East Central Regional Library

Serving libraries in East Central Minnesota: Aitkin, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and  Pine Counties

Book Club Kits - Adult and Teen

ECRL Book Club Kits contain 12 copies of each title, and specific guides for of the book for use by book club members, as well as other information of interest to both novice and seasoned book club members.  Each kit comes in a plastic tote box. 

ECRL Book Club Kits may be reserved up to one year in advance.  Consult  any local ECRL Branch to reserve a title, or for more information.

ECRL Book Club Kits were started in 2002 with a grant from the Minnesota Library Association Foundation, with matching funds from book clubs in North Branch, Pine City and Princeton libraries.  Donations for additional titles are welcomed.  To donate to the ECRL Book Club Kit project, contact your local ECRL librarian, or call Headquarters, 763-689-7390, 1-888-234-1293.

Search the library catalog for Book Club Kits    enter the search term "book group discussion kit"

Thank you for your interest in the ECRL Book Club Kits!

ADULT BOOK CLUB KIT LIST


Title

Author

Description

90 Minutes in Heaven:  True Story of Life & Death
Don Piper

On the way home from a conference, Don Piper's car was crushed by a semi-truck that crossed into his lane. Medical personnel said he died instantly. While his body lay lifeless inside the ruins of his car, Piper experienced the glories of heaven, awed by its beauty and music.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:  a Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.  Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
April 1865:  The Month That Saved America Jay Winik

Jay Winik explores the end of the Civil War in a panoramic narrative that takes readers on a journey through the tumultuous month of April 1865, showing that America's future rested on a few crucial decisions and twists of fate.

Art Forger
B. A. Shapiro

Boston painter Claire Roth has survived financially by painting reproductions, so when influential gallery owner Aiden Markel arrives with a bizarre proposal--her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--she says yes. As she works, Claire and Aiden become lovers, but she doesn't tell him about her discovery that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This knowledge is Claire's lifeline when the finished forgery is discovered, Aiden and then Claire are both arrested, and only she can save them.

Aviator's Wife
Melanie Benjamin

Despite her own major achievements--she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States--Anne Morrow Lindbergh is viewed merely as Charles Lindbergh's wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life's infinite possibilities for change and happiness

Baker Towers Jennifer Haigh

The decade following World War II becomes one of tragedy, excitement, and unexpected change for the five Novak children and the residents of their western Pennsylvania community of company houses, church festivals, and union squabbles.

 

Big Sky
A. B. Guthrie

Relates the adventures of Boone Caudill, a mountain man in the American West of the mid-nineteenth century.

Blind Your Ponies
Stanley Gordon West

Stanley Gordon West's latest novel is set in the early 1990s in the small eastern Montana town of Willow Creek.  Residents in this small Montana town learn life lessons from its long-losing high school basketball team and coach. 

Blueberry Summers:  Growing Up at the Lake
Curtiss Anderson

This memoir of wonderful summers growing up at a Minnesota lake brings back nostalgic personal memories to the reader! This is the story of Anderson’s family and friends and their 30 summers spent with his parents at their summer cottage on Pelican Lake in Minnesota.  The Scandinavian relatives are quite a crew - much can be learned from them. The slower pace, home made food, fresh berries and produce - it all comes together with the water, boats, fishing and just plain living.

Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison
This is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful as beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigold in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change -- in painful, devastating ways.
Bold Spirit:  Helga Estby's forgotten walk across Victorian America Linda Hunt

In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant and mother of eight children named Helga Estby was behind on taxes and the mortgage when she learned that a mysterious sponsor would pay $10,000 to a woman who walked across America . This book told nearly a century later is about her extraordinary journey.

Bones of Plenty Lois Phillips Hudson

This is a powerful and absorbing novel about the struggles of a proud North Dakota wheat-farming family during the Great Depression.  Hudson eloquently portrays George Custer, a determined and angry man who must battle both the land and the landlords; his hard-working wife, Rachel; and their young and vulnerable daughter, Lucy.  Through their compelling story looms a sense of a whole nation’s tragedy.

Boy From C-11: 
Case 9164
Harvey Ronglien
"The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children housed more than ten thousand children during its sixty year history.  Harvey Ronglien shows readers a panoramic view of this institution, first through the eyes of a child, then as an adult and finally as its most proactive and respected historia." - Joan Claire Graham
Camel Bookmobile
Masha Hamilton

Establishing a bookmobile in a destitute Kenyan village, well-intentioned Fiona Sweeney inadvertently renews a decades old tribal feud involving a camel-powered bookmobile and prior efforts to promote local education.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany
Susan Vreeland

Louis Comfort Tiffany staffs his studio with female artisans--a decision that protects him from strikes by the all-male union--but refuses to employ women who are married. Lucky for him, Clara Driscoll's romantic misfortunes insure that she can continue to craft the jewel-toned glass windows and lamps that catch both her eye and her imagination.

Cutting Season
Attica Locke

When the dead body of a young woman is found on the grounds of Belle Vie, the estate's manager, Caren Gray, launches her own investigation into Belle Vie's history, which leads her to a centuries old mystery involving the plantation's slave quarters--and her own past.

Day After Night
Anita Diamont

Four young women haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as the confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

Dear Life
Alice Munro

A collection of stories illuminates moments that shape a life, from a dream or a sexual act to simple twists of fate, and is set in the countryside and towns of Lake Huron.

Dial M:  The Murder of Carol Thompson
William Swanson

Through police records, court transcripts, family papers, and extensive interviews, William Swanson has recreated Middle America’s “crime of the century,” the deadly plot by a husband that made headlines around the world in March 1963. 

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
Anne Tyler
Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not her memory. Ever since 1944 when her husband left her, she has raised her three very different children on her own. Now grown, they have gathered together—with anger, with hope, and with a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell.
Fire in the Blood
Irene Nemirovsky

At the center of the tale is Silvio, who in his younger years fled the boredom of the village for of travel and adventure, returns to live in a farmer's hovel in the middle of the woods. Much to his family's dismay, Silvio is content with his solitude. But when he attends the wedding of his favorite young cousin, Silvio begins to be drawn back into the complicated life of this small town. As the narration unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the loves and infidelities, the scandals, the youthful ardor and regrets of age that tie Silvio to the long-guarded secrets of the past.

First Words
Joyce Sutphen

Minnesota’s poet laureate, Joyce Sutphen, grew up on a working dairy farm, and her poems recover this lost world, with all its beauty and order. This collection traces a shift in the rural landscape from horses to tractors, from haystacks to hay bales---and watches as time ages and changes the people who make up the story.

Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

Abandoned on a 1913 voyage to Australia, Nell is raised by a dock master and his wife who do not tell her until she is an adult that she is not their child, leading Nell to return to England and eventually hand down her quest for answers to her granddaughter.

The Friday Night Knitting Club

Kate Jacobs

Once a week, an eclectic group of women comes together at a New York City yarn shop to work on their latest projects and share the stories of their lives.  At the center of Walker and Daughter is the shop’s owner, Georgia, who is overwhelmed with juggling the store and single-handedly raising her teenage daughter.  She escapes the demands of life at the Friday Night Knitting Club, but when her daughter’s father shows up, her world is shattered.  The women in the club discover that what they’ve created isn’t just a knitting club, it’s a sisterhood. 

Giants in the Earth
O. E. Rolvaag

In the summer of 1873, Per Hansa, his wife Beret, their children, and three other Norwegian immigrant families—Tonseten and his wife Kjersti, Hans Olsa and his wife Sorine, and the Solum brothers—settle in the Dakota Territory. Per's family becomes lost when they separate from the other wagons, but they eventually reache their destination. They establish a small settlement along Spring Creek, and everyone starts building sod-houses.

The Good Dream
Donna VanLiere

Denounced by her 1950 Tennessee community as an old maid, 30-something Ivorie Walker hides her loneliness and grief over her mother's death behind good-humored independence before advocating on behalf of a feral boy who has been stealing vegetables from her garden.

Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

Depicts the hardships and suffering endured by the Joads as they journey from Oklahoma to California during the Depression.

Greater Journey:  Americans in Paris
David McCullough

McCullough mixes famous and obscure names and delivers capsule biographies of everyone to produce a colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris.

Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

January 1946:  Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

Half Broke Horses
Jeannette Walls

A true life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author’s grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a huge ranch in Arizona.

Hanna’s Daughters

Marianne Fedrikkson

Sweeping through one hundred years of Scandinavian history, this luminous story follows three generations of Swedish women – a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter – whose lives are linked through a century of great love and great loss.

 

Haunted Ground
Erin Hart

The Irish landscape holds secrets past and present as archaeologist Cormac O'Callaghan and pathologist Nora Gavin encounter a mystery when a decapitated woman is found in the bogs who may be related to a recent mother/child disappearance.

The Heart Can be Filled Anywhere on Earth Bill Holm

After living all over the United States and teaching in China, Holm reapplies himself with gusto and grandiloquence to life as lived in his hometown, the minute Minneota, Minnesota. "The Music of Failure," the book's centerpiece essay, showcases most of Holm's themes: the values of the local past, the particulars of family chronicles, the uses of memory, and, in contrast to these qualities, America's rootless lack of history and its obsession with individual success.

The Help
Kathryn Stockett

Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Jamie For

Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou

Poet Maya Angelou chronicles her early life, focusing on her childhood in 1930s rural Arkansas, including her rape at the age of five, her subsequent years of muteness, and the strength she gained from her grandmother and Mrs. Bertha Flowers, a respected African-American woman in her town.

Ice Princess
Camilla Lackberg

After she returns to her hometown to learn that her friend, Alex, was found in an ice-cold bath with her wrists slashed, biographer Erica Falck researches her friend's past in hopes of writing a book and joins forces with Detective Patrik Hedstrom, who has his own suspicions about the case.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Infidel
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The author recounts the story of her life, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia and escape from a forced marriage to her efforts to promote women's rights while surviving numerous threats to her safety.

Iron Lake
William Kent Krueger

Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota (population 3,752).  As a blizzard buries Aurora and an old medicine man warns of the arrival of a blood-thirsty mythic beast called the Windigo, Cork must dig for answers hard and fast before more people, among them those he loves, will die.

Julie & Julia: my year of cooking Dangerously Julie Powell

On a visit to her childhood home in Texas, Julie Powell pulls her mother's battered copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking off the bookshelf. And the book calls out to her. Pushing thirty, living in a run-down apartment in Queens, and working at a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell is stuck. She invents a deranged assignment: in the space of one year, she will cook every recipe in the Julia Child classic, all 524 of them. No skips, no substitutions. And if it doesn't help her make sense of her life, at least she'll eat really, really well. How hard could it be?

 

The Kitchen Boy  Robert Alexander

A young kitchen boy, as the only surviving witness, tells his tale of the 1918 Bolshevik revolutionary murder of Czar Nicholas II and the rest of the Russian royal family.

The Lace Reader

Brunonia Barry

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations.  Now the disappearance of two women is bringing Towner back home to Salem – and is brining to light the shocking truth about the death of her twin sister.

Lake Wobegon Days
Garrison Keillor

A young narrator chronicles his coming-of-age in Minnesota's Lake Wobegon, a fictitious small town where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.  Funded with money from Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society and the Statewide Initiative Fund.

Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own past.

The Last Letter Home
Vilhem Moberg

Book 4 in the Emigrant series portrays the Nilsson family during the turmoil of living through the era of the Civil War and Dakota Conflict and their prospering in the midst of Minnesota's growing Swedish community of the 1860s-90s.

Last of the Breed
Louis L'Amour

Shot down over Soviet airspace and taken captive, U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack makes a daring escape into the Siberian wilderness. Accompanied by a fellow escapee, Mack must rely on his Native American ancestry and skills if he is to survive his long journey and elude his pursuer, the famous tracker known as Alekhin the Yakut.

Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
Louise Erdrich
For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Compelled to his task by a direct mystical experience, Father Damien has made enormous sacrifices, and experienced the joys of commitment as well as deep suffering. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. He imagines the undoing of all that he has accomplished -- sees unions unsundered, baptisms nullified, those who confessed to him once again unforgiven.
The Last Runaway
Tracy Chevalier

Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is compelled to join the Underground Railroad network to help runaway slaves escape to freedom.

The Latehomecomer

Kao Kalia Yang

Presents the journey from a refugee camp in Thailand to Minnesota and the hardships and joys of Kao Kalia’s Hmong family’s struggle to adapt to a strange culture while holding onto traditions that are passed down from her beloved grandmother

Lazy B: Growing up on a cattle ranch in the American Southwest Sandra Day O’Connor On a cattle ranch in the southeast corner of Arizona, without electricity or indoor plumbing, a little girl grew up and went on to become the most powerful women in America.

 
Life of Pi    Yann Martel

En route with his family from their home in India to Canada, their cargo ship sinks, and Pi finds himself adrift in a lifeboat -- alone, save for a few surviving animals, some of the very same animals Pi's zookeeper father warned him would tear him to pieces if they got a chance. Pi's seafaring journey becomes a test of survival, but of everything he's learned -- about man and beast, their creator, and the nature of truth itself.

 

The Light Between the Oceans
M. L. Stedman

 After the horror of World War I, Tom Sherbourne welcomes his new job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island with no residents aside from him and his wife Isabel. But times on the island are tough for Isabel as she suffers multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth in just four years’ time. When a boat with a dead man and a young baby washes ashore, Isabel convinces Tom to let her keep the baby as their own, but the consequences to her actions may be dire.

Lilah
Marek Halter
The Old Testament is brought to vivid life through the eyes of Lilah, a woman whose choice between loyalty to her brother and marriage to the man she loves will have a lasting impact on the fate of her people.
Little Bee
Chris Cleave
A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disperate strangers - one an illegal Nigerian refugee and the other a recent widow from suburban London.
Long March:  True History of China’s Founding Myth Sun Shuyun

The Long March is Communist China's founding myth. Seventy years afterwards, Sun Shuyun set out to retrace its steps and discovered the true history behind the legend. The facts: in 1934, in the midst of civil war, the Communist party and its 200,000 soldiers were forced from their bases by the Nationalists. After that, truth and legend begin to blur: led by Mao Zedong, the Communists set off on a strategic retreat to the distant barren north of China, thousands of miles away. Only one in five reached their destination, where, the legend goes, they gathered strength and returned to launch the new China in the heat of revolution.

Long-Shining Waters
Danielle Sosin

Lake Superior, the north country, the great fresh-water expanse. Frigid. Lethal. Wildly beautiful. The Long-Shining Waters gives us three stories whose characters are separated by centuries and circumstance, yet connected across time by a shared geography. In 1622, Grey Rabbit-an Ojibwe woman, a mother and wife-struggles to understand a dream-life that has taken on fearful dimensions. As she and her family confront the hardship of living near the "big water," her psyche and her world edge toward irreversible change. In 1902, Berit and Gunnar, a Norwegian fishing couple, also live on the lake. Berit is unable to conceive, and the lake anchors her isolated life, testing the limits of her endurance and spirit. And in 2000, when Nora, a seasoned bar owner, loses her job and is faced with an open-ended future, she is drawn reluctantly into a road trip around the great lake. Rich in historical detail, and universal in its exploration of the human desire for meaning when faced with uncertainty.

Loving Frank
Nancy Horan

So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.

Lowland
Jhumpa Lahiri

Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives--Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America--until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.

Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Julie Klassen

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother.

Main Street
Sinclair Lewis

Features the story of a college graduate from St. Paul who leaves to marry a doctor in a small, middle-class town, only to find her efforts to bring culture and beauty to the town thwarted by its residents, testing her idealism.  Funded with money from Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society and the Statewide Initiative Fund.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand Helen Simonson

Forced to confront the realities of life in the twenty-first century when he falls in love with Pakistani widow Mrs. Ali, Major Pettigrew finds the relationship challenged by local prejudices that view Mrs. Ali, a Cambridge native, as a perpetual foreigner.

Mayflower
Nathaniel Philbrick

Offers the true story of the pioneers who crossed the Atlantic to establish a new world in Massachusetts, the challenges they faced upon their arrival, and their relationship with the local Native Americans.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter Kim Edwards Edwards's novel hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father's disavowal of his newborn daughter. A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter's handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul's twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. David's deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters' lives, and Phoebe's absence corrodes her birth family's core over the course of the next 25 years.
Midwives

Christopher Bohjalian

A talented midwife is arrested for murder when she saves a baby by performing a Caesarean section once she believes the mother has died--only to have her assistant insist later that the woman was still very much alive. Told in the mesmerizing voice of the midwife's daughter, Midwives depicts the aftermath of the tragedy.

Moloka’i Alan Brennert  The story of Rachel Kalama, a young native Hawaiian girl growing up in Honolulu at the end of the 19th century, who at age seven is diagnosed with Hansen’s disease, taken from her family, and exiled to the leprosy settlement on a remote peninsula on the island of Moloka’i. 
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train
William Kuhn

After decades of service and years of watching her family's troubles splashed across the tabloids, Britain's Queen is beginning to feel her age. An unexpected opportunity offers her relief: an impromptu visit to a place that holds happy memories--the former royal yacht, Britannia, now moored near Edinburgh. When her royal attendants discover she is missing, they set out to find her and bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.

Murder at Spirit Falls
Barbara Deese

Perched above Spirit Falls in the lush Wisconsin woodland, Robin Bentley's cabin is remote enough for her and her book club friends to shed the restraints of city living, hike in the woods, take moonlight walks and go skinny-dipping under the waterfall. But when a body washes up below the falls, the No Ordinary Women find themselves up to their bifocals in a real mystery. And one of them could be the next victim.

My Antonia
Willa Cather

The unforgettable story of an immigrant woman’s life on the Nebraska plains.  The novel portrays a community struggling with unforgiving terrain and a woman, Antonia Shimerda, who amid great hardship, stands as a timeless inspiration. 

My Beloved World
Sonia Sotomayor