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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Art of Racing in the Rain, The

Stein, Garth

Meet Enzo, the unforgettable canine narrator of this bittersweet and transformative story of family, love, loyalty, and hope. Enzo is a philosopher with a nearly human soul, and he's gained a wealth of knowledge from hours spent in front of the TV.

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Animals Family Not so Grim Pacific Northwest Watch It Youth
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Bees, The

Paull, Laline

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

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Animals Science & Nature Sci-fi/Fantasy
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Being Mortal

Gawande, Atul

A prominent surgeon argues against modern medical practices that extend life at the expense of quality of life while isolating the dying, outlining suggestions for freer, more fulfilling approaches to death that enable more dignified and comfortable choices. A moving rumination of the limitations of science and the needs of loved ones.

Booklist Editors' Choice
Indies' Choice Book Awards
New York Times Notable Books
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Breath of A Whale, The

Calvez, Leigh

An exploration of the elusive lives of whales in the Pacific Ocean. Leigh Calvez has spent a dozen years researching, observing, and probing the lives of the giants of the deep.
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Crow Planet

Haupt, Lyanda Lynn

There are more crows now than ever. Their abundance is both a sign of ecological imbalance and a generous opportunity to connect with the animal world. CROW PLANET is a call to experience the wildlife in our midst, reminding us that we don't have to head to faraway places to encounter "nature." Even in the cities and suburbs where we live we are surrounded by wildlife such as crows. Through observing them we enhance our appreciation of the world's natural order, and find our own place in it. Haupt, a trained naturalist, uses science, scholarly research, myth, and personal observation to draw readers into the "crow stories" that unfold around us every day, culminating in book that transforms the way we experience our neighborhoods and our world.
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Dog Years

Doty, Mark

Dog Years is a remarkable work: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love. A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.
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Egg and I, The

MacDonald, 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.
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Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of An Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

Croke, 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

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Animals Awards Bio & Memoir History Not so Grim WWII
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Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Hooper, 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.

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Animals
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H is for Hawk

Macdonald, Helen

When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer-Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood-she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

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Animals Awards Bio & Memoir Family International Science & Nature
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Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel

Walls, Jeannette

A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.

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Animals Awards Family History
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Hearts of Horses, The

Gloss, Molly

An elegant, heartwarming story about the profound connections between people and animals In the winter of 1917, nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen saddles her horses and heads for a remote county in eastern Oregon, looking for work "gentling" wild horses. She chances on a rancher, George Bliss, who is willing to hire her on. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses, beneath her showy rodeo garb, a shy but strong-willed girl with a serious knowledge of horses. So begins the irresistible tale of a young but determined woman trying to make a go of it in a man's world. Over the course of several long, hard winter months, many of the townsfolk witness Martha talking in low, sweet tones to horses believed beyond repair--getting miraculous, almost immediate results. It's with this gift that she earns their respect, and a chance to make herself a home.

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Animals Coming of Age History Not so Grim
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Highest Tide

Lynch, Jim

One moonlit night, thirteen-year-old Miles OMalley slips out of his house, packs up his kayak and goes exploring on the flats of Puget Sound. But what begins as an ordinary hunt for starfish, snails, and clams is soon transformed by an astonishing sight: a beached giant squid.
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Lily and the Octopus

Rowley, Steven

Teddy is unhappily single in L.A. In between sessions with his therapist and dates with men he meets online, Teddy has debates with his dachshund, Lily, who occupies his heart. Unfortunately, he is also able to communicate with the "octopus" attached to Lily's head, which is soon revealed to be a metaphor for Lily's lethal cranial tumor. As Lily's condition worsens, Teddy faces off with the "octopus", engaging it in a battle of wills that takes on epic proportions. An exceedingly authentic, keenly insightful, funny and ardent tribute to the purity of love between a pet and its human. - adapted from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly.

Library Reads Favorite

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Animals Not so Grim
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Mink River

Doyle, Brian

Like Dylan Thomas'Under Milk Woodand Sherwood Anderson'sWinesburg, Ohio,Brian Doyle's stunning fiction debut brings a town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people.In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter...It's the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.

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Animals Awards Family History Pacific Northwest Society & Culture

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Part Wild

Terrill, Ceiridwen

An "introspective and lyrical" ( Booklist ) memoir about a woman and her wolfdog hybrid-a powerful combination of storytelling and science that is as informative as it is moving. When Ceiridwen Terrill adopts a wolfdog-part husky, part gray wolf- named Inyo to be her protector and fellow traveler, she is drawn to Inyo's spark of wildness and compelled by the great responsibility, even danger, that accompanies the allure of the wild.

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Animals Bio & Memoir Science & Nature
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Soul of an Octopus, The

Montgomery, Sy

Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” (Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

National Book Award Finalist
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
American Library Association Notables
Booklist Editor's Choice

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Animals Awards Not so Grim Science & Nature Youth
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Sound of A Wild Snail Eating, The

Bailey, Elisabeth Tova

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world. Told with wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.

John Burroughs Medal
William Saroyan International Prize
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Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, The

Stuart, Julia

When Balthazar Jones is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower of London's walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then his wife Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise "runs" away.

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Animals Family Not so Grim
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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
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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 Youth