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 at the library! Click here to connect on Zoom! Password: 3GWdHC

November 14 - Run by Ann Patchett

Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, Doyle’s priorities change... Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic Priests in downtown Boston.

December 12 - The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

For the past six months, Arthur Moses’s days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life.

Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. One afternoon she joins Arthur—a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew.

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? 

Speculative Fiction Book Club will be held in person, outdoors at Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth through September. Starting in October, we'll be in person at the library.

November 29 - Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

December 20 - Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial even proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

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.

Classics Book Club will be held in person, outdoors at Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth through August. Starting in September, we'll be in person at the library.

November 1 - Hamlet by William Shakespeare

One of the greatest plays of all time, the compelling tragedy of the tormented young prince of Denmark continues to capture the imaginations of modern audiences worldwide. Confronted with evidence that his uncle murdered his father, and with his mother’s infidelity, Hamlet must find a means of reconciling his longing for oblivion with his duty as avenger. The ghost, Hamlet’s feigned madness, Ophelia’s death and burial, the play within a play, the “closet scene” in which Hamlet accuses his mother of complicity in murder, and breathtaking swordplay are just some of the elements that make Hamlet an enduring masterpiece of the theater.

December 6 - The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

Written by the court gentlewoman Sei Shonagon, ostensibly for her own amusement, The Pillow Book offers a fascinating exploration of life among the nobility at the height of the Heian period, describing the exquisite pleasures of a confined world in which poetry, love, fashion, and whim dominated, while harsh reality was kept firmly at a distance. Moving elegantly across a wide range of themes including nature, society, and her own flirtations, Sei Shonagon provides a witty and intimate window on a woman's life at court in classical Japan.

Nonfiction Book Club

The library's Nonfiction Book Club meets the third Monday each month at 7 PM. 

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

November 21 - Wow, No Thank You  by Samantha Irby

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and has been friendzoned by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife in a Blue town in the middle of a Red state where she now hosts book clubs and makes mason jar salads. This is the bourgeois life of a Hallmark Channel dream. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "tv executives slash amateur astrologers" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," who still hides past due bills under her pillow.

The essays in this collection draw on the raw, hilarious particulars of Irby's new life.

December 19 - The Hare with Amber Eyes  by Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots―which are then sold, collected, and handed on―he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive.

And so begins The Hare with Amber Eyes, this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations. A nineteenth-century banking dynasty in Paris and Vienna, the Ephrussis were as rich and respected as the Rothchilds. Yet by the end of the World War II, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of very small carvings was all that remained of their vast empire.

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!

Shakespeare Discussion Group now meets in the library's MacLeod Board Room. Registration is optional - register to receive reminders. Visit our library calendar to register!

November 29 - Richard III

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