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Book Discussions to Go!

Johnson City Public Library has developed a collection of book discussion kits to be checked out as a service to our local area Book Discussion Groups. Each kit contains up to 12 copies of the book along with a Reading Guide. Kits may be checked out for 8 weeks. Kits are checked out to one member of the group, along with a sign-out sheet for the club to keep track of the books. Kits are checked out and returned to the Circulation Desk on the 1st floor of the library. Kits cannot be returned through the outside book drop box. Kits must be returned containing all books; group members cannot return books individually.

For more information or to reserve a book discussion kit, please call 423-434-4455, visit us at the Circulation Desk, or email us at

New Book Kits

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris

The cohost of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” set out, through original reporting, to write a book about “the hidden conversation on race” that is going on in this country. Along the way she unearthed painful family secrets that compelled her to question her own self-understanding; she traveled extensively to explore her own complex racial legacy. Her exploration is informed by hundreds of interviews with ordinary Americans and their observations about evolving attitudes toward race in America.

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. Then he meets Rosie, who is everything he’s not looking for in a wife, but she ends up his friend as he helps her try and find her biological father.


Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

When her massively overweight brother, a once slim, hip New York Jazz pianist, comes for a visit, Pandora is forced to choose between her exercise fanatic husband and her brother, who desperately needs her support in losing weight.

Blame by Michelle Huneven

The journey of a young history professor, Patsy MacLemoore, after accidentally killing a mother and daughter while driving drunk.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. Includes readers’ guide.

The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

Veterinarian Cami Anderson is stymied by her recent divorce, but she finds strange comfort in an unexpected confidant: an angry, unpredictable horse in her care. With the help of her equine soul mate, she begins to make sense of marriage’s great mysteries—and its disconnects.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Based on a true story, tells the tale of a young woman in Iceland in 1829 who was accused of murder and sent to an isolated farm to await execution and tells the farmer’s family her side of the story.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

28 year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, 23 year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriend, not so much.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

When his fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student, assistant district attorney Andy Barber is torn between loyalty and justice as facts come to light that lead him to question how well he knows his own son.

The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer

23 year old Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it–and Mike, her high school sweet heart–behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever.

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

The story of a young man, Mark Schluter, whose brain is injured in a truck accident. Although he largely recovers, he has cognitive impairments, including capgras syndrome, the suspicion that his sister has been replaced by an impostor.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The original manuscript for Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird portrays Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as a young woman returning to her hometown in Maycomb, Alabama in the late 1950s to visit her father Atticus. While addressing many of the same issues as Mockingbird of race and class in the South on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, Watchman is seen through the lens of a woman grappling with her shifting perspective of her family and the Maycomb community.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The daughter of a prominent Chicago judge and his socialite wife, inner-city art teacher Mia Dennett is taken hostage by her one-night stand, Colin Thatcher, who, instead of delivering her to his employers, hides her in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota to keep her safe from harm.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The story about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. A film adaptation was released in 2011.

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The story of a young boy, Amir, struggling to establish a closer rapport with his father and coping with memories of a haunting childhood event. The novel is set in Afghanistan, from the fall of the monarchy until the collapse of the Taliban regime, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in Fremont, California. A film adaptation was released in 2007.

The Language of Flower by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions, but for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude after a childhood spent in the foster-care system. Now 18, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through flowers and an encounter with a stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life.

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Paula and Jackie Archer-Cummings move to Easley, California with their adopted and foster children including 15-year-old Star, a difficult girl who is drawn to the neighbor’s horse Comet. Clementine D’Antonio is not happy with the new neighbors, and she resents the forming bond between Star and Comet because it touches on pain from her own past. When Star and Comet disappear one night, Clem and the Archer-Cummings must work together to find the girl and horse, and in the process learn about compassion and forgiveness.

The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

After the death of her daughter, Julie housesits the Mailbu home of her aunt and uncle where she finds herself drawn to Roberto, the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard and whose daughter was lost but never found.

The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

In this sequel to Ellen Foster, Ellen, now15, is settled into a permanent home with a new mother. But while she holds fast to the shreds of her child¬hood—humoring her best friend, Stuart, who is determined to marry her; and protecting her old neighbor, slow-witted Starletta—she begins to negotiate her way into a larger world.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Moving his young bride to an isolated lighthouse home on Australia’s Janus Rock where the couple suffers miscarriages and a stillbirth, Tom allows his wife to claim an infant that has washed up on the shore, a decision with devastating consequences.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

The story of a 16 year old Nigerian orphan, who calls herself Little Bee, and a well-off British couple, journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday. After a horrific event on the beach Little Bee goes to the journalists’ world and shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world.

Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

Sister John’s visions of God’s radiance lead her toward a deep religious ecstasy, but are accompanied by shattering headaches. When her doctor tells her an illness may be responsible for her gift, Sister John faces a wrenching choice: to risk her intimate glimpses of the divine in favor of a cure, or to continue her visions with the knowledge that they might be false-and might even cost her her life.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the very embodiment of duty and pride. His brother’s death sparks an unexpected relationship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village, but village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

March by Geraldine Brooks

A parallel novel that retells Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women from the point of view of Alcott’s protagonists’ absent father, revealing the events surrounding March’s absence during the American Civil War in 1862. The novel won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Beginning in Kentucky in the 1960’s, the novels tells the story of Dr. David Henry, who secretly gives away one of his newborn twins because she has Down syndrome.

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

A novel focusing on rural Vermont midwife Sibyl Danforth, who becomes embroiled in a legal battle after one of her patients died following an emergency Caesarean section.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

A retelling of the Camelot legend from the point of view of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

First published in 1918, it is the final book of her “prairie trilogy” of novels, the companion volumes being O Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark and celebrated for being written in plainspoken language about ordinary people.

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by the American meat-exporting industry, she begins to uncover some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a very dangerous hormone called DES.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The story spans over thirty years in the life of the Ganguli family. The Calcutta-born parents immigrated as young adults to the United States, where their children, Gogol and Sonia, grow up experiencing the constant generational and cultural gap with their parents. A film adaptation was released in 2007

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga

Widower Rudy Harrington, a father of three grown daughters, leaves his Chicago home for a new life at an avocado grove in Texas, where he takes up philosophy, presides over his daughter’s Hindu wedding, and falls for his son-in-law’s mother.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee

A love story, set in 1950’s Hong Kong, about a married English woman, Claire Pendleton, who is hired by the Chens, a rich Chinese family, to tutor piano to their daughter. Claire has an affair with the Chen’s driver and discovers his past love.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The drama of a U.S. missionary family in Africa during a war of decolonization. At its center is Nathan Price, a self-righteous Baptist minister who establishes a mission in a village in 1959 Belgian Congo. The resulting clash of cultures is seen through the eyes of his wife and his four daughters. By the author of Pigs in Heaven.

Pompeii by Robert Harris

A work of historical fiction with a blend of fictional characters with the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 AD that overwhelmed Pompeii and its surrounding towns.

Room by Emma Donoghue

The story is told from the perspective of a five-year-boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Follows two plots, the 1st is that of 10 year-old Sarah Starzynski, a Jewish girl born in Paris, who is arrested with her parents during the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. Before they go, she locks her 4 year-old brother in a cupboard, thinking the family should be back in a few hours. The 2nd plot follows Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, who is asked to write an article in honor of the 60th anniversary of the roundup.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Eight students gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen as Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Follows a middle-aged man as he reflects on a past he thought was behind him, until he is presented with a legacy that forces him to reconsider different decisions, and to revise his place in the world.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

A dystopian novel and the 1st in the “Shades of Grey” series, the story takes place in Chromatacia, an alternate version of the United Kingdom wherein social class is determined by one’s ability to perceive colour.

Sound of a Train by Gilbert Girion

Gilbert Girion’s novella SOUND OF A TRAIN follows Susan Walker, a woman on a reluctant journey toward what she senses is an impending loss, painfully aware of the isolation she sometimes feels in the midst of friends and family. In this haunting and often humorous story about the unspoken bonds between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, even animals and humans, Susan begins to comprehend the invisible yet powerful ways in which we connect and watch over each other.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

About a drug company employee who journeys to Brazil, to bring back information about seemingly miraculous drug research being conducted there by Dr. Swenson on behalf of the company.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry’s life is not what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is failing, and his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. He is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island and from Amelia, the Knightley Press sales rep who refuses to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore that gives A.J. the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

A retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in rural Wisconsin. The titular character is a mute boy who, after his father is killed, runs away from but then returns to his usurped home, hoping to prove his suspicions that his uncle murdered his father.

The Summer We Got Saved by Pat Cummingham Devoto

The dawn of integration challenges the Southern small town conventions of Bainbridge, AL, bringing unexpected epiphanies to a cast of loosely connected characters, including farmer Charles Rutland, his granddaughters Tab and Tina, and Tab’s friend Maudie May, a polio patient.

Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg

The gripping story of a friendship between two women, Ann and Ruth, which turns tragic when Ruth is diagnosed with breast cancer.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Follow the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, whose lives become entwined. The story is set during Afghanistan’s tumultuous thirty-year transition from Soviet occupation to Taliban control and post-Taliban rebuilding.

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Set in an unnamed Balkan country, in the present and half a century ago, and features a young doctor’s relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her, primarily about the ‘deathless man’ who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a zoo.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

A vampire-romance novel and the first book of the Twilight series. It introduces 17 year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan, who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. A film adaptation was released in 2008.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The story is told as a series of memories by Jacob Jankowski, a ninety (or is it ninety-three) year-old man who lives in a nursing home. Jacob recounts his time with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth Circus in the 1930’s – a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion. A film adaptation was released in 2011.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

Just about everything in Endora, Iowa (pop. 1,091 and dwindling) is eating Gilbert Grape, a twenty-four-year-old grocery clerk who dreams only of leaving.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

The novel provides a darkly humorous perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a village boy.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

It follows the story of Lia, an 18 year-old girl dealing with anorexia and with the news that her ex-best friend Cassie, who was bulimic, has died under mysterious circumstances. The novel follows the course of Lia’s grief and further struggles with anorexia, her difficult relations with her parents and stepmother, and her search to learn about Cassie’s fate.


The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton

Chronicles the story of a Stockton’s adjustment when she moves to Wyoming after living in New York. During this time, she is given a 10 day old coyote pup which she raises. The book describes the joys and troubles she experiences raising a coyote.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

An exposé on the unsanitary and discriminatory practices of the fast food industry and it examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry. A film adaptation was released in 2006.

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

In this book the author traces the story of the unsung World War II workers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. This is the story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling numerous medical and scientific discoveries.

Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree by Lisa Alther

Part sidesplitting travelogue, part how–and how not–to climb your family tree, Kinfolks shimmers with wicked humor, illustrating just how wacky and wonderful our human family really is as Alther embarks on a search to discover if she has Melungeon ancestors.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Millions of Americans work full-time, year-round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job – any job – could be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper on six to seven dollars an hour?

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

An autobiographical graphic novel depicting Satrapi’s childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Adapted into an animated film which debuted in 2007.

Revenge by Laura Blumenfeld

While plotting to infiltrate her father’s shooter’s life, Blumenfeld travels the globe gathering stories of other avengers. Through interviews with Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin; members of the Albanian Blood Feud Committee; the chief of the Iranian judiciary; the mayor of Palermo, Sicily; the Israeli prime minister; priests; sports fans; fifth-grade girls; prostitutes; and more, she explores the dynamics of hate — and the fine line that sometimes separates it from love.

The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer

Moehringer’s memoir details his childhood through his early 20’s, recounting his coming of age experiences at a local bar, Dickens (later renamed Publicans), which served as a sanctuary from his chaotic family life.