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Great Group Reads

National Reading Group Month Selects
Great Group Reads

2011 Selections

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Dance Lessons by Áine Greaney
Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo
The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
If You Knew Then What I Know Now by Ryan Van Meter
The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira Bartók
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon


The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
(The Penguin Press, 978-1-59420-280-3)
Maggie Ly returns to Vietnam, searching for information about her father's last years in Hanoi. She meets the old pho-seller Hung, whose loyal customers of his rich, steaming soup help Maggie summon up those terrible times after 1975. Gibb paints an indelible portrait of loss and redemption in the aftermath of conflict.

More about: The Penguin Press, The Beauty of Humanity Movement, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store

Webinar: Booklist (register now)


Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber
(W.W. Norton & Co., 978-0-393-06461-2)
Brian and Avis Muir's daughter Felice ran away from home at age thirteen, creating a fault line in the family that has never healed. The author's portrait of gorgeous, corrupt Miami mirrors the spiritual emptiness of the Muirs as they struggle with guilt and self-indulgence.

More about: W.W. Norton & Co., Birds of Paradise, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound. SONY ReaderTM Store


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
(Knopf, 978-0-307-70000-1)
Otsuka gives voice to the Japanese women who came to the U.S. as mail-order brides in the early 20th century. Uncertain of what they would find, they endured difficult lives in communities that had no place for them, and banishment to internment camps in World War II. Told in the first person plural, this is a riveting, poetic testament to their strength and resilience.

More about: Knopf, The Buddha in the Attic, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


Dance Lessons by Áine Greaney
(Syracuse University Press, 978-0-8156-0984-1)
When Ellen Boisvert's husband Fintan dies, she travels to the seaside Irish village where he grew up, to meet the mother he never told her about. Ill and embittered, Jo Dowd reveals the tangled life that Fintan fled. Greaney's empathy for her characters and her depiction of their emotional lives is compelling and nuanced.

More about: Syracuse University Press, Dance Lessons, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo
(Free Press, 978-1-4165-8393-6)
In this lyrical memoir about food, love, and war, journalist Ciezadlo takes us to the dangerous Middle Eastern cities where she and her Lebanese husband work. In the midst of the violence, food helps her unravel the culture, history and behavior of the people she meets. Recipes included.

More about: Free Press, Day of Honey, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell
(Grand Central Publishing, 978-0-446-53578-6)
A mother's trial for the attempted murder of her three children is the startling opening of this tale about a sister's responsibility for her unstable sibling. This is a gripping tale of family dynamics and mental illness.

More about: Grand Central Publishing, The Good Sister, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
(Mariner Books, 978-0-547-42318-0)
Two stories alternate and intertwine in surprising ways in this vivid novel set in the 1950s Bohemian London art scene and today. When Lexie Sinclair ran away from her dull country life, she set in motion a chain of events that resonates in the lives of Elina and her husband Ted, fifty years later.

More about: Mariner Books, The Hand That First Held Mine, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


If You Knew Then What I Know Now by Ryan Van Meter
(Sarabande Books, 978-1-932511-94-9) In 14 linked essays, Van Meter describes with grace and humor, the pain and heartbreak of his childhood, when he knew he was different, but couldn't comprehend how. Poignant and insightful, Van Meter asks us to think about the ways in which we use language to define others and ourselves.

More about: Sarabande Books, If You Knew Then What I Know Now, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira Bartók
(Free Press, hardcover 978-1-4391-8331-1; paper 978-1-4391-8332-8)
Bartók and her sister were forced to sever relations with their gifted but schizophrenic mother, changing their names and using post office boxes to collect mail. Year later, Bartók suffers loss of memory from a brain injury and tries to reconstruct the landscape of her childhood as her mother is dying of cancer, in this disturbing, gorgeously written memoir.

More about: Free Press, The Memory Palace, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
(Penguin Books, 978-0-14-311913-5)
Midwife Mary Sutter yearns to become a doctor but has been turned away by the all-male medical establishment. The Civil War offers her an opportunity to work in a field hospital, where her courage and talent help her through the hard work and heartbreak in this realistic narrative of early medicine and a woman's ambition.

More about: Penguin Books, My Name Is Mary Sutter, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store

Webinar: Booklist (register now)


Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
(Algonquin Books, 978-156512-990-0)
Dana is the secret daughter of James, a bigamist; in the Atlanta of the 1980s. As she grows up, struggling with her shame and anger, she secretly watches Chaurisse, the legal daughter, until their paths inexorably cross. A troubling coming-of-age novel about the obligations of love and family.

More about: Algonquin Books, Silver Sparrow, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store

Webinar: Booklist (register now)


The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
(Voice, 978-1-4013-4170-1)
For Vivienne de la Mare, living on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, the German occupation during World War II brings privation, unexpected romance, and a moral dilemma. Leroy effortlessly weaves the history of wartime Guernsey into this historical tale.

More about: Hyperion/Voice, The Soldier's Wife, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
(Picador, 978-0-312-57060-6)
When poet and professor Mia Fredericksen's husband Boris announces he wants a "pause" from their marriage for an affair, Mia heads for Minnesota, her childhood home, to recover her equilibrium. She encounters women of all ages and temperaments; the insight she gains from her time with them provides food for thought for Mia and reader alike.

More about: Picador The Summer Without Men, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
(Other Press, 978-1-59051-466-5)
When 12-year old Blessing is uprooted from middle-class life in Lagos, Nigeria, she learns some hard lessons about politics, love, and the old traditions. A strong coming-of-age novel with an unusual setting.

More about: Other Press, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound SONY ReaderTM Store


To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
(Little, Brown and Co., 978-0-316-12739-4)
Judith Whitman, unhappy with her current Los Angeles job and husband, decides to reconnect with an old love in small town Nebraska where she grew up. When he responds with an urgent plea, she is drawn back into memories of her earlier life.

More about: Little, Brown and Co., To Be Sung Underwater, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
(Harper Paperbacks, 978-0-06-200134-4)
When Martin Owenby learns that his older brother Leon is missing, he's drawn back to the North Carolina mountain town of his boyhood. For the fractured Owenby clan, the search for Leon is also a search for healing and redemption. Told in four voices, this is a melancholy Southern tale, filled with memorable characters and family secrets.

More about: Harper Paperbacks, Under the Mercy Trees, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
(Bloomsbury USA, 978-1-60819-534-3)
Elly and her older brother, Joe, appear to be just like everyone else, but heartbreaking, sometimes shocking secrets lurk below the surface for the siblings and their friends, and the weight of those sorrows reverberates through their lives. Leavened with humor and insight, this deeply felt novel is rich in characterization and sense of place.

More about: Bloomsbury USA, When God Was a Rabbit, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
(Akashic Books, hardcover 978-1-936070-86-2; paper 978-1-936070-71-8)
When 9-year old Michelle, half Japanese, moves in with her grandparents in rural Wisconsin in 1973, she encounters prejudice so ingrained that violence is certain to erupt, especially after a black teacher is hired at the local school. Michelle's strong relationship with her grandfather, who shares his love of nature and baseball, contrasts sharply with the senseless hatred and ignorance around her.

More about: Akashic Books, Wingshooters, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
(Simon & Schuster, 978-1-4391-7588-0)
Between two wars — Vietnam and Iraq — we follow members of an Iowa farming family as they age, grow, and chase after happiness. Each chapter focuses on a different character, building to a rich portrait of Middle America in a time of confusing social and economic change.

More about: Simon & Schuster, The Year We Left Home, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store


You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 978-0-399-15720-2)
A haunting collection of linked stories about the women who wait on a military base for the soldiers who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Burdened with their own fears and secrets, the women await the return of husbands who may no longer be the men they knew and loved.

More about: Amy Einhorn Books, You Know When the Men Are Gone, Booklist Reviews, Reading Group Choices, Reading Group Guides

Community: Copia — Read Better Together (join a reading group), Goodreads

Bonus resources: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Copia, IndieBound, SONY ReaderTM Store

Webinar: Booklist (register now)


National Reading Group Month Marketing Toolkit

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
Great Group Reads Selections — 2016


National Reading Group Month Featured Books — 2017




National Reading Group Month Signature Event



Endorsements and Accolades


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