Fiction | Nonfiction | NEW! Speculative Fiction| Past Books
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Fiction Book Discussions
The library's Fiction Book Club meets one Monday each month at 1 or 7 PM. All are welcome! Whenever possible copies of each title are borrowed from New Hampshire libraries in advance. Books are available for check out with your PPL card.
Monday September 12 | 7pm
While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty (2009)
Moriarty exposes the underbelly of family strife in this coming-of-age college drama set near Lawrence, Kans. One day, Veronica Von Holten is happy, med-school bound, in love with her boyfriend and not far from her supportive family. Then her father finds another man in the bed he shares with his wife of 26 years.
Monday October 3 | 7pm
Crane Wife by Patrick Ness (2013)
Award-winning YA author Ness’s newest novel for adults is inspired by a traditional Japanese folktale. Kind to the point of haplessness, George Duncan rescues a wounded crane in his suburban London backyard. Soon after, a mysterious woman named Kumiko enters his life, and she and George form an instant connection. Despite its imperfections, the book will win over adventurous readers with its originality and intensity.
Monday November 14 | 7pm
We are called to Rise by Laura McBride (2014)
In her debut novel, McBride introduces us chapter by chapter to a disparate group of Las Vegans. Among them are Avis, whose husband Jim has just left her for another woman, and their son, Nate, a troubled veteran of the Iraq War who has returned to join a craven Vegas police department and who has begun to abuse his young wife. The narrative is compelling enough to draw the reader along, even as it skips from one character’s point of view to another.
All synopses from Publishers Weekly.
Monday December 12 | 7pm
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (2015)
Within the first three pages of this gripping and tender novel, Addie Moore, a 70-year-old widow, invites her neighbor, Louis Waters, to sleep over. “No, not sex,” she clarifies. “I’m talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably.” Although Louis is taken off guard, the urgency of Addie’s loneliness does not come across as desperate, and her logic will soon persuade him. What follows is a sweet love story, a deep friendship, and a delightful revival of a life neither of them was expecting, all against the backdrop of a gossiping (and at times disapproving) small town.
Nonfiction Book Discussions
Nonfiction Book Discussion meets once monthly, on Tuesday at 7 PM in the Hilton Garden Room. All are welcome! Whenever possible copies of each title are borrowed from New Hampshire libraries in advance. Books are available for check out with your PPL card.
Tuesday August 16 | 7pm
Half the sky : turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide by Nicholas Kristof (2010)
New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century,” they write, detailing the rampant “gendercide” in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force.
Tuesday September 20 | 7pm
Smoke gets in your eyes : and other lessons from the crematory by Caitlin Doughty (2014)
In this valiant effort Doughty, a Hawaii-born LA mortician and creator of the web series "Ask a Mortician," uses her work as a crematorium operator at the family-owned Westwind Cremation and Burial in Oakland, Calif., to challenge the way we view death. [...] Doughty does stare death in the face, by tracking down numerous ancient rituals (she observes approvingly how some Eastern cultures still participate in the preparing of the body), pursuing fascinating new words such as "desquamation" and "bubblating" (both refer to excess fluids), and celebrating the natural function of decomposition.
Tuesday October 18 | 7pm
Lest innocent blood be shed : the story of the village of Le Chambon, and how goodness happened there by Philip Paul Hallie (1994)
During the most terrible years of World War II, when inhumanity and political insanity held most of the world in their grip and the Nazi domination of Europe seemed irrevocable and unchallenged, a miraculous event took place in a small Protestant town in southern France called Le Chambon. There, quietly, peacefully, and in full view of the Vichy government and a nearby division of the Nazi SS, Le Chambon's villagers and their clergy organized to save thousands of Jewish children and adults from certain death.
Tuesday November 15 | 7pm
The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)
Science journalist Skloot makes a remarkable debut with this multilayered story about “faith, science, journalism, and grace.” It is also a tale of medical wonders and medical arrogance, racism, poverty and the bond that grows, sometimes painfully, between two very different women—Skloot and Deborah Lacks—sharing an obsession to learn about Deborah’s mother, Henrietta, and her magical, immortal cells.
All synopses from Publishers Weekly.
Speculative Fiction Book Discussions
The Portsmouth Public Library Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet on the final Wednesday of each month. Spec Fic is a genre that encompasses fantasy, science fiction, horror and everything in between. Speculative fiction asks, what if?
This season, we’re headed out of the library to meet at The Press Room in Portsmouth. Each meeting begins at 7 PM. All are welcome! Whenever possible copies of each title are borrowed from New Hampshire libraries in advance. Books are available for check out at the library, or at the meeting, with your PPL card.
Wednesday July 27 | 7pm
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
Wednesday August 31 | 7pm
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel is her last year at Wyverley College, a private school in Ancelstierre, where Magic does not work, but near the Border with the Old Kingdom, where it does. She and her father are also highly skilled necromancers, who fight the dead who seek to return to Life. But when her father is somehow trapped in Death, she must journey into the Old Kingdom to find him. Rich, complex, involving, hard to put down, this first novel, an Australian import, is excellent high fantasy.
Wednesday September 28 | 7pm
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
If you've ever wanted to know your elevator inspector better, Whitehead's meaty and mythic first novel may help you get acquainted. Set in a huge, unnamed city, it hinges on the friction between rival groups of inspectors--the Empiricists, who base their appraisals of elevators on careful observation, and the Intuitionists, who know the machines they work with so well that they can sense potential problems simply by standing inside one. Whitehead has created a self-contained universe in this novel, complete with its own mythology and history (re-created at length in the course of the narrative), and it is to his credit that he is able to weave in a meditation on race.
Wednesday October 26 | 7pm
Among Others by Jo Walton
World Fantasy Award–winner Walton turns the magical boarding school story inside out in this compelling coming-of-age tale. Welsh teen Morwenna was badly hurt, and her twin sister killed, when the two foiled their abusive mother's spell work. Seeking refuge with a father she barely knows in England, Mori is shunted off to a grim boarding school. Mori works a spell to find kindred souls and soon meets a welcoming group of science fiction readers, but she can feel her mother looking for her, and this time Mori won't be able to escape.
Wednesday November 30 | 7pm
The Girl with the Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson
Debut novelist Boroson crafts a brilliant tale of magic, monsters, and kung fu in the San Francisco Chinatown of 1898. Xian Li-lin is a Maoshan priestess, destined to fight monsters with paper talismans and her peachwood sword. When she is tricked and trapped in the spirit world, her father, who is a powerful priest, must make a terrible sacrifice to rescue her. This fantastic tale smoothly mixes Hong Kong cinema with urban fantasy, and Li-lin is a splendid protagonist whose cleverness and bravura will leave readers eager for her future adventures.
All synopses from Goodreads.
Wednesday January 25 | 7pm
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Fans of vampire fiction who are bored by the endless hordes of sensitive, misunderstood Byronesque bloodsuckers will revel in Cronin’s engrossingly horrific account of a post-apocalyptic America overrun by the gruesome reality behind the wish-fulfillment fantasies. When a secret project to create a super-soldier backfires, a virus leads to a plague of vampiric revenants that wipes out most of the population. When members of the Colony find a young girl, Amy, living outside their enclave, they realize that Amy shares the virals’ agelessness, but not the virals’ mindless hunger, and they embark on a search to find answers to her condition.
Past Book Discussions