Help Us Choose: 2017 Book Group in a Bag Survey

We are adding 10 new kits to the Library’s Book Group in a Bag collection this year. We’re excited about adding new kits to our collection, but it’s always hard to narrow down our list to just 10 titles.

That’s where you come in. Please take our survey and help us narrow down our choices to the top 10 most popular titles. We love getting this feedback from the people that actually use our collection.

book group in a bag smallWhat’s Book Group in a Bag? It’s a way for book groups to check out a bag with 10 copies of the book their group wants to read. The kit also has a notebook with discussion questions and lot of other helpful information so that the discussion leader has what they need to lead the group’s meeting. Visit our Book Group in a Bag page to learn more.

Here are descriptions of the books that are under consideration for 2016. To vote, go to our online survey or print out this paper version of the 2017 Book Group in a Bag Survey and return it to one of our service desks.

The survey will close at midnight on Sunday, May 14th.

2017 Book Group in a Bag Survey – Titles Under Consideration

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Fiction; Published in 2015, 337 pages

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down – Booklist

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Nonfiction: Humor; Published in 1998, 276 pages

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakesand to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.

“sheer comic travel entertainment”- Kirkus Reviews

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
Fiction: Historical; Published in 2016, 416 pages

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph–a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love–with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

A thorough and well-researched if sometimes flowery saga of the Jefferson family. –Kirkus Reviews

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
Nonfiction: Social Issues; Published in 2013, 592 pages

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several of those caregivers faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

It is, like all great journalism, a document unto itself, an artifact of what we thought about “life and death” issues in the early twenty-first century. – Bookforum

Time and Again by Jack Finney
Fiction: Science Fiction; Published in 1995, 399 pages

Rediscover the beloved classic, Time and Again –hailed as ” THE great time-travel story” by Stephen King, now with masterfully restored original artwork and an all-new foreword by Audrey Niffenegger, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife .

When advertising artist Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring the possibility of time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave his twentieth-century existence and step into New York City in January 1882. Aside from his thirst for experience, he has good reason to return to the past–his friend Kate has a curious, half-burned letter dated from that year, and he wants to trace the mystery.
But when Si begins to fall in love with a woman he meets in the past, he will be forced to choose between two worlds–forever.

Praised as “pure New York fun” by Alice Hoffman, Time and Again is admired for its rich, painstakingly researched descriptions of life in New York City more than a century ago, and for the swift adventure at its core. With digitally remastered art, fall in love with this refreshed classic all over again.

Auschwitz 34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story by Nancy Geise
Non-Fiction: Biography;Published in 2015, 344 pages  NOTE: Local Author

In May of 1945, Joe Rubinstein walked out of a Nazi concentration camp.
For over 70 years, his remarkable story was hidden from the world.
Shortly before dawn on a frigid morning in Radom, Poland, German soldiers forced twenty-one year-old Icek “Joe” Rubinsztejn onto a crowded, open-air truck. The next day, several around him were dead. From there, things got worse for young Joe-much worse.
Joe arrived at Auschwitz on April 30, 1942. It would be seven decades before he revealed how he survived several of the most notorious concentration camps. His is an inspiring narrative; a story of reliance, endurance, courage and faith.
Barefooted when he was seized by the Nazis, Joe became one of New York’s leading shoe designers-working with companies whose shoes were sought after by First Ladies and movie stars alike.
Joe’s story bears witness to the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. While the Nazis took everything else, they were unable to take his unassailable joy.  Joe’s story is one of discovering light in the darkest of places, an inspiration for us all.

A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield
Non-Fiction: History; Published in 2006, 352 pages

In the sixteenth century, one of the world’s most precious commodities was cochineal, a legendary red dye treasured by the ancient Mexicans and sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spain’s cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. As the English, French, Dutch, and other Europeans joined the chase for cochineal — a chase that lasted for more than three centuries — a tale of pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies unfolds. A Perfect Red evokes with style and verve this history of a grand obsession, of intrigue, empire, and adventure in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth.

Pirates! Kings! Beautiful ladies! Daring spies! Elements essential for a page-turning action/adventure thriller, yes, but who would think they’d turn up in a scholarly examination of a little-known substance called cochineal? – Booklist

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
Non-Fiction: History; Published in 2013, 416 pages

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not appear on any map. Thousands of civilians, many of them young women from small towns across the U.S., were recruited to this secret city, enticed by the promise of solid wages and war-ending work. What were they actually doing there? Very few knew. The purpose of this mysterious government project was kept a secret from the outside world and from the majority of the residents themselves. Some wondered why, despite the constant work and round-the-clock activity in this makeshift town, did no tangible product of any kind ever seem to leave its guarded gates? The women who kept this town running would find out at the end of the war, when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed and changed the world forever.
Drawing from the voices and experiences of the women who lived and worked in Oak Ridge, The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of World War II from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. “A phenomenal story,” and Publishers Weekly called it an “intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history.”

“Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city…Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.” The Washington Post

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Fiction: Psychological Suspense Published in 2016, 320 pages

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Brisk prose style and character development are almost beside the  point in Lapena’s suspense-fiction debut; this is a plot-driven page-turner, and even the  most character-focused readers will find it hard to put down – Booklist

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larsen
Non-Fiction: History; Published in 2015,  430 pages

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

Larson transforms a complex event into a thrilling human interest story. This suspenseful account will entice readers of military and maritime history along with lovers of popular history. – Library Journal

March, Book One by John Lewis
Non-Fiction: Graphic Novel; Published in 2013, 128 pages

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.
Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).
March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

This is superb visual storytelling that establishes a convincing, definitive record of a key eyewitness to significant social change –School Library Journal

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
Non-Fiction: Economic History; Published in 2011, 291 pages

The real story of the [2008] crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn’t shine and the SEC doesn’t dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can’t pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren’t talking.
Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar’s Poker. Out of a handful of unlikely-really unlikely-heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our time.

It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it’s essential reading.—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair

1984 by George Orwell
Fiction: Dystopian; Published in 1948, 304 pages

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thought crimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Orwell’s warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book’s title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses. –The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston
Non-fiction: History; Published in 1994, 352 pages

The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus. A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.

A totally convincing page turner, proving that truth is scarier than fiction. –Kirkus Reviews

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Non-Fiction: Business; Published in 2013, 240 pages

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.
In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home.
Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

Lean In poses a set of ambitious challenges to women: to create the lives we want, to be leaders in our work, to be partners in our homes, and to be champions of other women. Sheryl provides pragmatic advice on how women in the twenty-first century can meet these challenges. I hope women—and men—of my generation will read this book to help us build the lives we want to lead and the world we want to live in.   —Chelsea Clinton

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys
Fiction: Historical; Published in 2011, 384 pages

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life–until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

“Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both.”–The Washington Post

The Mandibles: A Family 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver
Fiction: Speculative; Published in 2016, 416 pages

With dry wit and psychological acuity, this near-future novel explores the aftershocks of an economically devastating U.S. sovereign debt default on four generations of a once-prosperous American family. Down-to-earth and perfectly realistic in scale, this is not an over-the-top Blade Runner tale. It is not science fiction.
In 2029, the United States is engaged in a bloodless world war that will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Overnight, on the international currency exchange, the “almighty dollar” plummets in value, to be replaced by a new global currency, the “bancor.” In retaliation, the president declares that America will default on its loans. “Deadbeat Nation” being unable to borrow, the government prints money to cover its bills. What little remains to savers is rapidly eaten away by runaway inflation.
The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their ninety-seven-year-old patriarch dies. Once the inheritance turns to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but also—as the U.S. economy spirals into dysfunction—the challenge of sheer survival.
Recently affluent, Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister, Florence, absorbs strays into her cramped household. An expat author, their aunt, Nollie, returns from abroad at seventy-three to a country that’s unrecognizable. Her brother, Carter, fumes at caring for their demented stepmother, now that an assisted living facility isn’t affordable. Only Florence’s oddball teenage son, Willing, an economics autodidact, will save this formerly august American family from the streets.
The Mandibles is about money. Thus it is necessarily about bitterness, rivalry, and selfishness—but also about surreal generosity, sacrifice, and transformative adaptation to changing circumstances.

This is a sharp, smart, snarky satire of every conspiracy theory and hot button political issue ever spun; one that, at first glance, might induce an absurdist chuckle, until one realizes that it is based on an all-too-plausible reality. –Booklist

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simonson
Fiction; Published in 2014, 295 pages

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.
Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.
Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut “navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take (USA TODAY). “Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in” (Chicago Tribune).

Funny, touching, and hard to put down, The Rosie Project is certain to entertain even as readers delve into deep themes. For a book about a logic-based quest for love, it has a lot of heart. – Booklist

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Non-Fiction: History; Published in 2016, 368 pages

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.

“Restoring the truth about individuals who were at once black, women and astounding mathematicians, in a world that was constructed to stymie them at every step, is no easy task. Shetterly does it with the depth and detail of a skilled historian and the narrative aplomb of a masterful storyteller.” –Bookreporter.com

 The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
Fiction; Published in 2016, 336 pages

The Fault In Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, which is why he turns everything into a game, manipulating people and events around him for his own amusement.
Until Polina arrives.
She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her.
She is exquisite. Soon, he cannot help being drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.

The story highlights the  ways random acts of  kindness can illuminate individual lives  and make the  seemingly unbearable tolerable, if not wholly acceptable. An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut. – Kirkus Reviews

To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman
Fiction: Historical; Published in 2017, 320 pages; Kansas author

Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century―but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women’s baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father’s hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town―Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado.
The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future. Full of Kansas history―from pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains―To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.

She is a Kansas native and the book is fiction based on the history of strong women in Kansas (and elsewhere) being at the forefront of the push for public libraries in the U.S. I think it will have great book group appeal! – Miranda, TSCPL Library Staff Member

Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne
Fiction: Mystery; Published in 1997, 272 pages

The King of Northumbria has requested the services of a wise counsel to decide the people’s religious future. Among the select priests, elders, and scholars from Ireland and Rome is Sister Fidelma of Kildare. Trained as an advocate of the courts, she was expecting to rule on issues of law. Instead she was plunged into unholy murder.
Dead was the Abbess Étain, a leading Celtic speaker, her throat slashed. With the counsel in an uproar and civil war threatening, the desperate king has turned to the sharp-witted Sister Fidelma for help. With the aide of her dear friend Brother Eadulf and her faith in the truth, she must act in haste before the killer strikes again.

This immensely appealing launch of a new series is set in seventh-century Ireland, which in Tremayne’s rendering is a golden age of enlightenment and of total equality for women. – Publisher’s Weekly

 

Some of my many roles at the Library include: Tax Form guru, Collectibles collection promoter, Inspirational fiction evangelist, Adult Literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader, Reader's Advisor, and many more,,,