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Great Group Reads

National Reading Group Month Selects
Great Group Reads

2016 Selections

Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett
The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya
The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary by Atef Abu Saif
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith
The Measure of Darkness by Liam Durcan
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
This Side of Providence by Rachel M. Harper
300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson
The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra
What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas


Great Group Reads Selections 2016 Tabletop (PDF)

National Reading Group Month Marketing Toolkit


Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett
(Graywolf Press, TP 978-1555977337)
When Furo wakes up white, he is plunged into a different world than the one he inhabited as a black man. Set in Nigeria, this interesting and original examination of racism, identity, and white privilege has echoes of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

More about: Graywolf Press, Blackass

Bonus Resources: Booklist Review, Bookreporter, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden
(Akashic Books, TP 978-1617754463)
This story follows Harlan from before his birth to his love of jazz and women, from the Harlem Renaissance to the aftermath of his brutal incarceration in Buchenwald during WWII. Harlan faces racism and discrimination that drive him to France and into the path of the Nazis who systematically strip away his brash confidence leaving him a shell of the man who left the United States for a more tolerant France.

More about: Akashic Books, The Book of Harlan

Bonus Resources: Booklist Review, Bookreporter, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
(Atria Books, HC 978-1501142536)
A warm and charming look at a socially inept woman faced with rebuilding her life and learning to love those around her as well as herself. This story radiates human kindness and the value of connection even as Britt-Marie fumbles towards her own empowerment.

More about: Atria Books, Britt-Marie Was Here

Bonus Resources: Booklist Review, Bookreporter, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya
(Dzanc Books, TP 978-1938103179)
A well-done examination of old and the new and the ways they come together and the ways they clash in a small, historically farming town now populated by physicists intent on unraveling the mysteries of the universe, this story of two families delves into issues of immigration, marriage, social acceptance, and change that might be too big for people to embrace.

More about: Dzanc Books, Charmed Particles

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman
(Feminist Press at CUNY, TP 978-1558619043)
Set in 1950s New York City, this is a character study of two very different people who have been friends and neighbors for 30 years: Earl, a gay, black actor, and Bette, an unassuming, Midwestern, white secretary whose niece comes to visit, upending a long and comfortable dynamic. Delving deeply into the ideas of love and acceptance and how far we will go to get what we want, this compelling novel shows us how much our need for both love and acceptance drives us.

More about: Feminist Press at CUNY, The Cosmopolitans

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
(MIRA/Harlequin, HC 978-0778319337)
A whimsical look at a grieving widower searching out more about his wife’s adventurous life before him by tracing the origin of each charm on a charm bracelet he discovers hidden in an old boot is sweet and quirky. It is lovely in its examination of what makes for a complete life, the allure of simplicity, openness to change, and healing.

More about: MIRA/Harlequin, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary by Atef Abu Saif
(Beacon Press, TP 978-0807049105)
A devastating and terrifyingly examination at living with war and the ways in which it pervades even the mundane, Saif’s memoir of violence and fear during the 51 days that Gaza was at war with Israel in 2014 is eye-opening. This is a war story that focuses on the impact the conflict has on family life, the dignity with which people live through such horror, and the sense of unreality that permeates everything.

More about: Beacon Press, The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
(Tyrus Books/F+W, TP 978-1440591884)
After 9/11, Levi and Nick go off to war together to fight, eventually coming home irreversibly changed. A difficult and important look at the emotional impact of war on the men who fight and the suffering they continue to face at home, this novel of shifting perspectives is a sensitive depiction of war, friendship, patriotism, PTSD, and guilt.

More about: Tyrus Books/F+W, A Hard and Heavy Thing

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Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh
(Ecco, HC 978-0061763298)
Set in a small, economically depressed, former mining town in Pennsylvania, this novel follows several inhabitants and a few outsiders as an energy company comes to town. This is a clear-eyed examination of the environmental and economic impact of fracking alongside the history and long lasting effects of other nearby energy disasters on both people and place.

More about: Ecco, Heat and Light

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The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith
(Other Press, HC 978-1590517789)
A carefully researched and well-imagined fictionalization of George Eliot’s life, alternating between her late in life marriage to a much younger man and her earlier writing life with beloved partner George Henry Lewes, this fascinating novel explores issues of mental illness, women’s roles in the 1800s, feminism, and love and loyalty in and out of marriage.

More about: Other Press, The Honeymoon

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Measure of Darkness by Liam Durcan
(Bellevue Literary Press, TP 978-1942658047)
After a car accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury, architect Martin suffers from left neglect, a neurological condition rendering him unable to “see” the full extent of his impairment. When his estranged brother agrees to take charge of him in his diminishment, their pasts cannot be ignored. Draft dodging, the idea of expertise or excellence in one’s chosen field, relationship, and suicide are all covered in this story of ambition and loss.

More about: Bellevue Literary Press, The Measure of Darkness

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Miss Jane by Brad Watson
(W.W. Norton & Company, HC 978-0393241730)
Based on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson imagines the life available to a woman with a congenital anomaly that renders her unlikely to ever marry or have children in a world that valued little else for her gender. This poetic and sensitive rendering is full of grace and intelligence and an understanding of the inherent value of Jane and the rich life she carves out for herself.

More about: W.W. Norton & Company , Miss Jane

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
(Crown, HC 978-1101902752)
The wrenching and honest memoir by the mother of one of the Columbine shooters looks at her response to the massacre, her guilt over missing signs that might have prevented the tragedy, living in the aftermath of horror, the loss of her son, and the need to dedicate herself to understanding and helping to prevent similar tragedies. Klebold’s courage to lay bare her own grief, the path to forgiveness, and the importance of recognizing brain illness and the signs of suicide is deeply moving.

More about: Crown, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
(Algonquin Books, TP 978-1616205300)
When Orhan’s grandfather dies and leaves the family home to a perfect stranger halfway around the world, Orhan must uncover the story behind this unlikely bequest. A moving debut novel told in alternating time periods that gets to the heart of the truth of the Armenian Genocide.

More about: Algonquin Books, Orhan’s Inheritance

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Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks
(Hub City Press, HC 978-1938235214)
A story about marriage, physical and emotional abuse, and an awakening awareness of self-worth that is told with a captivating beauty through the story of Irenie Lambey and the courage she must find to save herself. This riveting Appalachian tale of the perversion of religion and forced progress is haunting.

More about: Hub City Press, Over the Plain Houses

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
(Sourcebooks Landmark, TP 978-1492623441)
When Sara travels from Sweden, to the small town of Broken Wheel to meet her pen pal and fellow bibliophile, she arrives in time to attend Amy’s funeral. Instead of turning around for home, she opens a used bookstore in this dying town and embraces its lovely and eccentric residents. This is a delightful tale of starting over, books, and the power love.

More about: Sourcebooks Landmark, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

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This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
(Algonquin Books, TP 978-1616206017)
When Harriet’s husband dies, she decides that she’s still going to take the Alaskan cruise that he had booked for the two of them and as the trip goes forward, she discovers truths that might have better been left hidden. Heart-felt and endearing, the novel addresses issues of betrayal, fidelity, parenting, marriage, and happiness.

More about: Algonquin Books, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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This Side of Providence by Rachel M. Harper
(Prospect Park Books, TP 978-1938849763)
A gripping story of Puerto Rican immigrants, mother and children, who end up in Providence, Rhode Island in hopes of a better life only to struggle and fail before picking themselves up to try again another way. Unflinching about homelessness, poverty, addiction, and the successes and failures of our social services, the novel, with its shifting narrators, is a powerfully written and ultimately hopeful examination on the question of identity and the American Dream.

More about: Prospect Park Books, This Side of Providence

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300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson
(Harper Paperbacks, TP 978-0062390165)
An intriguing mystery about a journalist who is approached by a young man asking her to look into a historic kidnapping in a seemingly picturesque Portuguese town. As Joanna uncovers more about the town of Faro, she finds herself entangled in an ominous web that stretches all the way back to WWII. This thrilling novel looks at the still reverberating repercussions of long ago actions, issues of identity and reinvention, and self-discovery.

More about: Harper Paperbacks, 300 Days of Sun

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The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra
(Hogarth, TP 978-0770436452)
A collection of interconnected stories from 1930s Soviet Union to modern day Russia and beyond, this is a tour de force that explores Russian history through identity, family, sacrifice, and politics. Darkly humorous and slyly subversive — unforgettable.

More about: Hogarth, The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories

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Community: Goodreads 1, Goodreads 2

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What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas
(Scribner, TP 978-1476785066)
In beautiful, spare vignettes about life, aging, family, and friends, this very personal memoir is thought provoking, witty, and poignant about Thomas’ life and relationships as she moves past sorrow and betrayal to a frank embrace of the future.

More about: Scribner, What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir

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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

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