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 www.bookreporter.com or www.readinggroupguides.com (Download a printer friendly list of book kits.)

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Abundance, The

Majmudar, Amit

"Mala and Ronak are surprisingly less comfortable with their dual Indian and American roots than their parents, part of an immigrant community that has happily embraced the New World. Told that their mother is about to die, they return home to the Midwest, where Mala persuades Ronak that they should immerse themselves in Indian culture by learning to cook their mother's favorite recipes. Then Ronak hits upon the idea of capturing their experience in book and film, and all hell breaks loose."--Library Journal.

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Family Food Society & Culture Underrepresented Authors
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Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Kimmerer, Robin Wall

Professor and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer shares memories of her past mixed with legends from her Potawatomi ancestors in this engaging and meditative collection of essays that invites readers to express gratitude for everyday gifts.
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Edible History of Humanity, An

Standage, 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.

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Food History Not so Grim Society & Culture
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History of the World in 6 Glasses, A

Standage, Tom

From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period. A History of the World in 6 Glassestells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

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Food History Short (less than 250 pages) Society & Culture
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Hundred Foot Journey, The

Morais, Richard

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Juliet Blake, DreamWorks Studios, and Participant Media. "That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist." And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais's charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey . Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste. Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais -that of the famous chef Madame Mallory-and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages-charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.

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Coming of Age Family Food Society & Culture Watch It
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Hunger

Gay, Roxane

"Gay has written ... about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as 'wildly undisciplined,' Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care"--Amazon.com.

  • ALA Notable
  • Booklist Editors' Choice
  • Lambda Literary Award
  • Library Journal Top Ten
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    John Saturnall's Feast

    Norfolk, Lawrence

    A beautiful, rich and sensuous historical novel, John Saturnall's Feast tells the story of a young orphan who becomes a kitchen boy at a manor house, and rises through the ranks to become the greatest Cook of his generation. It is a story of food, star-crossed lovers, ancient myths and one boy's rise from outcast to hero. Orphaned when his mother dies of starvation, having been cast out of her village as a witch, John is taken in at the kitchens at Buckland Manor, where he quickly rises from kitchen-boy to Cook, and is known for his uniquely keen palate and natural cooking ability. However, he quickly gets on the wrong side of Lady Lucretia, the aristocratic daughter of the Lord of the Manor. In order to inherit the estate, Lucretia must wed, but her fiancé is an arrogant buffoon. When Lucretia takes on a vow of hunger until her father calls off her engagement to her insipid husband-to-be, it falls to John to try to cook her delicious foods that might tempt her to break her fast. Reminiscent of Wolf Hall and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell , John Saturnall's Feast is a brilliant work and a delight for all the senses.

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    Food History
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    Life from Scratch

    Martin, Sasha

    It was a culinary journey like no other: Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook--and eat--a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother to a string of foster homes to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Martin's heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal--and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

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    Awards Bio & Memoir Family Food International Not so Grim
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    One Summer

    Bryson, Bill

    Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America's story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.

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    Food History Not so Grim Society & Culture
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    Pomegranate Soup

    Mehran, Marsha

    To the Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of "crazed sheep and dizzying roads," they might finally find a home. From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets - an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Cafe, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern.
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    Provence 1970

    Barr, Luke

    Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today's tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters--some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew.

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    Family Food History International Society & Culture
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    Telling Room, The: A Story of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

    Paterniti, Michael

    "Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship, and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while also holding a mirror up to the world, fully alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us. In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as "the telling room." Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets--usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. Rather than the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined, Paterniti is sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing," Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief.

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    Bio & Memoir Food International
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    Vegetarian, The

    Kang, Han

    Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams--invasive images of blood and brutality--torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It's a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that's become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

    Man Booker International Prize
    New York Times Notable Books