Our longest running book group brings together readers who enjoy discussing and sharing insights about a single title each month. Facilitated conversations are lively, intelligent, and insightful. The titles are mostly fiction, with one nonfiction choice included each year. The group chooses titles for the coming year by ballot in the spring. Book discussions are held on the third Wednesday of the month, September through June (no July or August meetings), and all adult patrons enthusiastic about reading and talking about books are invited to join us as often as they can. Before each meeting, you can pick up your copy for the next month’s discussion at the Circulation Desk. If you have questions, please contact Karen Stern at the Reference Desk or email stern@noblenet.org.

Next Meeting: January 16, 2018 at 7:30
To Discuss: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, England in 1960 and now lives near Minneapolis. He started life as a journalist, but quickly began writing other things. He is credited as being one of the creators of modern comics (The Sandman series is his most famous) and is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), as well as the Newbery Medal winning children’s novel The Graveyard Book, the bestselling novels Coraline and Odd and the Frost Giants, and many more. For more about Gaiman, see his website, www.neilgaiman.com – bursting with interviews and writing, as well as a biography in his own words. His work has been honored with too many awards to list here (see also the website). To the delight of librarians everywhere Gaiman describes himself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries….I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries.”

To Think About While You Read: The story is told by an adult through the memories of a child. How does this perspective affect the tale? Are there situations in which you feel a child’s perspective is more truthful or clear-eyed than an adult’s? Is this a fairy tale for adults or is it more appropriate for young adults?

Web Articles for Further Reading:
Neil Gaiman Answers Top Book Club Questions | The Ocean at the End of the Lane – YouTube video with spoilers! www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-kH45WFljQ
It All Floods Back by Benjamin Percy. June 27, 2013. nytimes.com
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman by AS Byatt. theguardian.com 3 Jul 2013

2018-2019 SCHEDULE (2018-2019 Discussion Titles were voted on by group members in May 2018.)

January 16, 2019   Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
February 20, 2019   Grann, David. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. In this last remnant of the Wild West virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.
March 20, 2019    Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be educated abroad before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to 20th-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures – with outstanding economy and force – the troubled spirit of our own nation.
April 17, 2019  Jones, Tayari. An American Marriage
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined when Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. A profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control.
May 15, 2019  Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo
February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state – called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo – a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.
June 19, 2019  Frankel, Laurie. This Is How It Always  Is
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes. This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family.

Previous Discussions (1998 to 2018)