Book Club Kit: Great House

Great Housegreat-house-by-nicole-krauss
By Nicole Krauss
First Published: 2010
10 copies & Reading Guide

For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.

Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.

Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?

Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Lit Lovers
Oprah Magazine

Reviews:
The New York Times
The Nation

On the web:
Author Bio
Author InterviewPBS News Hour 

Similar Reads:
The End of the Land by David Grossman
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken

Enjoy Great House? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgotwhat-alice-forgot
By Liane Moriarty
First Published: 2012
10 copies & Reading Guide

Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn’t sure she likes who she’s become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Penguin Publishing
Author website Readers Guide

Reviews:
Booklist Online
Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews

On the web:
Author Bio
Author InterviewChick Lit Central

Similar Reads:
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch
The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Enjoy What Alice Forgot? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: The Secret Keeper

The Secret KeeperThe-Secret-Keeper
By Kate Morton
First Published: 2012
10 copies & Reading Guide

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything. 2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds–Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy–who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined. Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s, and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Reading Guides (questions for discussion):
Simon & Schuster
Author website reader’s guide

Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Booklist Online

On the Web:
Author InterviewThe Sydney Morning Herald

Book trailer:

Similar Reads:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears
The Water’s Lovely by Ruth Rendell
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl

Book Club Kit: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunterheart-is-a-lonely-hunter
By Carson McCullers
First Published: 1940
10 copies & Reading Guide

When The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers’s literary debut, was first published by Houghton Mifflin, on June 4, 1940, the twenty-three-year-old author became a literary sensation virtually overnight. The novel is considered McCullers’s finest work, an enduring masterpiece that was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the top one hundred works of fiction published in the twentieth century.
Set in a small Southern mill town in the 1930s, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated. At the novel’s center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who is left alone after his friend and roommate, Antonapoulos, is sent away to an asylum. Singer moves into a boarding house and begins taking his meals at the local diner, and in this new setting he becomes the confidant of several social outcasts and misfits. Drawn to Singer’s kind eyes and attentive demeanor are Mick Kelly, a spirited young teenager with dreams greater than her economic means; Jake Blount, an itinerant social reformer with a penchant for drink and violence; Biff Brannon, the childless proprietor of the local café; and Dr. Copeland, a proud black intellectual whose unwavering ideals have left him alienated from those who love him.

Reading Guide: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Includes Questions for Discussion

Reviews:
The Big Read
The Washington Post

Similar reads:
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Enjoy The Heart is a Lonely Hunter? Share your thoughts and comments below or over at Goodreads.

Book Club Kit: Close Your Eyes

Close Your Eyes cover imageClose Your Eyes
by Amanda Eyre Ward
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

For most of her life, Lauren Mahdian has been certain of two things: that her mother is dead, and that her father is a murderer. Before the horrific tragedy, Lauren led a sheltered life on the banks of Long Island Sound, a haven of luxurious homes and seemingly perfect families. But one morning, eight-year-old Lauren and her older brother awoke to discover their mother’s body and their beloved father arrested for the murder.

Years later, Lauren is surrounded by uncertainty. Startling revelations force her to peek under the floorboards of her carefully constructed memories, put aside the version of history that she has clung to so fiercely, and search for the truth of what really happened that fateful night long ago.

Reader’s Guide:

Random House – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Reviews & Articles:
Kirkus Reviews
Publisher’s Weekly

You Also Might Like:
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

Did your book club read Close Your Eyes? Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment or join us over at Goodreads!

Book Club Kit: The Sandcastle Girls

Sandcastle Girls cover imageThe Sandcastle Girls
By Chris Bohjalian
First Published 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. It’s 1915, and Elizabeth has volunteered to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War. There she meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. After leaving Aleppo and traveling into Egypt to join the British Army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, realizing that he has fallen in love with the wealthy young American.

Years later, their American granddaughter, Laura, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history, uncovering a story of love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

Reader’s Guide:
Random House

Reviews & Articles:
The Washington Post – “Chris Bohjalian’s ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ Relives the Armenian Genocide” by Eugenia Zukerman
The Armenian Weekly – “The Kernel That Led to the Novel, The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian
Lonely Planetmap of Armenia

Author’s Website: http://www.chrisbohjalian.com

You Might Also Like:
Toby’s Room by Pat Barker
Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd
The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian

Did your book club read The Sandcastle Girls? Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment or join us over at Goodreads!

Book Club Kit: Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild cover imageWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
By Cheryl Strayed
First Published: 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Reading Guide:
Random House – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
NPR – “A Walk on the Wild Side” by Michael Schaub
New York Times – “The High Road Wild, a Hiking Memoir” by Dani Shapiro

Author’s Website: http://www.cherylstrayed.com

You Also Might Like:
Home is a Roof Over a Pig by Aminta Arrington
The Old Ways: A Journey on foot by Robert MacFarlane
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Book Club Kit: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemakers Wife cover imageThe Shoemaker’s Wife
By Adriana Trigiani
First Published: 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

The majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. When Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished and sent to hide in America. Soon Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I as Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Adriana Trigiani’s own family history and the love of tradition, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

Reading Guide:
Harper Collins – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly
Kirkus Review

You Might Also Like:
A Good American by Alex George
Elizabeth Street: a Novel Based on True Events by Laurie Fabiano
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy

Book Club Kit: The Hour I First Believed

Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed
By Wally Lamb
First Published: 2008
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. When Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family’s Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

Reading Guide:
Harper Collins – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
BooklistReview by Joanne Wilkinson
Kirkus ReviewReview

You Might Also Like:
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Columbine by David Cullen
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Club Kit: Before I Fall

Before I Fall cover imageBefore I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
First Published 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Friday, February 12 is a big day for Samantha Kingston: It’s Cupid Day, when all the kids at school will count the roses they receive to see just how popular they are. It’s the day of Kent McFreaky’s party. It’s the day Sam plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Rob. It’s also the day she dies . . . sort of. Sam is killed in a car crash on Friday, February 12, but she wakes the next morning to that same day, again and again. While living her last day on repeat, Sam discovers that she has a chance to do things over—to do things better. So what does it take to go from being a popular girl who can inflict a dozen small cruelties in a given day to being someone who will be remembered well in her own right? Samantha Kingston is about to find out.

Reading Guide:
ReadingGroupGuides – Includes a Book Description and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
The Hub – Review by Annie Schutte
Booklist Review by Krista Hutley

Author’s Website:
http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com

You Might Also Like:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
November Blues by Sharon M. Draper
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green