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In honor of book groups

In honor of book groups

For many passionate readers, book groups are our reading family. Like all families, there may be a few dud selections, the equivalent of the second cousin who spends holiday dinners staring at a screen, or the uncle who farts, but we still love them. I have two book group families. One group, which has been going for over a decade, is through a local indie bookstore. I love the fact that it’s open to anyone who has read the month’s book and wants to discuss it. I also love that about 1/3 of the time we invite the author to join us.

The other group, which we call Stones and Bones, started in 1994 as a group of friends, originally convened at the Odyssey Bookshop. We chose the name because we noticed how many books we discussed that first year or two had “stones” or “bones” in the title (Stones from the River, The Bone People, Stone Diaries.) Over the past 22 years, the group has lost and gained members and has moved from meeting at the bookstore to members’ homes, but continues to offer us an opportunity to read books we otherwise probably would not have chosen, and to enjoy the books a second time through discussion. Although most meetings involve sitting around someone’s living room talking about a novel, we’ve tried different bookish activities, ranging from weekends on Martha’s Vineyard (discussing novels set there, of course) to reading poetry to each other.

In honor of this group, and all book groups, I’d like to share our twenty-two years of literary selections.

Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko
Indian Lawyer, James Welch
Bless Me Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya
The Bone People, Keri Hulme
A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
Middlemarch, George Elliot
Sanctuary, William Faulkner
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
Jasmine, Bharati Mukhargee

Meeting at the Crossroads, Brown and Gilligan
Girl Interrupted, Susana Kaysen
Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy
Emma, Jane Austen
Mating, Norman Rush
Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
Journal of a Solitude, May Sarton
House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Stones from the River, Ursula Hegi
In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O’Brien

These Same Long Bones, Gwendolyn Parker
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams
Regeneration, Pat Barker
Philadelphia Fire, John Edgar Wideman
A Feather on the Breath of God, Sigrid Nunez
In the Time of the Butterflies Julia Alvarez
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Jung Chang
Reviving Orphelia, Mary Pipher
A Very Long Engagement, S Japrisot
Taft, Ann Patchet

City of coughing and dead radiators, Martín Espada
Liars Club, Mary Karr
The House on the Lagoon, Rosario Ferré
In This Dark House, Louise Kehoe
Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga
Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
What the Scarecrow Said, Steward David Ikeda
Push, Saffire
American Requiem, James Carroll
Beat Not the Bones, Charlotte Jay
My Antonia, Willa Cather
The Passion, Jeannette Winterson

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Martin Dresler, Steven Milhausen
Tinisima, Elena Poniatowska
Solar Storms, Linda Hogan
The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve
What Girls Learn, Karin Cook
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
The Color of Water, James Bride
Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman
Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie

Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels
Poetry potpourri, multiple poets
The Rapture of Canaan, Sherri Reynolds
Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Charming Billy, Alice McDermott
Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha, Roddy Doyle
Killing Mr. Watson, Peter Matthiessen
The Romance Reader, Pearl Abraham
Ophelia Speaks, Sara Shandler
Real Boys, William Pollack

The Archivist, Martha Cooley
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout
Damascus Gate, Robert Stone
A Beautiful Mind, Sylvia Nazar
Love of a Good Woman, Alice Munroe
The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanish Kureishi
Plainsong, Kent Haruf
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
The Wedding, Dorothy West
Waiting, Ha Jin

The Pleasing Hour, Lily King
Girl with the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness, Jane Lazarre
Half a Heart, Rosellen Brown
A Recipe for Bees, Gail Anderson-Dargatz
Native Speaker, Chang-Rae Lee
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus
Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wallace Stegner

Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
American Pastoral, Philip Roth
The Last Life, Claire Messud
All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald
The Map of Love, Ahdaf Soueif
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, Louise Erdrich
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
Empire Falls, Richard Russo
Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
Women of the Silk, Gail Tsukiyama

The Good German, Joseph Kanon
Loveship, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Marriage, Alice Munroe
Caucasia, Danzy Senna
Servants of the Map, Andrea Barrett
Year of Wonders, Gwendolyn Brooks
Atonement, Ian McEwan
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
When the Elephants Dance, Tess Uriza
The Quiet American, Graham Greene

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, ZZ Packer
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
The Conservationist, Nadine Gordimer
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azis Nahisi
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Going After Cacciato, Tim O’Brien
Rattlebone, Maxine Claire

The Photograph, Penelope Lively
The Kite Runner, Khalid Hasseni
Easter Island, Jennifer Vanderbes
Breaking the Tongue, Vyvyane Loh
Getting Mother's Body, Suzan Lori Parks
Red Dust, Gillian Slovo
No Great Mischief, Alastair MacLeod
Snow, Orhan Pamuk
Prague, Arthur Phillips

Prince Edward, Dennis McFarland
Aloft, Chang Rae-Lee
Broken Verses, Kamila Shamsie
Saturday, Ian McEwan
Small Island, Andrea Levy
Abide with Me, Elizabeth Strout
Pearl, Mary Gordon
Dragon Bones, Lisa See
Purple Hibiscus, Chamamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz
Specimen Days, Michael Cunningham

The Good Wife, Stewart O’Nan
Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
Karma and Other Stories, Rishi Reddi
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Gate of the Sun, Elias Khoury
Kindred, Octavia Butler
Birds in Fall, Brad Kessler
Intuition, Allegra Goodman
Astrid and Veronika, Linda Olsson
The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier
The Post Birthday World, Lionel Shriver
Olive Kittredge, Elizabeth Strout
The Gathering, Ann Enright
In Revere, In Those Days, Roland Merullo
Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum
Winter’s Bone, Daniel Woodrell
Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones

Ordinary Wolves, Seth Katnor
Bridge of Sighs, Rick Russo
The Air We Breathe, Andrea Barrett
March, Geraldine Brooks
Mudbound, Hillary Jordan
In the Woods, Tana French
People of the Whale, Linda Hogan
Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie

Driftless, David Rhodes
The Great Man, Kate Christensen
The Soul Thief, Charles Baxter
The Believers, Zoe Heller
Into the Beautiful North, Luis Alberto Urrea
Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
Little Bee, Chris Cleave
Martyrs Crossing, Amy Wilentz
Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
The Twin, Gerbrand Bakker

The Children’s Book, A.S. Byatt
American Rust, Philip Meyer
House Arrest, Ellen Meeropol
Where the God of Love Hangs Out, Amy Bloom
Await Your Reply, Dan Chaon
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Italian Shoes, Henning Mankell
Binocular Vision, Edith Pearlman
The Bells, Richard Harvell
Quiet Americans, Erika Dreifus

The Call, Yannick Murphy
The Devil in Dover, Lauri Lebo
He, She, and It, Marge Piercy
In the Garden of the Beasts, Erik Larsen
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
Growing Up Delicious, Marianne Banks
The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
Blood, Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
End of the Affair, Graham Greene

Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger
Salvage the Bones, Jessmyn Ward
Room, Emma Donoghue
The Borrower, Rebecca Makkai
Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Alexandra Fuller
The Round House, Louise Erdrich
The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson
A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, Anthony Marra
Remembering the Bones, Frances Itani

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon
Galore, Michael Crummey
We Are Water, Wally Lamb
My Own Country, Abraham Verghese
Dear Life, Alice Munro
July's People, Nadine Gordimer
White Dog Fell from the Sky, Eleanor Morse
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, Jennifer Finney Boylan
Illusion of Separateness, Simon van Booy

Isle of Youth, Laura van den Berg
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Jonathan Ferris
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
On Hurricane Island, Ellen Meeropol
Norwegian by Night, Derek Miller
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande & Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
Emma and Otto and Russell and James, Emily Hooper
Honeydew, Edith Pearlman

2016 (read and/or planned)
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Among the 10,000 Things, Julia Pierpont
The Enchanted, Rene Denfield
In the Country, Mia Alvar
Mourner’s Bench, Sanderia Faye

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