Book discussion groups

I have been moderating  the Leonardtown (Maryland) Public Library Discussion Group  for many years and can both recommend books (classic and contemporary) and suggest ways to generate discussion of the books you’ve chosen (assuming, of course, that I’ve read them).  E-mail me: rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu.  I will not post any ideas that come up in our correspondence until I have first obtained your permission.

July 1998

07/98  Wartime Lies by Louis Begely
07/98  Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
08/98  Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
08/98  Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Titles read sometime between 9/98-12-99

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Roxanne by Jane Miner
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Therapy by David Lodge
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
God of Small Things by Arundati Roy
Ceremony by Leslie Silko
The Reader by Bernard Schlink
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Marie Borroff translation)


01/00  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
02/00  Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich
03/00  Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
04/00  Poisonwood Bible by Barbaara Kingsolver
05/00  Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
06/00  Chocolat by Joanne Harris
07/00  Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
08/00  Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
09/00  Emma by Jane Austen
10/00  Leaps of Faith by Rachel Kranz
11/00  Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
12/00  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis


01/01  The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
02/01  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
03/01  Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
04/01  Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
05/01  Angels and Insects by A. S. Byatt
06/01  Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
07/01  Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
08/01  Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
09/01  Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
10/01  House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
11/01  The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
12/01  The Giver by Lois Lowry


1/02   The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
2/02   Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
3/02   House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus
4/02   Beowulf—Seamus Heaney translation
5/02   Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
6/02   Middlemarch by George Eliot
7/02   To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
8/02   Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
9/02   Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
10/02  My Antonia by Willa Cather
11/02  Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman
12/02  Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle


1/03 Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
2/03 The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
3/03 Son of the Circus by John Irving
4/03 Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
5/03 Bingo Palace by Louise Erdrich
6/03 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
7/03 The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
8/03 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
9/03 Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
10/03 Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
11/03 Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
12/03 Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll


1/04 Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
2/04 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
3/04 White Noise by Don DeLillo
4/04 Cry Beloved Country by Alan Paton
5/04 Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
6/04 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
7/04 The Quiet American by Graham Greene
8/04 Tender is the Night by F. Sscott Fitzgerald
9/04  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
10/04 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
11/04 Le Divorce by Diane Johnson
12/04 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


1/05 The Awakening—Kate Chopin
2/05 The Jane Austen Book Club—Karen Joy Fowler
3/05 Lolita—Vladimir Nabokov
4/05 The Lovely Bones—Alice Sebold
5/05 Mrs. Dalloway—Virginia Woolf
6/05 The Hours—Michael Cunningham
7/05 The Human Stain—Philip Roth
8/05  All the King’s Men—Robert Penn Warren
9/05 Wise Blood—Flannery O’Connor
10/05 The Turn of the Screw—Henry James
11/05 The Curious Incident of the Dog—Mark Haddon
12/05 The Wind in the Willows—Kenneth Graham


1/06 Heart of Darkness—Joseph Conrad
2/06 Year of Wonders—Geraldine Brooks
3/06 A Separate Peace—John Knowles
4/06 Empire Falls—Richard Russo
5/06 The Return of the Native—Thomas Hardy
6/06 The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini
7/06 The Seven Sisters—Margaret Drabble
8/06 Lonesome Dove—Larry McMurtry
9/06 Atonement—Ian McEwan
10/06 Slaughterhouse Five—Kurt Vonnegut
11/06 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—James Joyce
12/06 A Christmas Memory—Truman Capote & A Child’s Christmas in Wales—Dylan Thomas


1/07 King Lear—William Shakespeare
2/07 Oroonoko—Aphra Behn
3/07 How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents—Julia Alvarez
4/07 The Importance of Being Earnest—Oscar Wilde
5/07 Digging to America—Anne Tyler
6/07 Crossing to Safety—Wallace Earle Stegner
7/07 Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress—Dai Sijie
8/07 Curtain of Green and Other Stories—Eudora Welty
9/07 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan—Lisa See
10/07 Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love—Dava Sobel
11/07 Pygmalion—George Bernard Shaw
12/07 Silas Marner—George Eliot


1/08 The Sea, The Sea—Iris Murdoch
2/08  The Wished for Country—Wayne Karlin
3/08 A Lesson Before Dying—Ernest J. Gaines
4/08 The Age of Innocence—Edith Wharton
5/08 The Odyssey (Robert Fitzgerald Translation)
6/08 The Penelopiad—Margaret Atwood
7/08 No Country for Old Men—Cormac McCarthy
8/08 The Amazing Adventures of  Kavalier and Clay—Michael Chabon
9/08 Bridge of Sighs—Richard Russo
10/08 A Hope in the Unseen—Ron Suskind
11/08 White Teeth—Zadie Smith
12/08 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever—Barbara Robinson


1/09 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—Gregory Macguire
2/09 The Scarlet Pimpernel—Baroness Emmuska Orczy
3/09 Alexander Hamilton—Ron Chernow
4/09 Back When We Were Grownups—Anne Tyler
5/09   Queen of the Underworld—GailGodwin
6/09 The Family Tree—Barbara Delinsky
7/09 The Dante Club—Matthew Pearl
8/09 The March—E.L. Doctorow
9/09 Song Yet Sung—James McBride
10/09 Cold Comfort Farm—Stella Gibbons
11/09 The Terrorist—John Updike
12/09 Bridge to Terabithia—Katherine Paterson


1/10  The Bible Salesman – Clyde Edgerton
2/10 – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
3/10 – Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
4/10 – Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
5/10 –  The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski
6/10 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
7/10 – The Zookeeper’s Wife Diane Ackerman
8/10 – The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
9/10 –The Year of the Flood  – Margaret Atwood
10/10 – TBD One Maryland One Book
11/10 – The Rape of the Lock –  Alexander Pope
12/10 – Little Women – Louisa May Alcott


January: Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge
February: Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
March: Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone: A Novel
April: Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
May: Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
June: E. M. Forster Passage to India
July: Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
August: Paul Auster, Invisible
September: Maryland read book
October: Juan Gabriel Vasquez, The Informers
November: David Benioff, City of Thieves
December: Richard Adams, Watership Down


The Infinities – John Banville
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht
Rabbit, Run – John Updike
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer – Steven Millhauser
Winesburg, Ohio – Sherwood Anderson
TBD      One Maryland One Book
Tinkers – Paul Harding
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

Bring Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel
Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
The Pearl  – John Steinbeck
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Emily Alone – Steward O’Nan
The Known World – Edward P. Jones
The Right-Hand Shore – Christopher Tilghman
The Round House – Louise Erdrich
King Peggy – Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
Decembers – Edna O’Brien
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White


That Eye, That Sky by Tim Winton
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Someone by Alice McDermott
Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
One Maryland One Book: The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder


Snow’s Rest: A Maryland Mystery by Linda Stewart
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami
Great House by Nicole Krauss
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
One Maryland One Book
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupéry


Home by Marilynne Robinson
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
Imperfect Birds by Anne LaMott
The English Teacher by Lily King
Light in August by William Faulkner
Collected Stories by Raymond Carver
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds (One Maryland One Book)
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (vol I) by Art Spiegelman


The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Fun Home by Allison Bechdel
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Uncle Tom’s Cabin  by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (One Maryland One Book)
Euphoria by Lily King
Mary Poppins by M.L. Travers


Mastery by Rachel Kranz (e-mailed out to group)
The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue 
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
LaRose by Louise Erdrich, 
Maryland One Book
The Orphan’s Tale  by Pam Jenoff
The River Bank by Kij Johnson and Kathleen Jennings


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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