Book Club Kit: Bel Canto

Ann Patchett - Bel CantoBel Canto
by Ann Patchett
Published: 2001
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening–until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Author Info, Discussion Questions, and Brief Reviews

The Guardian – “Danger Arias” by Alex Clark
Entertainment Weekly – “Review” by Karen Valby
The New York Times – “Uninvited Guests Wearing You Down? Listen to Opera” by Janet Maslin

On the Web:
Author’s Website –
Spotify Playlists – Listen to the music mentioned in the book via Tattered Cover and GalleyCat.
NPR – “Talk Like an Opera Geek: Savoring the ‘Bel Canto’ Sound” by Tom Huizenga
NPR: Morning Edition – “Ann Patchett and Renee Fleming on ‘Bel Canto’

If you enjoyed Bel Canto, you might like: 
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Food Bonus!

Check out The Book Club Cookbook for a delicious recipe inspired by Bel Canto‘s kitchen scene.


Book Club Kit: Death Clouds on Mt. Baldy

Cathy Hufault - Death Clouds on Mt. Baldy: Tucson's Lost TragedyDeath Clouds on Mt Baldy: Tucson’s Lost Tragedy
by Cathy Hufault
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Nov. 15, 1958. An arctic-like blizzard roars out of nowhere across the mild desert terrain of southern Arizona. Boy scouts are feared caught out in the open, perhaps buried under the three to seven feet of snowfall in the mountains. Cowboys urge their horses through the chest high snow, hikers push through monster snowdrifts, and helicopters hover at dangerous altitudes in their struggle to find the boys before they die.

No Reading Guide?
Book Club Queen – General Discussion Questions for Nonfiction
LitLovers – More General Questions for Nonfiction Books

The Virtual SCRIBEReview by Bonnie Lee
Check Goodreads for reviews from fellow readers.

On the Web:
Publisher’s Website – Arizona Mountain Publications – “Tucson Author Filming Video about Boy Scouts’ Tragic Deaths
– Twenty Part series on The Boy Scout Tragedy in the Santa Rita Mountains
Deb’s Search & Rescue Stories – Read more search and rescue stories from a volunteer in Coconino County.
Arizona Public Media – “Exploring the Story Behind the Deaths of Three Boy Scouts near Tucson in 1958” – Story by Mark Duggan
Green Valley News – “Mystery Solved: Two Men Recover Piece of History Tied to Tragic Boy Scout Hike” by Dan Shearer

Want more Arizona history? Try these:
Going Back to Bisbee (Book Club Kit) by Richard Shelton
These is My Words (Book Club Kit) by Nancy E Turner
Filaree (Book Club Kit) by Marguerite Noble
Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O’Connor

Book Club Kit: Doc

by Mary Doria Russell
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Born to the life of an educated Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday is given a choice at the age of twenty-two: die within months in Atlanta or leave everyone he loves in hopes of finding health in the West. Young, scared, lonely and sick, he arrives on the rawest edge of the Texas frontier in time for an economic crash. Soon he’s gambling professionally and living with a high-strung Hungarian whore who insists that they follow the money to Dodge City.

Reading Guides:
Random House – Includes a Letter from the Author and Discussion Questions
Author’s Website – Includes additional discussion questions from the author.

The Washington Post – “Ron Charles reviews Doc by Mary Doria Russell
The Seattle Times – “Mary Doria Russell’s intoxicating novel of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Dodge City” by Moira Macdonald
The Oregonian – “For one season of bliss, Doc gets a lot out of Dodge” by Margaret Donsbach

More about Doc Holliday:
Wikipedia – Doc Holliday article
Old West Legends – Doc Holliday: Deadly Doctor of the West
More books in our catalog by subject – John Henry Holliday

If you enjoyed Doc, check out these titles:
Lonesome Dove or Zeke & Ned both by Larry McMurtry
These is My Words (Book Club Kit) by Nancy E Turner
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Book Club Kit: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
First Published: 2005
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

Reading Guides:
Lit Lovers – Includes Author Info, Book Reviews, and Discussion Questions
CultureWatch (guide by Joanna Richards) – Includes a Summary, Author Info, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’: Everything Is Included” by Walter Kirn
The Seattle Times – “‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’: Gimmicks Drown Out Power, Poignancy” by Michael Upchurch

Movie Trailer:

More from JSF:

If you enjoyed Extremely Loud… you also might like:

Book Club Kit: The Cold Kiss

John Rector - The Cold KissThe Cold Kiss
by John Rector
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Giving a ride to a snowbound stranger who offers them a lucrative sum in exchange, a recently engaged couple is thrown into a nightmarish situation when the stranger dies in their back seat with more than two million dollars in his possession.     

No reading guide?
LitLovers – Generic Discussion Questions for Fiction

Publishers WeeklyReviewed on 05/17/2010
Goodreads – Find out what other readers thought of The Cold Kiss!

John Rector’s blog:

If you enjoyed The Cold Kiss, you might like:
The Damage Done by Hillary Davidson
The Crimes of Jordan Wise by Bill Pronzini
Ravens by George Dawes Green

Book Club Kit: The Book Thief

Markus Zusak - The Book ThiefThe Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
First Published: 2006
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, a book that she stole from her brother’s burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a fullfledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazi book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her fi rst book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel’s life on Himmel Street, told from Death’s point of view.

Reading Guide:
ReadingGroupGuides – Includes Critical Praise, Author Info, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “Stealing to Settle a Score with Life” by Janet Maslin and “Fighting for Their Lives” by John Green
The Guardian (UK) – “It’s a Steal” by Philip Ardagh
USA Today – “‘The Book Thief’ Rises Above Horrors of War” by Carol Memmott
The Washington Post – “The Power of Words” by Elizabeth Chang

On the Web:
Author’s Website –
The Guardian (UK) – “Why I Write: Markus Zusak” interview by Sarah Kinson

If you enjoyed The Book Thief, you might like these:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
City of Thieves (Book Club Kit) by David Benioff
Sarah’s Key (Book Club Kit) by Tatiana de Rosnay

Food Bonus!

Check out The Book Club Cook Book for Markus Zusak’s Vanilla Kipferl (aka Crescent Cookies) recipe!

Book Club Kit: A Reliable Wife

Robert Goolrick - A Reliable WifeA Reliable Wife
by Robert Goolrick
First Published: 2009
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Rural Wisconsin, 1907. In the bitter cold, wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who has answered his advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, but her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, then slowly poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on is that Truitt has a plan of his own for his new wife.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes a Summary, Book Reviews, Author Bio, and Discussion Questions

The Washington Post – “Book Review” by Ron Charles
USA Today – “Robert Goolrick’s ‘Reliable Wife’ is a Killer Debut Novel” by Carol Memmott
The Book Lady’s Blog – “Book Review” by Rebecca Joines Schinsky

On the Web:
Author’s Website –
Publishers Weekly – “The Monday Interview” by Dick Donahue
NPR Books – “‘Reliable Wife’: Madness and Passion in Wisconsin

If you enjoyed A Reliable Wife, you might like:
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Forgotten Garden (Book Club Kit) by Kate Morton
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Book Club Kit: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Heidi Durrow - The girl who fell from the skyThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky
by Heidi W Durrow
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Rachel, whose mother is Danish and father is African-American, loses both her parents and is forced to move to a new city to live with her strict African-American grandmother, but when she is immersed into an African-American community, her physical appearance draws attention and Rachel struggles with her own uncertainties about her identity.

Reading Guide:
Reading Group Guides – Includes Author Info, Critical Praise, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “The Bluest Eye” by Louisa Thomas
The Christian Science Monitor – “Review” by Heller McAlpin
The Washington Post – “Review” by Lisa Page

On the Web:
Follow Heidi Durrow on Twitter: @heididurrow
All Things Considered – NPR – “Reimagining the ‘Tragic Mulatto’
The New Yorker – “The Exchange: Heidi Durrow’s Mixed Chicks” – Interview with The Book Bench

If you enjoyed The Girl who Fell from the Sky, you might like:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Color of Water by James McBride

Book Club Kit: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Lionel Shriver - We Need to Talk About KevinWe Need to Talk About Kevin
by Lionel Shriver
First Published: 2003
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

Reading Guide:
Reading Group Guides – Includes Book Info, an Excerpt, and Discussion Questions

The Guardian (UK) – “Not Mad About the Boy” by Sarah A Smith
The Independent (UK) – “Review” by Lisa Gee
Kirkus’ Reviews – Reviewed on March 1, 2003

On the Web: & life – “Perfectly Flawed” by Lionel Shriver
The Guardian (UK) – “Lionel Shriver Talks About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver
Bomb MagazineInterview with Lionel Shriver by Jenefer Shute (2005)
Identity TheoryInterview with Lionel Shriver by Robert Birnbaum (2003)

More by Lionel Shriver:
The Post-Birthday World
So Much for That

If you liked We Need to Talk About Kevin, you might enjoy:
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Columbine by Dave Cullen
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

Book Club Kit: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Tom Franklin - Crooked Letter, Crooked LetterCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter
by Tom Franklin
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

For a few months in the late 1970s, Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother, stepped outside their circumstances to become pals. Then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date, and she was never heard from again. Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him. The incident broke their friendship, and then Silas left town. Twenty years later Larry, a solitary mechanic, and Silas, who has returned as a constable, cross paths again, after another girl disappears.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Author Info, Reviews, and Discussion Questions

The Washington Post – “Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter reviewed by Ron Charles
Paste Magazine – “Review” by David Langness
Kirkus’ Reviews – Reviewed on August 1, 2010

If you enjoyed Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, you might like:
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore

Don’t forget to tell us what your discussion group thought about the book in the comments below!