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!





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.

Angels Walking
Karen Kingsbury

Hitting rock bottom might be the best thing that ever happened to former baseball star Tyler Ames when a team of Angels Walking vows to help Tyler reconnect with the love of his life, Sami Dawson. But a woman with Alzheimer's might hold the key to Tyler's happiness.

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.

Blazing Worlds
Siri Hustvedt

Hustvedt tells the provocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After years of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: she presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity. 

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.
Bohemian Flats
Mary Relindes Ellis

Shell shock, as it was called, lands Raimund Kaufmann in a London hospital, a victim of the war but also of his own, and his brother’s, efforts to get out of Germany and build a new life in America. While his recovery eludes him, his memory returns us to Minneapolis, to the Flats, a milling community on the Mississippi River, where Raimund and his brother Albert have sought respite from the oppressive hand of their older brother, now the master of the family farm and brewery. In Minnesota the brothers confront different forms of prejudice, but they also find a chance to remake their lives according to their own principles and wishes—until the war makes their German roots inescapable.

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
The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

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.

Cowboy and Wills:  a remarkable little boy and the dog that changed his life Monica Holloway

The author tells the story of the golden retriever, Cowboy, who changed her son's life after his diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder.

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. 

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. 

GI Brides
Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi

Worn down by years of war and hardship, girls like Sylvia, Margaret, and Gwendolyn were thrilled when American GI's arrived in Britain with their exotic accents, handsome uniforms and aura of Hollywood glamor. Others, like Rae, who distrusted the Yanks, were eventually won over by their easy charm. So when VE Day finally came, for the 70,000 women who'd become GI brides, it was tinged with sadness--it meant leaving their homeland behind to follow their husbands across the Atlantic. And the long voyage was just the beginning of an even bigger journey.

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.

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 Healing
Jonathan Odell

Plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield’s intense grief over losing her daughter crosses the line into madness when she takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague that is sweeping through the plantation’s slave quarters, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave woman known as a healer who immediately senses a spark of the same gift in Granada. Soon, a domestic battle of wills begins, leading to a tragedy that weaves together three generations of strong Southern women.

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.

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.

Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd

Presents the extraordinary journeys of two unforgettable women: Hetty "Handful" Grimki, an urban slave in early-nineteenth century Charleston, and Sarah, the Grimkes' idealistic daughter.

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.

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.

Knit Two
Kate Jacobs

Five years after the death of her mother, Dakota is running their knitting store part time with the help of members of the "Friday Night Knitting Club," each of who is seeking solace in their friendship from their own challenges in life.

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.

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.

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.