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Fiction Book Discussions

Fiction Book Discussions

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

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January 14 – The New Year's Quilt  by Jennifer Chiaverini

Septuagenarian Sylvia Compson is determined not to repeat past mistakes. Having married on Christmas Eve at Elm Creek Manor, the family homestead turned quilter’s haven, Sylvia and longtime family friend Andrew Cooper have to face the music and tell Andrew’s children, especially his bitter daughter, Amy. On the way, master quilter Sylvia plies at a long unfinished quilt she calls New Year’s Reflections, which she plans to give Amy in the hope of reconciliation.

February 11 - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s amazing debut offers an unforgettable, page-turning look at the histories of Ghana and America, as the author traces a single bloodline across seven generations, beginning with Ghanaian half-sisters Effia, who is married off to a British colonizer in the 1760s, and Esi, who is captured into the British slave-trading system around the same time. These women never meet, never know of each other’s existence, yet in alternating narratives we see their respective families swell through the eyes of slaves, wanderers, union leaders, teachers, heroin addicts, and more—these often feel like linked short stories, with each descendent receiving his or her own chapter.

March 11 – The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Stuck in a loveless and uncommunicative marriage with her husband, Gene, young housewife and mother Grace Holland has resigned herself to a future of childcare and housework. It’s just after World War II, and there aren’t many other opportunities for married women in coastal Maine. But when, after a summer-long drought, a massive fire breaks out and threatens her home and community, Grace may have an unexpected chance not only to rebuild but also to rewrite her personal narrative.

April 8  – The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Sang Ly lives with her husband, Ki, and their habitually ill son, Nisay, in Cambodia's biggest municipal dump—Stung Meanchey. There, residents pick through the mountains of garbage in order to salvage resalable bits of flotsam, but Sang Ly is desperate to escape and secure a better life for her ailing son. The titular rent collector—"an abrupt, bitter, angry woman" named Sopeap Sin, but whom everyone calls "Cow—" turns out to be the gracious means by which Sang Ly's dreams might be realized.

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.

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January 15 – The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Egan tells an extraordinary tale in this visceral account of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl. He grounds his tale in portraits of the people who settled the plains: hardy Americans and immigrants desperate for a piece of land to call their own and lured by the lies of promoters who said the ground was arable.

February 19 – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born to a black African mother and a white Swedish father, Noah violated the Immorality Act of 1927, which outlawed interracial relationships. Though apartheid ended a decade after Noah’s birth, its legacy lived on in the country’s nigh-inescapable ghettos and perpetual racial conflicts, continuing to affect his life as he came of age.

March 19 – The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, effectively calls attention to the inherent fragility of the Great Lakes in this thought-provoking investigation, providing a modern history of the lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior—and the problems that have plagued them. He takes readers “beneath the lakes’ shimmering surface and illuminates an ongoing and unparalleled ecological unraveling.”

April 16 – Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan 

In this brisk and moving memoir, Corrigan (The Middle Place) explores the language and terrain of intimacy, delving into some of the most difficult and significant things people say to one another. In 12 brief essays, Corrigan describes the ways in which phrases such as “tell me more” and “I know” have shaped her closest relationships. In the title essay, Corrigan slowly raises the stakes, with masterly results (when her sixth-grade daughter calls to talk of an incident in school, Corrigan simply says, “Tell me about it,” rather than something more accusative, and her daughter divulges everything).

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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January 29 – Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Vyleta’s latest is a fiercely inventive novel set in a late Victorian Britain at once recognizable and intricately transformed. Best friends at an elite boarding school, Charlie Cooper and Thomas Argyle accept the way their world works: dark thoughts and deeds immediately cause black “Smoke” to emanate from human bodies, and the upper classes rule by virtue of being visibly more pure than the lower. Then the friends spend Christmas at the baronial home of Thomas’s uncle Baron Naylor, and everything changes.

February 26 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The classic novel, written over 200 years ago, has provided inspiration for generations of writers of speculative fiction of all forms. This gothic horror is a meditation on belonging, on what it means to be alive and to be human.

March 26 – Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Two not-quite-parallel threads run through Laymon's meandering debut novel: the first, the story of young Mississippi high-schooler Citoyen, a.k.a. "City"; the second, chapters from a book he finds about a young Mississippi high-schooler of the same name, who, it seems, is him in a different time period.

April 30 - Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren

In this dazzling debut—a love letter to history, legend, and the power of stories that takes inspiration from Norse myth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge—a young woman is catapulted through time and space after she runs afoul of her eccentric neighbors. Fourteen-year-old Freddy Duchamp isn’t sure what to make of her abrasive, rebellious classmate Josiah or the mercurial Cuerva Lachance, who claims to be a private investigator. When Freddy and Josiah fall through a time portal, it’s the start of a fanciful odyssey through the past and future.

Past Book Discussions