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Book Club in a Bag Kits for Adults

 

Try our printer-friendly list of titles and authors to take to your book group meetings.

 
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler   
The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore, walked into his mother's grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.
 
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie    
First, there were ten--a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal--and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
 
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver  
The author and her family vowed that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2010.
 
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker    
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be...until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father's past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader's belief in the power of love to move mountains.
 
 
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein    
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope.
 
Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson
Veronika, a young writer from New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village as she tries to come to terms with a recent tragedy while also finishing a novel. Her arrival is silently observed by Astrid, an older, reclusive neighbor who slowly becomes a presence in Veronika's life, offering comfort in the form of companionship and lovingly prepared home-cooked meals. Set against a haunting Swedish landscape, Astrid & Veronika is a lyrical and meditative novel of love and loss, and a story that will remain with readers long after the characters' secrets are revealed.
 
Austenland by Shannon Hale    
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
 
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver      
Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.
 
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson    
Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love--all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
 
 
Bloodroot by Amy Greene   
Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain. Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike. But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart. Bloodroot is the dark and riveting story of the legacies-of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss-that haunt one family across the generations.
 
The Box Children by Sharon Wyse 
This is the story of a twelve-year-old girl living on a Texas wheat farm. Her only friends are the Box Children, five tiny dolls she has named after her lost siblings: babies her mother has miscarried. This summer, Lou Ann's mother is pregnant again, but Lou Ann can already sense that something is wrong. As her mother's grasp on reality slips away, she must rely on her own wit and courage to make sense of adolescence.
 
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 
Originally published in 1932, Huxley's terrifying vision of a controlled and emotionless future "Utopian" society is truly startling in its prediction of modern scientific and cultural phenomena, including test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse.
 
Bread Alone by Judith Hendricks
When her husband leaves her for another woman, Wynter Morrison moves to Seattle to start a new life and pursues her passion for breadmaking by accepting a position in a local bake shop, where she discovers the extraordinary healing power of making bread.
 
Brodeck by Philippe Claudel
When a stranger with unusual manners is murdered for his unflattering and insightful illustrations, a government report writer and concentration camp survivor writes an official, whitewashed account of the incident while secretly penning the truth in a parallel narrative.
 
Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
Septuagenarian Margaret Hughes is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. But as the two begin their tentative dance of friendship, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to Wanda. Along the way, a famous mosaic artist is born, a Holocaust survivor is reunited with her long-lost tea set, and a sad-eyed drifter finds his long-lost daughter.
 
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka  
The story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as "picture brides" nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war.
The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan
Prior to World War II, the Erhardts live in a storage room adjacent to the depot, but Lark's growing makes the room too small, and they have no money, because of Lark's father's drinking and gambling, to purchase a house.
 
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school.
 
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about war and the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity. In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbors waiting in a breadline. Then, in a flash, they are killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days, honoring their memory. A novel of great intensity and power, and inspired by a true story, The Cellist of Sarajevo poignantly explores how war can change one's definition of humanity, the effect of music on our emotional endurance, and how a romance with the rituals of daily life can itself be a form of resistance. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2014.
 
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith  
When war hero Leo Stepanovich Demidov, a rising star in the MGB, the State Security force, is assigned to look into the death of a child, Leo is annoyed, first because this takes him away from a more important case, but, more importantly, because the parents insist the child was murdered. In Stalinist Russia, there's no such thing as murder; the only criminals are those who are enemies of the state. After attempting to curb the violent excesses of his second-in-command, Leo is forced to investigate his own wife, the beautiful Raisa, who's suspected of being an Anglo-American sympathizer. Demoted and exiled from Moscow, Leo stumbles onto more evidence of the child killer.
 
Chosen By a Horse: A Memoir by Susan Richards      
When she agrees to take on the care of one of the abused horses just rescued by the local SPCA, a new chapter opens in Susan Richards's difficult life. She lost her mother at the age of five and was raised by uncaring relatives; married unhappily and divorced; and suffered from alcoholism. While Susan is trying to capture the horse assigned to her, Lay Me Down, a skeletal mare, walks into Susan's horse trailer of her own volition. Susan already owns one mare and two geldings-the diva-like Georgia, boyish Tempo and hopelessly romantic Hotshot-but it is with Lay Me Down that she forges a special, healing relationship that alters her life.
 
City of Thieves by David Benioff   
In this novel, a writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds.
 
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland     
Hoping to honor his father and the family business with innovative glass designs, Louis Comfort Tiffany launches the iconic Tiffany lamp as designed by women's division head Clara Driscoll, who struggles with the mass production of her creations. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2013.
 
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, this provocative version of the Cinderella tale tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Her path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister. Far more than a mere fairy-tale, this is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed--and love unveiled--in the most unexpected of places.
 
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
 
Cutting for Stone by A. Verghese   
Twin brothers born from a secret love affair between an Indian nun and a British surgeon in Addis Ababa, Marion and Shiva Stone come of age in an Ethiopia on the brink of revolution, where their love for the same woman drives them apart.
The Dance Boots  by Linda LeGarde Grover
This stirring collection of linked stories portrays an Ojibwe community struggling to follow traditional ways of life in the face of a relentlessly changing world. A cycle of boarding schools, alcoholism, and violence haunts these stories even as the characters find beauty and solace in their large extended families. With its attention to the Ojibwe language, customs, and history, this unique collection of riveting stories illuminates the very nature of storytelling. The Dance Boots narrates a century's evolution of Native Americans making choices and compromises, often dictated by a white majority, as they try to balance survival, tribal traditions, and obligations to future generations.
 
Defending Jacob by William Landay  
Andy Barber has been an ADA in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But after a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.
 
Devil in the White City by Eric Larson  
A gripping tale about two men -- one a creative genius, the other a mass murderer -- who turned the 1893 Chicago World's Fair into their playground. Set against the dazzle of a dream city whose technological marvels presaged the coming century, this real-life drama of good and evil unfolds with all the narrative tension of a fictional thriller.
 
Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray
Ruth loves to bake cakes. If there is a crisis, she bakes a cake; if there is a reason to celebrate, she bakes a cake. Ruth sees it as an outward manifestation of an inner need to nurture her family, which is a good thing when suddenly that family rapidly expands to include her estranged parents, two teenagers and a gainfully employed husband who is suddenly without a job.
 
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert   
Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights--the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry.
 
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery    
We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
 
Emma by Jane Austen   
Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances' love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.
 
Ethan Frome and Summer by Edith Wharton   
Edith Wharton herself drew many connections between her two novellas - Ethan Frome and Summer - which address the consequences of forbidden sexual passion and the tragedy of thwarted dreams.

The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
Grace Alban has spent more than twenty years avoiding her childhood home, the stately Alban House on the shores of Lake Superior, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother's unexpected death brings Grace and her teenage daughter back, she finds more is haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons. Long-buried family secrets, a packet of old love letters, and a lost manuscript plunge Grace into a decades-old mystery about a scandalous party at Alban House, when a world-famous author took his own life and Grace's aunt disappeared without a trace.

 
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
A sensual novel follows a woman as she returns to the French village where she lived as a girl during the German occupation.
 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley    
A monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator. Includes illustrated notes throughout the text explaining the historical background of the story. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2005.
 
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs  
Gathering for their weekly knitting club at a small yarn shop on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a group of friends shares such challenges as raising children, navigating the ups and downs of their careers, and pursuing uncertain relationships.
 
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok  
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.
 
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  
A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. It’s about the disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden . . . and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

Girls Like Us Fighting For a World Where Girls are Not For Sale: A Memoir by Rachel Lloyd   NEW
Rachel Lloyd’s riveting survivor story is the true tale of her hard-won escape from the commercial sex industry and her bold founding of GEMS, New York City’s Girls Education and Mentoring Service, to help countless other young girls escape "the life." Lloyd’s unflinchingly honest memoir is a powerful and unforgettable story of inhuman abuse, enduring hope, and the promise of redemption.

 
Good Grief by Lolly Winston  
Grieving over the death of her husband from cancer, thirty-six-year-old Sophie Stanton finds her personal and professional world in a shambles and, in an attempt to reinvent her life, moves to Ashland, Oregon.
 
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
A dashing, enigmatic millionaire is obsessed with an elusive, spoiled young woman. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2006.
 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer  
In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie   NEW
The lives of three characters are swept up in the turbulence of Biafra's impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s. 13-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor's beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna's twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.
 
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo  
When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed-a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back. Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery-and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born.
 
The Help by Kathryn Stockett   
Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.
 
Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow   
Homer and Langley Collyer are brothers-the one blind and deeply intuitive, the other damaged into madness, or perhaps greatness, by mustard gas in the Great War. They live as recluses in their once grand Fifth Avenue mansion, scavenging the city streets for things they think they can use, hoarding the daily newspapers as research for Langley’s proposed dateless newspaper whose reportage will be as prophecy. Yet the epic events of the century play out in the lives of the two brothers-wars, political movements, technological advances-and even though they want nothing more than to shut out the world, history seems to pass through their cluttered house in the persons of immigrants, prostitutes, society women, government agents, gangsters, jazz musicians . . . and their housebound lives are fraught with odyssean peril as they struggle to survive and create meaning for themselves.
 
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 
Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians—even those who are American born—targets for abuse. Because Henry's nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with and eventual love for Keiko a secret. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2011.
 
Ice Trap by Kitty Sewell      
At the height of his career, a British surgeon has found success in both the hospital and at home. He and his wife have everything they want out of life, except the child she longs for, the child Dr. Woodruff secretly believes he may never be ready to parent. Suddenly, the delicate equilibrium of their relationship is blown apart by the arrival of shocking news. Deep in the desolate sub-Arctic wilderness of Canada where Woodruff lived and worked years before, a woman claims he is the father of her thirteen-year-old twins. Woodruff knows it cannot be true -- but DNA tests don't lie.
 

 

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky 
Twenty six year old Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after spending several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by the society of St. Petersburg for his trusting nature and naiveté, he finds himself at the center of a struggle between a beautiful kept woman and a virtuous and pretty young girl, both of whom win his affection. Unfortunately, his very goodness precipitates disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power, and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a saint.


 
Immoral by Brian Freeman    
The disappearance of a teenage girl from the streets of Duluth, Minnesota draws Lieutenant Jonathan Stride into a conflict with evil as his search for a serial killer snares him in a web of secrets, lies, and illicit desire.
 
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot    
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells-taken without her knowledge in 1951-became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. A riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
 
In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien 
John and Kathy Wade, whose marriage has been built on mutual deception, visit a Minnesota lake to try to sort things out, a difficult process made more so by Kathy's sudden disappearence.
 
 
In the Woods by Tana French   
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox-his partner and closest friend-find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
Barry Laverty is the proud owner of a spanking-new medical degree and little else. He jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice. At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, who has his own way of doing things.  Through O’Reilly, Barry gets to know all of the village’s colorful residents who make every day an education for the young doctor. With pluck and compassion and only the slightest touch of blarney, he will find out more about life—and love—than he ever imagined back in medical school.

 
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger  
Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Embittered by his "former" status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago's South Side, there's not much that can shock him. But when the town's judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.
 
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 
Encompassing two generations and a rich blend of Chinese and American history, the story of four struggling, strong women also reveals their daughter's memories and feelings. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2007.
 
Keeping the House by Ellen Baker  
Lonely, restless, and bored with her life as a housewife in 1950s Pine Rapids, Wisconsin, Dolly Magnuson becomes fascinated by the abandoned grand old house on the hill overlooking the town and sets out to unravel the dark secrets of the family that had once owned it.
 
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
The unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: one the son of a prominent and wealthy man, the other, the son of a servant, is a member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them.
 
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier   
Interweaves historical fact with fiction to explore the mystery behind the creation of the remarkable Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, woven at the end of the fifteenth century, which today hang in the Cluny Museum in Paris.
 
 
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh    
A vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what's been missing in her life, and when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
 
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson  NEW
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original.
 
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper's son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman   NEW
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day's journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby's cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
 
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10  by Marcus Luttrell  
Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July, 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive. This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history.
 
The Long-shining Waters by Danielle Sosin
Lake Superior, the north country, the great fresh-water expanse. Frigid. Lethal. Wildly beautiful. Here are three stories whose characters are separated by centuries and circumstance, yet connected across time by a shared geography. In 1622, Grey Rabbit-an Ojibwe woman, a mother and wife-struggles to understand a dream-life that has taken on fearful dimensions. As she and her family confront the hardship of living near the "big water," her psyche and her world edge toward irreversible change. In 1902, Berit and Gunnar, a Norwegian fishing couple, also live on the lake. Berit is unable to conceive, and the lake anchors her isolated life, testing the limits of her endurance and spirit. And in 2000, when Nora, a seasoned bar owner, loses her job and is faced with an open-ended future, she is drawn reluctantly into a road trip around the great lake. As these narratives unfold and overlap with the mesmerizing rhythm of waves, a fourth mysterious character gradually comes into stark relief.
 
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan     
A fictionalization of the life of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. Despite the title, this is not a romance, but a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the restrictions of the early 20th century. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah's husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines when they left their families to live and travel together, going first to Germany, where Mamah found rewarding work doing scholarly translations of Swedish feminist Ellen Key's books. Frank and Mamah eventually settled in Wisconsin, where they were hounded by a scandal-hungry press, with tragic repercussions.
 
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson   
Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 
Louisa Clark has never been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a job working for Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living

 
The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox     
Convinced that he is destined for great wealth, power, and influence, Edward Glyver will do anything to reclaim a prize that is rightfully his, including a showdown with his rival, poet-criminal Phoebus Rainsford Daunt.
 
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever.
 
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides   
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . " So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal.
 
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich  
Reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity. Instantly acclaimed for its insight, humor, and passion, this book is changing the way the nation perceives its working poor.
 
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern    
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves , and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love--a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead
 
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult   
In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge. Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens -- until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town's residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever.
 
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe has opened Botswana's first and only detective agency staffed by women.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline  
Between 1854 and 1929, orphan trains ran regularly from the East Coast to the Midwest, carrying children whose fates would be determined by pure luck.  Vivian Daly was one such child. Returning east later in life, she leads a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic are vestiges of a turbulent past. Seventeen-year-old Molly knows that a community-service position helping Vivian clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as she helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that they aren't as different as they appear.
 
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 
Dorian Gray, a remarkably handsome young man, meets Lord Henry Wotton and is corrupted into a life of terrible evil that is reflected only in his portrait.
 
Plainsong by Kent Haruf    
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. From unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together -- their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.
 
Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry   
Here the local vigilante is a farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry grew up here, and now -- after a decade away -- he has returned. Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy. Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2009.
 
The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford      
This mysterious and richly evocative novel tells the story of portraitist Piero Piambo, who is offered a commission unlike any other. The client is Mrs. Charbuque, a wealthy and elusive woman who asks Piambo to paint her portrait, though with one bizarre twist: he may question her at length on any topic, but he may not, under any circumstances, see her. So begins an astonishing journey into Mrs. Charbuque's world and the world of 1893 New York society in this hypnotically compelling literary thriller.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it. Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...
 
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi  
This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream, and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, a small circle of seven young women gathered together every Thursday in secret at her home to read and discuss great books of Western literature. At first they were suspicious of one another, reticent and afraid to speak their minds. But soon they began to share their dreams and disappointments, as their stories entwined with those they were reading: The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, and Lolita -- their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella      
When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed. Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends
 
Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
 
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis   
A classic satire on human weakness features Screwtape, an elderly devil, who writes a series of letters to Wormwood, his apprentice and nephew.


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton  
During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy--her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy's ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy's past.

 
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
After her "stand-in mother," a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.
 
The Shack by William P. Young  
A grieving father receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him to meet in the Oregon wilderness where his daughter has been abducted and murdered. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?"
 
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon  
Barcelona, 1945 - Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written.
 
Some Assembly Required by Lynn Kiele Bonasia   
39-year-old Rose is content with her safe life: both her job writing manuals for appliances and her long-term boyfriend are reasonably satisfying. But when Mr. Almost Right betrays her, Rose decides there has to be more to it than writing succinct descriptions about how to use the timer on a Pause 'n Serve coffeemaker. Lured by the therapeutic promise of Cape Cod's sand, salt, and waves, Rose abandons her careful past and leaves the city far behind.Rose wants only to heal her broken heart. But with the help of a few eccentric neighbors, a fulfilling new job as the world's oldest cub reporter, and a compellingly odd new man, she comes to realize that her past is the furthest thing from her mind -- and she may just have stumbled upon her future happiness.
 
Still Life by Louise Penny     
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
 
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen   
Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she's a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother's house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night.... Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis--and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee's tough love, Josey's narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them--and who has a close connection to Josey's longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that's just for starters.
 
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf     
When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn--shy, quiet Brynn--who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.
 
They Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth      
Sofie and her husband have left Manhattan in search of a more tranquil life in the suburbs. But when a member of Sofie?s new neighborhood book club turns up dead, things get messy. She discovers that everybody has something to hide, including her own husband.
 
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield   
When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.
 
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with "the deathless man." But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her-the legend of the tiger's wife.
 
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  
The love story of Henry and Claire whose lives are punctuated by Henry's disappearance to different points in time--sometimes even back to visit Claire as a young woman. When Henry meets Claire, he is twenty-eight, andshe is twenty. He's a hip, handsome librarian; she is an art student withBotticelli hair. Henry has never met Claire before; Claire has known Henry since she was six...
 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Scout's father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town during the 1930s.
Duluth's One Book, One Community selection for 2002.
 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 
A young girl in a shabby neighborhood lives with dreams in an innocent time before the war.
 
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach   
In Amsterdam in the 1630s, a young wife escapes her stifling marriage to an older man into the arms of the artist who is hired to paint their portrait.
 
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
A nostalgic look back at the 1950s in a story of first love set in a small North Carolina town.
 
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen  
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's 90-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus. Jacob was there because his luck had run out. It was the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Surprising, poignant, and funny, this is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned.
 
Will to Murder: The True Story Behind the Crimes & Trials Surrounding the Glensheen Murders by Gail Feichtinger  
On June 27, 1977, an intruder entered a stately manor built along the Lake Superior shore. Before leaving with a basketful of stolen jewelry, the intruder used a satin pillow to smother Elisabeth Congdon, after killing the heiress's valiant nurse, Velma Pietila, by beating her with a candlestick -- crimes set in motion by a hastily hand-written will penned just days before the killings. For the first time the story of the Glensheen mansion killings and the crimes and trials surrounding Marjorie Caldwell Hagen, Elisabeth Congdon's notorious adopted daughter, is told.
 

Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama
Pei's peasant parents have her work in a silk factory to support them, and Pei finds strength from an older girl, Lin, as they begin to organize a union.

 

 
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker  
Joanie's ex-husband is having a baby with his new girlfriend. Joanie won't be having more babies, since she's decided never to have sex again. But she still has her teenaged daughter Caroline to care for. And thanks to the recession, her elderly mother Ivy as well. Her daughter can't seem to exist without texting, and her mother brags about "goggling,"-while Joanie, back in the workforce, is still trying to figure out her office computer. And how to fend off the advances of her coworker Bruce. Joanie, Caroline, and Ivy are stuck under the same roof, and it isn't easy. But sometimes they surprise each other-and themselves. And through their differences they learn that it is possible to undo the mistakes of the past.
 
Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis  
Losing a considerable amount of weight in her attempt to commit suicide, sixteen-year-old Faith Duckle returns to the school where she had been tormented, haunted by painful memories and working to exact retribution from those who hurt her.
 
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman   
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants: otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

 

The Book Club in a Bag project was begun with a generous gift from the Friends of the Duluth Public Library.

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