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Great Group Reads

National Reading Group Month Selects
Great Group Reads

2018 Selections

America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
As Wide as the Sky by Jessica Pack
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
In the Distance by Hernan Diaz
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
The Lido by Libby Page
Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust to Hope, My True Story by Irene H. Butter with John D. Bidwell and Kris Holloway
Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis
The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict


Great Group Reads Selections 2018 Tabletop (PDF)

National Reading Group Month Marketing Toolkit


America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
(William Morrow, HC 978-0062668752)
Having acquiesced with her overbearing husband’s decision to disown their only son when he came out as gay, Pival, a newly widowed Indian woman, is finally released from that agreement, allowing her to travel to America and search out answers about her beloved child, the love and life he found so far from home, and his untimely death.

More about: William Morrow, America for Beginners

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As Wide as the Sky by Jessica Pack
(Kensington, TP 978-1496718167)
After her son’s execution for a mass shooting, Amanda must find a way to reconnect with her daughter and to move forward in the world still grappling with the question of how her sweet boy could have become the person who would commit such an atrocity. Tackling issues of schizophrenia, the media, forgiveness, and healing, this is an unfortunately timely and important look at the long-term aftermath of a horrific crime from several different perspectives, mother Amanda, Robbie himself, and friends and family of the victims.

More about: Kensington, As Wide as the Sky

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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
(St. Martin’s Press, HC 978-1250112040)
This is a magical novel about Weylyn Grey, a man with extraordinary powers connecting him to animals and nature. Rich and wonderful, this is an exploration of difference, love, and acceptance.

More about: St. Martin’s Press, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

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Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
(Scribner, HC 978-1501170065)
When Emmy applies for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, she is certain she’ll be covering the war. Instead, even in the midst of WWII, she ends up writing responses in the advice column for her boss, an overbearing woman who declares there will be no unpleasantness in her column, meaning nothing of substance that the women left at home by their soldier husbands and boyfriends are facing. But Emmy sees a need for real advice for real problems and takes it upon herself to respond privately in this charming novel about women’s roles, compassion, and the tragedy of war.

More about: Scribner, Dear Mrs. Bird

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The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
(Harper Paperbacks, TP 978-0062684226)
The story of a young Canadian woman forced to give her out of wedlock baby up for adoption and her baby, one of the Duplessis orphans, falsely declared mentally ill, raised and put to work in a mental institution, this is a heartbreaking look at the abuse of power in government and in the Catholic Church, marginalization, and women’s and children’s rights.

More about: Harper Paperbacks, The Home for Unwanted Girls

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A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
(Anchor, TP 978-1101873595)
A look at the process of artistic creation and what legacy it leaves, this is the story of a renowned author and illustrator who falls to his death just as a major film about his life and secrets is in the works and the long-time assistant who inherits everything, including his secrets, his last wishes, and the right to shape his legacy forever.

More about: Anchor, A House Among the Trees

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Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
(Milkweed Editions, TP 978-1571311306)
The powerful and deeply affecting story of a young Native man who was taken to an Indian residential school as a child who found transcendence and pride in his skill in the hockey rink despite continually being battered by gross racism, abuse, and the lifelong effects of trauma and abandonment, this documents injustice and colonialism and its attendant evils, but also resilience and strength of character.

More about: Milkweed Editions, Indian Horse

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In the Distance by Hernan Diaz
(Coffee House Press, TP 978-1566894883)
With echoes of the monster in Frankenstein, this novel about a young Swedish man traveling forward and back across the Western US in the time of the gold rush is a masterful and haunting look at loneliness, immigration, otherness, and survival in the face of charlatans, thieves, and liars.

More about: Coffee House Press, In the Distance

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In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
(Central Avenue Publishing, TP 978-1771681339)
Centered around three women brought together by their own private tragedies, this is a wide-ranging and gripping story that spans from the civil rights movement in the US to the Rwandan genocide, the terror and the healing. It asks what is left when there is no forgiveness, when acceptance and mercy is the only way forward.

More about: Central Avenue Publishing, In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

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Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
(Bloomsbury Publishing, HC 978-1635571523)
A famous Russian émigré author who comes to teach at an exclusive private school, his cool, glamorous wife, and the young woman who runs the school greenhouse, an orphan smuggled to the US from Soviet Russia who attended the school herself, are trapped in a smothering and increasingly dangerous relationship together in this novel of bullying, betrayal, and murder.

More about: Bloomsbury Publishing, Invitation to a Bonfire

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The Lido by Libby Page
(Simon & Schuster, HC 978-1501182037)
Kate, a reporter for the community newspaper, and Rosemary, an elderly woman, meet when Kate is assigned a story about the local lido’s proposed closing. As Kate gets invested in the lido’s fate, she and Rosemary rally the community to save the pool that looms so large in Rosemary’s life personally and the community’s life collectively. A warm and poignant story about friendship, community activism, and hope, this novel touches on anxiety, aging, love, connection, and the importance of being a part of the community.

More about: Simon & Schuster, The Lido

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Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
(Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, TP 978-0804012027)
Maggie Boylan is addicted to OxyContin in this masterfully written book of interconnected short stories set in Appalachia. Seen through the eyes of the people who know her and come into contact with her, the book gives a human face to the opioid epidemic devastating the country, tackling issues of poverty, community, the legal system, and the fragility of second chances.

More about: Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, Maggie Boylan

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The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
(Grove Press, HC 978-0802128188)
Based on a true story and telling of the final 12 hours before a young black man is set to be executed for the crime of raping a young white woman and narrated by a collection of those affected by or interested in the execution, this is a gripping tale set in a South where the truth takes a backseat to skin color.

More about: Grove Press, The Mercy Seat

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Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
(Soho Press, HC 978-1616959012)
Both a historical novel and a futuristic science fiction novel, this is the story of Angelica, a Filipino nurse caregiver to Sayoko, an elderly Japanese woman, and the robot named Hiro which might just be intended to supplement Angelica’s care for Sayoko or might be primed to supplant her entirely. A completely engrossing story of immigration, healthcare, AI, and memory, this marriage of the past and the future is captivating.

More about: Soho Press, Plum Rains

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The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
(Algonquin Books, TP 978-1616207366)
An epistolary novel using letters, court depositions, and diary entries, set just after the Civil War, this tells the story of Placidia Hockaday, who spent only one day and one night as a married woman before seeing her husband ride back to war. In his absence, and long after the time it could have possibly been his, she gives birth to a baby who subsequently dies but she won’t tell the truth of the child’s conception and death, maintaining her silence despite a court case against her.

More about: Algonquin Books, The Second Mrs. Hockaday

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Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust to Hope, My True Story by Irene H. Butter with John D. Bidwell and Kris Holloway
(White River Press, TP 978-1935052708)
A first-person memoir of living through the Holocaust, this is both horrifying and hopeful. Butter’s story is not just the recounting of her experiences before, during, and after the war but an inspiration and a call to action that this never happen again.

More about: White River Press, Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust to Hope, My True Story

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Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis
(Edge of Sports, HC 978-1617756764, TP 978-1617756580)
Wyomia Tyus is the record setting Olympian we should all know and this memoir of her life, her training under an encouraging but strict mentor, her Olympic experience, and the world she ran in is a revealing look at racism and sexism in sports, the power of belief in oneself, and the determination that forms an Olympian.

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The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
(University of South Carolina Press/Story River Books, HC 978-1611178821)
Bringing to life the true unsolved murders of four African-American people, this novel, through three different perspectives, a poor white child who knows all four of the murdered people, one of the victims, and one of the men responsible for the murders, examines issues of race, morality, complicity, and where we as a society still stand in this long, continuing, and perhaps vain conversation.

More about: University of South Carolina Press/Story River Books, The Vain Conversation

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The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
(Soho Crime, HC 978-1616957780)
In 1920s India, a female Parsi solicitor wants to make sure that three Muslim widows living in purdah and whom her father’s law firm represents understand their inheritances from their late husband. In the course of advising the women, she ends up investigating a murder in their home. A fascinating look at women’s roles, religion, the legal system, and power, this is a both a mystery and a fascinating snapshot of historical India.

More about: Soho Crime, The Widows of Malabar Hill

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Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
(Bellevue Literary Press, TP 978-1942658306)
A veteran suffering from extreme PTSD and her young blind daughter keep a trio of wolves on their land outside of town. When two boys, one an Iraqi immigrant child who lost his father and his leg in the war and one the son of a mother who wonders how her once charmed life has become what it is, married to an increasingly unstable soldier, drinking heavily, and desperately needing connection, discover the wolves, all that remains is the explosive consequence of their collision. A gripping novel of war’s human costs both during and after that war is over, this is a visceral and vividly drawn story.

More about: Bellevue Literary Press, Wolf Season

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Archive:
Great Group Reads Selections — 2009
Great Group Reads Selections — 2010
Great Group Reads Selections — 2011
Great Group Reads Selections — 2012
Great Group Reads Selections — 2013
Great Group Reads Selections — 2014
Great Group Reads Selections — 2015
Great Group Reads Selections — 2016
Great Group Reads Selections — 2017

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