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Great Group Reads

2014 Selections

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Cataract City by Craig Davidson
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
The Commandant of Lubizec by Patrick Hicks
Euphoria by Lily King
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe
Marching to Zion by Mary Glickman
Neverhome by Laird Hunt
The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis
Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks
Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement
The Promise by Ann Weisgarber
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins
Where Somebody Waits by Margaret Kaufman
The World of Rae English by Lucy Rosenthal


Great Group Reads Selections 2014 Tabletop (PDF)


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
(Scribner, 978-1476746586)
A beautifully depicted, marvelously compelling story of two children during WWII—a blind French girl possessing a great secret, and an orphaned German boy who has exceptional radio skills—that is immensely readable. Both narratives poetically and thrillingly pace through six years of war as the children grow and their stories collide.

More about: Scribner, All the Light We Cannot See, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
(Back Bay Books, 978-0316243926)
An evocative tale of love and murder in early 19th century Iceland, this story is based on true events. In exquisite and haunting prose, the story of Agnes, convicted and awaiting execution while working on a remote farm, is gradually revealed. This is a multilayered and gripping story that illuminates a little known landscape and history.

More about: Back Bay Books, Burial Rites, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Cataract City by Craig Davidson
(Graywolf Press, 978-1555976743)
Duncan Diggs and Owen Stuckey grew up on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, in a gritty industrial town. Duncan becomes a boxer and small-time crook; Owen, a cop. When they meet again as adults, their childhood friendship brings them up against some hard choices, in this propulsive story reminiscent of Joyce Carol Oates and Dennis Lehane.

More about: Graywolf Press, Cataract City, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
(Atria Books, 978-1476709109)
The realities of living through post-revolutionary Iran are intensely portrayed across three decades and from various points of view. Vibrantly explored are the all-too real themes of suffering, imprisonment, the deep emotional scars borne by the children, the burden of continuous upheaval, but also the ultimate hope of a culture that is still full of poetry and beauty.

More about: Atria, Children of the Jacaranda Tree, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Commandant of Lubizec by Patrick Hicks
(Steerforth, 978-1586422202)
A harrowing tale that explores the mind of the commandant at a Nazi death camp and how he compartmentalized his life: murdering thousands by day and going home to kiss his wife and laugh with his children. A brutal story of survival and guilt, it illustrates Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil.”

More about: Steerforth, The Commandant of Lubizec, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Euphoria by Lily King
(Atlantic Monthly Press, 978-0802122551)
Set in the 1930s New Guinea and inspired by the life of Margaret Mead, the story follows three anthropologists caught in a love triangle. As they study the artistic, female dominated Tam tribe, their lives spin out of control. This is a captivating story of desire, possession, exploration and sacrifice.

More about: Atlantic Monthly Press, Euphoria, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
(Penguin Press, 978-1594205712)
”Lydia is dead“ runs the first line of the novel. From there, Ng weaves a devastatingly adept story of a mixed race American family in the late 1970s, exploring themes of family secrets, identity, gender perspectives, and race. This profound family portrait is also a riveting pageturner.

More about: Penguin Press, Everything I Never Told You, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe
(Soho Press, 978-1616953133)
The American Dream is recast from the perspective of a Nigerian immigrant, Ike, who despairs of success but still seethes with ambition to the extent of traveling back to his homeland to steal a religious statute. Brilliant and unforgettable, full of sly humor and pathos, Okey Ndibe’s tale offers up an insider’s biting view of both America and Nigeria.

More about: Soho Press, Foreign Gods, Inc., Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Marching to Zion by Mary Glickman
(Open Road Media, 978-1480435629)
This dramatic and tumultuous story of interracial love and the struggles of African Americans and Jewish Americans against prejudice and economic depression in American’s heartland takes place over a period of 20 pivotal years from 1916 to 1936, in St. Louis and Memphis. Race riots, tragedy, betrayal and forbidden love are explored in this fast-paced novel.

More about: Open Road Media, Marching to Zion, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Neverhome by Laird Hunt
(Little, Brown and Company, 978-0316370134)
Based on the lives of women who disguised themselves as men during the Civil War, this tale follows Ash, a farmer’s wife, who abandons a conventional life to fight for the Union cause. Fearless and an excellent marksman, Ash lives a precarious life as a soldier, with betrayal always a breath away. It is a fascinating story of identity and reinvention with a vivid historical setting.

More about: Little, Brown and Company, Neverhome, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis
(Harper Perennial, 978-0062281302)
The lives of two children who come together through an horrific event in Provincetown, Massachusetts, are explored in alternating voices over 30 years, covering the themes of faith, betrayal, family secrets, and violence. Atmospheric and passionate, the culture of the Massachusetts coastline and its Portuguese heritage are richly depicted.

More about: Harper Perennial, The Orphans of Race Point, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks
(Grove Press, 978-0802121646)
Archaeologist Catherine Lemay arrives in Montana in the 1950s to find out if historical artifacts will be lost in the flooded lands resulting from the construction of a dam. She opens her heart to the wild and magnificent landscape as it is revealed to her by John H, a former mustanger and recluse. Elegantly written, it is a love song to a vanishing way of life that raises many topics for discussion: the treatment of Native Americans, the politics of big corporations, preservation of the past, and the role of women post-WWII.

More about: Grove Press, Painted Horses, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement
(Hogarth, 978-0804138789)
The harsh, desolate landscape of a Mexican region owned entirely by drug lords has forced women to hide their girls in the ground and make them ‘ugly’ so they will not be stolen away. Is there any hope for Ladydi, a young girl who dreams of a better life? This poetical, enchanting, and disturbing portrait of a strange and foreign world right in our midst is powerful, redemptive, and unforgettable.

More about: Hogarth, Prayers for the Stolen, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Promise by Ann Weisgarber
(Skyhorse Publishing, 978-1629142364)
In 1900, Catherine, a talented pianist who tried but failed to establish an independent life, finds herself in such a desperate situation, that she agrees to marry an acquaintance, now a widower and rancher in Galveston, Texas. She arrives there to make a life under primitive conditions, and is put to a harsh test — the massive hurricane which would prove to be the deadliest disaster in 20th century America.

More about: Skyhorse Publishing, The Promise, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
(Simon & Schuster, 978-1476729091)
Don Tillman, a socially-challenged genetics professor who has never been on a second date, sets out to find the ideal wife with a sixteen-page questionnaire. Enter Rosie Jarman, who doesn’t quite fit the profile but as Don is drawn into Rosie’s project to find her biological father, an unlikely relationship develops. In this delightful, feel-good novel Don and Rosie, and the reader finally draw the unscientific conclusion that sometimes you don’t find love, it finds you.

More about: Simon & Schuster, The Rosie Project, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
(Algonquin Books, 978-1616203214)
Recently widowed A.J. Fikry has problems: his bookstore is failing, he’s drinking too much, and his rare collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems has been stolen. The arrival of a mysterious package brings A.J. an opportunity to make his life over and see everything with new eyes. This is a delightful story of transformation, second chances and above all the power of love.

More about: Algonquin Books, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
(Black Cat, 978-0802122513)
Mireille Jameson returns to Haiti to visit her wealthy parents, but the happy reunion is shattered when she is kidnapped by a gang of armed men and her father refuses to pay the ransom they demand. Gay keeps the reader glued to the page with her harrowing, suspenseful, and graphically violent story about identity, guilt, and the obligations we owe our loved ones.

More about: Black Cat, An Untamed State, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins
(Twelve, 978-1455528967)
Fifty years before Helen Keller, Laura Bridgman was the first American deaf-blind child to acquire language and with that, great celebrity. This poignant novel tells Laura’s story, alternating her convincing voice with that of her calculating mentor Dr. Samuel Howe, his poet wife Julie Ward Howe, and Laura’s beloved teacher, set amidst the chaotic beginnings of nineteenth century social reform and experimentation.

More about: Twelve, What is Visible, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Where Somebody Waits by Margaret Kaufman
(Paul Dry Books, 978-1589880894)
Tall, red-haired Ruby Davidson lives her life in small-town Arkansas, and the reader follows her voice in vignettes over 60 years, as she falls in love, marries into a southern Jewish family, encounters small and large dramas, and carries on with courage and spirit. This story transports the reader directly into the South of the 1940s and 1950s.

More about: Paul Dry Books, Where Somebody Waits, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The World of Rae English by Lucy Rosenthal
(Black Lawrence Press, 978-1937854393)
Rae English, a smart yet conflicted young woman has secrets. Set in the strait-laced early sixties when women were supposed to be married and pretty, she finds herself divorced from a disgraced politician. Hoping to conceal herself as a writer and rediscover love, she leaves New York and relocates to Iowa City. Book groups will have much to discuss on the themes of abandonment, holding secrets and letting go.

More about: Black Lawrence Press, The World of Rae English, Booklist Review, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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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

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