Book Discussion KitsBook Discussion Kit Home
Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Foundation are proud to offer book discussion kits.
Each kit includes 10 copies of a single title. Resources for book discussions may be found at publishers' websites, bound into some editions of the book, or at www.bookreporter.com or www.readinggroupguides.com (Download a printer friendly list of book kits.)
Edible History of Humanity, AnStandage, Tom
The bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses brilliantly charts how foods have transformed human culture through the ages. Throughout history, food has acted as a catalyst of social change, political organization, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict, and economic expansion. An Edible History of Humanity is a pithy, entertaining account of how a series of changes--caused, enabled, or influenced by food--has helped to shape and transform societies around the world. The first civilizations were built on barley and wheat in the Near East, millet and rice in Asia, corn and potatoes in the Americas. Why farming created a strictly ordered social hierarchy in contrast to the loose egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers is, as Tom Standage reveals, as interesting as the details of the complex cultures that emerged, eventually interconnected by commerce. Trade in exotic spices in particular spawned the age of exploration and the colonization of the New World. Food's influence over the course of history has been just as prevalent in modern times. In the late eighteenth century, Britain's solution to food shortages was to industrialize and import food rather than grow it. Food helped to determine the outcome of wars: Napoleon's rise and fall was intimately connected with his ability to feed his vast armies. In the twentieth century, Communist leaders employed food as an ideological weapon, resulting in the death by starvation of millions in the S oviet Union and China. And today the foods we choose in the supermarket connect us to global debates about trade, development, the environment, and the adoption of new technologies. Encompassing many fields, from genetics and archaeology to anthropology and economics--and invoking food as a special form of technology-- An Edible History of Humanity is a fully satisfying discourse on the sweep of human history.
Education of Augie Merasty, TheMerasty, Joseph Auguste
This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run schools, where they were subject to a policy of "aggressive assimilation." As Augie Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse. But even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty's sense of humour and warm voice shine through.
Egg and I, TheMacDonald, Betty
When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall—through chaos and catastrophe—this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor. A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on an American frontier.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineHoneyman, Gail
Eleanor Oliphant -- despite her social isolation and the rules she sets to survive weekends -- insists that she is just fine. But is she really? The gentle overtures of a coworker who accepts her as she is gets things rolling and gives her the emotional support she needs when a horrific (and embarrassing) event forces her to reevaluate her life. As it turns out, Eleanor Oliphant is absolutely not completely fine... but she will be. Though an emotional read, Eleanor's unique take on life offers plenty of humor. -- Description by Shauna Griffin.
Elegance of the Hedgehog, TheBarbery, Muriel
The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.
Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of An Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War IICroke, Vicki
At the onset of World War II, Williams formed Elephant Company and was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma and saving refugees, including on his own "Hannibal Trek." Billy Williams became a media sensation during the war, telling reporters that the elephants did more for him than he was ever able to do for them, but his story has since been forgotten. Part biography, part war story, and part wildlife adventure, Croke delivers an utterly charming narrative and an important, little-known piece of the legacy of World War II"-- Provided by publisher.
New York Time Notable
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
Elizabeth Is MissingHealey, Emma
In this darkly riveting debut novel--a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging--an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences. Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory--and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger. But no one will listen to Maud--not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth's mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.
Emergency, The: a year of healing and heartbreak in a Chicago ERFisher, Thomas
Thomas Fisher was raised on the South Side of Chicago and even as a kid understood how close death could feel -- he came from a family of pioneering doctors who believed in staying in the community, but on those streets he saw just how vulnerable Black bodies could be. Determined to follow his family's legacy, Fisher studied public health at Dartmouth and Harvard, then returned to the University of Chicago Medical School. As soon as he graduated, he began working in the ER that served his South Side community. Even as his career took him to stints at the White House, working on what would eventually become the Affordable Care Act and helping develop HMOs for under served communities, he never gave up his ER rotations. He knew that to really understand healthcare disparities and medical needs, you had to stay close. The emergency room is designed for the most urgent cases, but it is often the first resort for South Side residents without any other choice. Fisher deals with those patients with necessary dispatch, but what he really wants to do is to spend his time helping them understand how it is they ended up in the ER -- talk to them about the role economics plays in their health; the history of healthcare for the poor and marginalized; why Black people in particular distrust the medical profession; why they don't have a personal physician; the effect of food deserts and education gaps on their health; and, most of all, why they live in a society that has deemed their bodies and lives as less important than others. In this book he gets to have those lost conversations. This is the story of a dramatic year in the life of the Chicago ER -- a year of an unprecedented pandemic and a ferocious epidemic of homicides -- interwoven with the primer in healthcare one doctor wishes he could give his patients. Full of day-to-day drama, heartbreaking stories, compelling personal narrative, and penetrating analysis of our most fundamental failure as a society, this is a page-turning and mind-opening work that will offer readers a fresh vision of healthcare as a foundation of social justice.
Empathy Exams, TheJamison, Leslie
From personal loss to phantom diseases, a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 2014 Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain--real and imagined, her own and others'--Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory--from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration--in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
End of Your Life Book Club, TheSchwalbe, Will
"What are you reading?" That's the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less. This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a "book club" that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isnt the opposite of doing; its the opposite of dying. Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other- and rediscover their lives-through their favorite books. When they read, they arent a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Wills love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.
Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. HelensOlson, Steve
For months in early 1980, scientists, journalists, sightseers, and nearby residents listened anxiously to rumblings in Mount St. Helens, part of the chain of western volcanoes fueled by the 700-mile-long Cascadia fault. Still, no one was prepared when an immense eruption took the top off of the mountain and laid waste to hundreds of square miles of verdant forests in southwestern Washington State. The eruption was one of the largest in human history, deposited ash in eleven U.S. states and five Canadian providences, and caused more than one billion dollars in damage. It killed fifty-seven people, some as far as thirteen miles away from the volcano’s summit. Shedding new light on the cataclysm, author Steve Olson interweaves the history and science behind this event with page-turning accounts of what happened to those who lived and those who died.
Etta and Otto and Russell and JamesHooper, Emma
A gorgeous literary debut about unlikely heroes, lifelong promises, and last great adventures. Otto, The letter began, in blue ink, I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry, I've left you Yours (always), Etta. Otto finds the note left by his wife in the kitchen of their farmhouse in windswept Saskatchewan. Eighty-three-year-old Etta will be walking 3,200 kilometers to see the ocean, but somehow, Otto understands. He took his own journey once before, to fight in a faraway land. With Etta gone, Otto struggles with his demons of war, while their friend Russell initially pursues the woman he has loved from afar. And James-well, James you have to meet on the page. Moving from the hot and dry present of a quiet Canadian farm to a dusty, burnt past of hunger, war, and passion, from trying to remember to trying to forget, Etta and Otto and Russell and James is an astounding literary debut about friendship and love, hope and honor, and the romance of last-great-adventures.
From New England Book Award winner Lily King comes a breathtaking novel about three young anthropologists of the '30's caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying the Kiona river tribe in the Territory of New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brothers' deaths and increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when a chance encounter with colleagues, the controversial Nell Stone and her wry and mercurial Australian husband Fen, pulls him back from the brink.
Everything I Never Told YouNg, Celeste
Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue--in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American CityDesmond, Matthew
"In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality-- and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible." - from the publisher
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
National Book Critics Circle Award
Pulitzer Prize: General Nonfiction
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Exit WestHamid, Mohsin
"In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her." A love story in a time of violence. Achingly gorgeous prose begging the reader to slow down and savor while the slowly escalating tension urges faster reading. -SnoIsleLib_DeniseD
Man Booker Prize
Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, TheDugoni, Robert
Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God's idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls. Forty years later, Sam, a small-town eye doctor, is no longer certain anything was by design, especially not the tragedy that caused him to turn his back on his friends, his hometown, and the life he'd always known. Running from the pain, eyes closed, served little purpose. Now, as he looks back on his life, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him halfway around the world.