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Fiction Book Discussions

Fiction Book Discussions

The library's Fiction Book Club meets the second Monday each month at 11:30 AM, 1 PM and 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.

NEW! 11:30 AM meeting time in Youth Services Sunroom – especially for parents & caregivers with small children.

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August 12 – The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill

A determined young woman, born into a Quaker community in 19th-century Nantucket, defies social norms on the path to becoming a “lady astronomer” in Brill’s charming debut novel. Very loosely based on historical “girl” astronomer Maria Mitchell, Hannah Price spends her days going to Quaker meetings and tending to books at her town’s library, but nights she spends with her eyes on celestial bodies or crouched over mathematical calculations, dreaming of discovering a comet all her own.

September 9 – Five Carat Soul by James McBride

Humming with invention and energy, the stories collected in McBride’s first fiction book since his National Book Award–winning The Good Lord Bird again affirm his storytelling gifts. McBride adopts a variety of dictions without losing his own distinctively supple, musical voice; as identities shift, “truths” are challenged, and justice is done or, more often, subverted.

October 7 – Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

The story of Rafferty family matriarch Nora, her estranged sister, Theresa, and the secrets that an Irish Catholic upbringing led them to keep from their children. After leaving Ireland for Boston in the late ’50s, the effervescent Theresa finds herself pregnant by a married man. Dour Nora agrees to care for baby Patrick as her own…. Sullivan’s quiet ending is a satisfying conclusion to this rich, well-crafted story.

November 4 – In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young women, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names. Herself a native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez ( How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents ) has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity.

December 9 – Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

The classic mystery that first featured Harriet Vane, companion sleuth to the dashing, perennially popular private investigator, Lord Peter Wimsey, from the mystery writer widely considered the greatest mystery novelist of the Golden Age—Dorothy L. Sayers.


Nonfiction Book Discussions

Nonfiction Book Discussions

Nonfiction Book Discussion meets the third Tuesday each month 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.

Nonfiction Book Club will be taking a short hiatus, to return with seasonal themed discussions. This fall, join us for a series of books on Climate Change and actions you can take!

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August 20 – The Interstellar Age: The Story of the NASA Men and Women Who Flew the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell

Bell, president of the Planetary Society, delivers a lucid account of the magnificent scientific accomplishments of the Voyager Missions with a cheerfulness that it deserves. Both probes were launched in 1977; Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2013, after returning breathtaking photographs of the outer planets, and Voyager 2 will do so in a few years.

September – Hiatus!

October 15 – Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? By Bill McKibben

Three decades after bringing news of climate change to a broad audience with the book The End of Nature, environmental scholar McKibben once again examines the impact of global warming in unsettling look at the prospects for human survival. Readers open to inconvenient and sobering truths will find much to digest in McKibben’s eloquently unsparing treatise.

November 19 – Ecology, Ethics, and Interdependence: The Dalai Lama in Conversation with Leading Thinkers on Climate Change

Engage with leading scientists, academics, ethicists, and activists, as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Karmapa, who gathered in Dharamsala, India, for the twenty-third Mind and Life conference to discuss arguably the most urgent questions facing humanity today:
•    What is happening to our planet?
•    What can we do about it?
•    How do we balance the concerns of people against the rights of animals and against the needs of an ecosystem?
•    What is the most skillful way to enact change?
•    And how do we fight on, even when our efforts seem to bear no fruit?

December 17 – Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken

In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here—some are well known; some you may have never heard of.


Speculative Fiction Book Discussions

Speculative Fiction Book Discussion

The Portsmouth Public Library Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet on the final Tuesday of each month. Spec Fic is a genre that encompasses fantasy, science fiction, horror and everything in between. Speculative fiction asks, what if?

Speculative Fiction Discussions are currently held at Popovers on the Square. 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.

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August 27 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway.

September 24  – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

We begin in the punk years with a teenage Talking Heads–obsessed runaway from Gravesend, England, named Holly Sykes. She becomes a pawn in a spiritual war between the mysterious "Radio People" and the benevolent Horologists, led by the body-shifting immortal Marinus. Many more characters and places soon find themselves worked into Marinus's "Script" across the book's six sections.… From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's novel is a thing of beauty.

October 29 – Beloved by Toni Morrison

Mixed with the lyric beauty of the writing, the fury in Morrison's book is almost palpable. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this haunting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath traces the life of a young woman, Sethe, who has kept a terrible memory at bay only by shutting down part of her mind…. It is Morrison writing at the height of her considerable powers, and it should not be missed.

November 26 – An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows

Meadows’s gloriously dramatic and intricately detailed first novel for adults features a trio of young women in a fascinating fantasy setting. A strange Englishwoman named Gwen Vere defends Australian teen Saffron Coulter from a bully and then steps through a portal between Sydney and the magical realm of Kena…. Fantasy readers who appreciate strong characters and excellent worldbuilding will immerse themselves in this tale.

December 17 – The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavich

After the Wars that battered Earth, the wealthy have withdrawn to CIEL, a floating space platform that’s “far enough from the sun to exist,” but constantly in danger of incineration. Short of resources, CIEL is far from heavenly: its citizens no longer have the ability to procreate, all mention of sex and sexuality is criminal, and nobody is allowed to live past 50. The main art form on CIEL is grafting: burning or otherwise altering the skin. Nearing her final, 50th birthday, the master graft artist Christine begins to burn the outlawed story of Joan on her body. Joan was a child warrior whose great power came from her connection to the natural world.…
Synopses from Publishers Weekly and Amazon.


Past Book Discussions