickup, gardening, and falling in love. This memoir is filled with eccentric characters, keen observation, and humorous storytelling.
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
A candid, wry, amusing collection of essays on women getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests---and life itself.
This traditional mystery begins with the finding of the body of Jane Neal, a retired school teacher and talented amateur artist in the woods near a small Quebec village, the apparent victim of a tragic hunting accident.
The Hungry Tide
An Indian-American researcher arrives in a remote area of India to study the freshwater dolphins and meets two very different men, each important to her work and life there.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
The story of Lily Yi and Snow Flower, intimate friends who used a secret written language to correspond, and how they were brought together and torn apart by their letters in 19th century rural China.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
Walls recalls growing up in a dysfunctional yet creative family with a brilliant, charismatic father, who was destructive and dishonest when he drank, and a free-spirited artist mother, who hated domesticity and the responsibility of raising a family.
Have Mercy on Us All
In this detective novel/biothriller French medievalist and archaeologist author Fred Vargas combines historical cryptology, the history of the plague and street life in modern day Paris.
The Inheritance of Loss
Winner of the Booker Prize, this novel has two story threads: a granddaughter in the Himalayan foothills fall in love with her tutor, and an immigrant from the same place tries to make it in NYC.
Broken for You
A septuagenarian invites a young woman to live in her mansion while both heal from their troubled pasts.