Book Discussion Kits

Book 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 or (Download a printer friendly list of book kits.)

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Wanderers, The

Howrey, Meg

A private space exploration company is mounting a manned mission to Mars. To prepare for the actual event, the company plans an elaborate training program to match the conditions and potential problems the team might face. The ordeal, though simulated, is no less dramatic for the astronauts, their families, and the crew. The lines cross between fiction and reality and none of the participants is left unchanged. Part literary fiction, part sci-fi, all amazing. -- Marie Byars

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Science & Nature
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Wangs Vs. the World, The

Chang, Jade

A wealthy but dysfunctional Chinese immigrant family has it all, only to lose every last cent. Mad at America, Wang, a brash but lovable immigrant businessman takes his family on a cross-country road trip that, despite a few harrowing twists and turns, eventually brings them back together again. Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America--and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could. -From the publisher

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Coming of Age Family Dynamics Not so Grim
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Ondaatje, Michael

Two siblings are abandoned by their parents, left in the care of mysterious guardians who operate in the dark and the murk. They look for answers where none are forthcoming. In the aftermath of the London Blitz, the city struggles to rebuild itself, one relationship at a time. Written with spare prose, Ondaatje’s story prompts readers to wonder the best way to protect a child when understanding may put them in greater danger.

Man Booker Prize Longlist
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee
Walter Scott Prize Longlist

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Warmth of Other Suns, The

Wilkerson, Isabel

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.
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Washington Black

Edugyan, Esi

Told with nuanced prose, this is a searing, unforgettable novel following a young slave on a strange and fascinating adventure.

Scotiabank Giller Prize
ALA Notable
New York Times Notable

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Coming of Age Historical Underrepresented Authors
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Water Dancer, The

Coates, Ta-Nehisi

A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery. Book Club: Oprah's Book Club (Nov 2019) Award winner: ALA Notable Books - Fiction: 2020 BCALA Literary Award: First Novelist Category LibraryReads Favorites: 2019 Loan Stars Favourites: 2019

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Awards Historical Society & Culture Underrepresented Authors
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler, Karen Joy

Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.

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Animals Awards Coming of Age Family Dynamics Young Adult
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We Are Water

Lamb, Wally

After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success. Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora's box of toxic secrets--dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives. We Are Water is an intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art. With humor and breathtaking compassion, Wally Lamb captures the essence of human experience in vivid and unforgettable characters struggling to find hope and redemption in the aftermath of trauma and loss.

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Family Dynamics LGBTQIA+
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We Should All Be Feminists

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay--adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name--Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author's exploration of what it means to be a woman now--and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Amelia Bloomer List

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Wealth of Nature, The

Greer, John Michael

John Michael Greer has re-thought economics, starting from its fundamental premises, giving it a basis in ecological reality rather than political fiction... The result is perhaps the most important and readable book on economics since Small Is Beautiful. Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth

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Society & Culture
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Weight of Blood, The

McHugh, Laura

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy's family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family's influence, Lucy--darkly beautiful as her mother was--is always thought of by those around her as her mother's daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls--the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save--and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death.

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Awards Crime Family Dynamics Young Adult
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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

Braverman, Blair

"A revelatory memoir of the author's efforts to develop the strength and resilience to survive in the demanding landscapes of Norway and Alaska describes her physically exhausting survival endeavors on a ruthless arctic tundra marked by violent natural and human threats. A memoir of arctic adventure that goes deeper into self-discovery and finding a home. It's what happens internally that both sets this memoir apart and gives it universal resonance. Indelible characters, adventurous spirit, and acute psychological insight combine in this multilayered debut.-- from NoveList & Kirkus Reviews.

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Bio & Memoir Society & Culture

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West with Giraffes

Rutledge, Lynda

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave. It's 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California's first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world's first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes. Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it's too late.

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Animals Historical Not so Grim Science & Nature
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What Alice Forgot

Moriarty, Liane

What would happen if you were visited by your younger self, and got a chance for a do-over? Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn't sure she likes who she's become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

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Family Dynamics International Not so Grim Young Adult
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What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in An American City

Hanna-Attisha, Mona

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was a pediatrician in Flint, Michigan who noticed that something was wrong with the water in her city. There was plenty of circumstantial evidence of a mounting health crisis, but there was no proof. When she announced her conclusion that city drinking water was the source, city officials challenged her data and her credibility. This 2018 book is a firsthand account of the Flint water crisis, Hanna-Attisha's research into its origins and effects, and the ongoing struggle of Flint advocates to secure clean water. In it, Hanna-Attisha personalizes the crisis by telling the stories of her patients: Flint's children and their parents.

New York Times Notable
NPR's Best Science Book

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When the Emperor was Divine

Otsuka, Julie

Otsuka's commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any previously written--a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times.
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When They Call You A Terrorist: a black lives matter memoir

Patrisse Khan-Cullors

"A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free."

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Bio & Memoir Social Justice Underrepresented Authors
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When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky

Verble, Margaret

A deliciously strange and daringly original novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble: set in 1926 Nashville, it follows a death-defying young Cherokee horse-diver who, with her companions from the Glendale Park Zoo, must get to the bottom of a mystery that spans centuries. Two Feathers, a young Cherokee horse-diver on loan to Glendale Park Zoo from a Wild West show, is determined to find her own way in the world. Two's closest friend at Glendale is Hank Crawford, who loves horses almost as much as she does. He is part of a high-achieving, land-owning Black family. Neither Two nor Hank fit easily into the highly segregated society of 1920s Nashville. When disaster strikes during one of Two's shows, strange things start to happen at the park. Vestiges of the ancient past begin to surface, apparitions appear, and then the hippo falls mysteriously ill. At the same time, Two dodges her unsettling, lurking admirer and bonds with Clive, Glendale's zookeeper and a World War I veteran, who is haunted--literally--by horrific memories of war. To get to the bottom of it, an eclectic cast of park performers, employees, and even the wealthy stakeholders must come together, making When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky an unforgettable and irresistible tale of exotic animals, lingering spirits, and unexpected friendship.
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When Women Were Dragons

Barnhill, Kelly

In the first adult novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Ogress and The Orphans, Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden. In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.
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Where Women Are Kings

Watson, Christie

From the award-winning author of Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away , the story of a young boy who believes two things: that his Nigerian birth mother loves him like the world has never known love, and that he is a wizard. Elijah, seven years old, is covered in scars and has a history of disruptive behavior. Taken away from his birth mother, a Nigerian immigrant in England, Elijah is moved from one foster parent to the next before finding a home with Nikki and her husband, Obi. Nikki believes that she and Obi are strong enough to accept Elijah's difficulties--and that being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. They care deeply for Elijah and, in spite of his demons, he begins to settle into this loving family. But as Nikki and Obi learn more about their child's tragic past, they face challenges that threaten to rock the fragile peace they've established, challenges that could prove disastrous.
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Semple, Maria

When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

Alex Award

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While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and A Young Man's Descent Into Madness

Sanders, Eli

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter describes our failing mental-health system through the story of Isaiah Kalebu, who invaded the home of an engaged Seattle couple. In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country--as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change"-- Provided by publisher.

Edgar Award Nominee for Best Fact Crime

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Crime Pacific Northwest Social Justice Society & Culture
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Whistling Season

Doig, Ivan

"Can't cook but doesn't bite." So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition" that draws the attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. That unforgettable season deposits the ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch--a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom. When the schoolmarm runs off with an itinerant preacher, Morris is pressed into service, setting the stage for the "several kinds of education"--none of them of the textbook variety--Morris and Rose will bring to Oliver, his three sons, and the rambunctious students in the region's one-room schoolhouse. A paean to a way of life that has long since vanished, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best.

ALA Notable Book
Alex Award
Booklist Editors' Choice
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White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche

Krist, Gary

In February 1910, a monstrous blizzard centered on Washington State hit the Northwest, breaking records. Near the tiny town of Wellington, high in the Cascade Mountains, two trainloads of cold, hungry passengers and their crews found their railcars gradually being buried int eh rising drifts. For days, an army of railroad employees worked to rescue the trains. Panic and rage set in as snow accumulated on the cliffs overhanging the trains. Finally, just when escape seemed possible, the earth shifted and an avalanche tumbed from the high pinnacles. Donated by the East County Senior Center.

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Historical Pacific Northwest Science & Nature
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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

DiAngelo, Robin J.

"In this groundbreaking and timely book, antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively." -- Publisher's description.

Regional Author

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Short (less than 250 pages) Social Justice Society & Culture
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White Houses

Bloom, Amy

"Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life."--Provided by Publisher.

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Awards Historical LGBTQIA+ Short (less than 250 pages)
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White Oleander: A Novel

Fitch, Janet

Thirteen year old Astrid is the only child of Ingrid, a single mother and brilliant, obsessive poet. When Ingrid murders her ex lover and is sentenced to life in prison, Astrid is forced into Los Angeles' foster care system. The results are harrowing. Each foster home is its own universe with a new set of laws, dangers, and painful lessons to be learned.
When Ingrid, (now poet-in-prison) becomes a feminist icon, she gains a chance at freedom--if Astrid will agree to testify untruthfully at the trial.
White Oleander details the unforgettable story of Astrid's journey navigating the challenges of loneliness, poverty, and society's indifference towards motherless children. With grit and humor, Astrid's determination to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances is compelling, heart wrenching, and inspiring.

Oprah's Book Club Pick

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Coming of Age Family Dynamics Watch It
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White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

Anderson, Carol

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as 'black rage,' historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, "white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames," she writes, "everyone had ignored the kindling." Carefully linking historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage. Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America.-- From the publisher.

National Book Critics Circle Award
New York Times Notable Books
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Widower's Tale, The

Glass, Julia

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.

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Family Dynamics Not so Grim
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Wind Is Not A River, The

Payton, Brian

A gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife - separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil - fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands. While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the Birthplace of Winds." There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese. Alone in their home in Seattle, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Forced to re-imagine who she is and what she is capable of, she plots to find John and bring him home; a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows. A powerful, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.

2016 Whidbey Reads Selection
LibraryReads Favorite

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Historical Pacific Northwest WWII
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Without You There Is No Us

Kim, Suki

Every day, three times a day, the students march in two straight lines, singing praises to Kim Jong-il and North Korea: Without you, there is no motherland. Without you, there is no us. It is a chilling scene, but gradually Suki Kim, too, learns the tune and, without noticing, begins to hum it. It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields--except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki has gone undercover as a missionary and a teacher. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them English, all under the watchful eye of the regime.

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Bio & Memoir International Politics
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Wolf Hall

Mantel, Hilary

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII's court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king's favor and ascend to the heights of political power. England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him...In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Baileys Women's Prize
National Book Critics Circle Award
Man Booker Prize

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Awards Historical Watch It
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Woman in the Library, The

Gentill, Sulari

The beautifully ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is completely silent one weekday morning, until a woman's terrified scream echoes through the room. Security guards immediately appear and instruct everyone inside to stay put until they determine there is no threat. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers who had been sitting in the reading room get to chatting and quickly become friendly. Harriet, Marigold, Whit, and Caine each have their own reasons for being in the reading room that morning--and it just happens that one of them may turn out to be a murderer.

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Books About Books Crime
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Woman of No Importance, A: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII

Purnell, Sonia

Traces the story of mid-twentieth-century spy Virginia Hall, detailing her pivotal role in coordinating Resistance activities in Europe that helped change the course of World War II. Award winner: Plutarch Award for Best Biography

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Awards Bio & Memoir Historical WWII
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Women in the Castle, The

Shattuck, Jessica

"Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold. Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined..."-- Provided by publisher.

Donated by the Edmonds Lutheran Book Club in remembrance of friend and fellow book lover, Betty Neidhardt.

Booklist Editors' Choice
LibraryReads' Favorite
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee

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Awards Historical International WWII
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Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

Egan, Timothy

The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before. In The Worst Hard Time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Timothy Egan tells the epic story of this environmental disaster and its impact on the communities stricken with fear and choked by dust in the 'dirty thirties'.

Donated by the Mukilteo Library Evening Book Club in honor of Sheila Nesse on her retirement.

National Book Award
Western Heritage Award

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Awards Historical Young Adult