Book Discussion Groups

Our book groups are free and open to all. This page covers Adult Book Discussion Groups. For Youth Book Clubs, visit our Youth Programs page. For Teen Book Clubs, visit our Teen Programs page. 

Copies of each title are available for checkout with a library card. Click the title below, or call the library at 603-427-1540 to place a hold.

Fiction Book Club

The library's Fiction Book Club meets the second Monday each month at 1 PM and 7 PM. 

Fiction Book Club is currently hybrid - attend online or in person! Click here to connect on Zoom! Password: 3GWdHC

June 13 - On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born -- a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam -- and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

July 11 - Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money-but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward?

Cow Tom's legacy lives on-especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose. She rises to leadership of the family as they struggle against political and societal hostility intent on keeping blacks and Indians oppressed. But through it all, her grandfather's indelible mark of courage inspires her-in mind, in spirit, and in a family legacy that never dies.

August 18 - A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace--and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox--possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki's signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

Speculative Fiction Book Club

The Portsmouth Public Library Speculative Fiction Book Club will meet on the final Tuesday of each month at 7 PM. Spec Fic is a genre that encompasses fantasy, science fiction, horror and everything in between. Speculative fiction asks, what if? 

NEW Off Site Location! In May, Speculative Fiction Book Club will be held in person, outdoors at Thirsty Moose Taphouse in Portsmouth. From June to August, we'll be at Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth! 

May 31 - In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border — unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids.

In Other Lands is an exhilarating novel from bestselling author Sarah Rees Brennan about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools - friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone.

June 28 - The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too...

July 26 - Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

Change or die. These are the only options available on planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep—and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she too is changing—and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction....

August 30 - The Devourers by Indra Das

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Classics Book Club

We define a classic not by its specific time period, but by its staying power and recognized value to society and the literary canon. We will endeavor to include a diverse group of authors, across gender, race, nationality and sexuality. Classics Book Club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 PM.

NEW Off Site Location! June - August, Classics Book Club will be held in person, outdoors at Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth! 

June 7 - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendiá family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad and alive with unforgettable men and women—brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul—this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.

July 5 - The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

In scene after memorable scene of Sarah Orne Jewett's fictional masterpiece, The Country of Pointed Firs, the Maine-born author recorded what she felt were the rapidly disappearing traditions, manners, and dialect of Maine coast natives at the turn of the twentieth century. In luminous evocations of their lives — a happy family reunion, an old seaman's ghostly vision, a disappointed lover's self-imposed exile, and more — Jewett created startlingly real portraits of individual New Englanders and a warm, humorous, and compassionate vision of the New England character.

August 2 - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Chapters I – LIX)

Note: we will discuss the first half of the book in August, and the second half in September. Please read chapters I – LIX (1 – 59, “The Will”) for this meeting.

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.

Shakespeare Discussion Group

How now good friends? Dost thou seek a monthly passtime to broaden the mind and entice the senses? Look no further than Shakespearean Discussion Group! Enjoy the selected play of the month in the way ‘twas presented: to the masses! Pick up a video recording of the play to view at your leisure, and then join us on the last Tuesday of the month at 4 PM to discuss your experience with The Bard’s work. Mayhaps thou shalt stumble upon some new friends there as well… Be not perturbed of your knowledge of Shakespeare’s works, for we encourage fellows of all ages, areas of interest and expertise to attend!

Beginning in June, Shakespeare Discussion Group will meet outside under the tent. Registration is required. Visit our library calendar to register!

June 28Henry V

Print copies of this play will be available for checkout with a library card, along with several productions on DVD. Library cardholders also have streaming access to the BBC production on Kanopy – visit cityofportsmouth.com/library/kanopy to connect. Or, watch one of these freely available productions:

Past Book Discussions

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2007-2008