Book Discussion Groups

Currently our book groups are online only.

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. 

Currently held online only, on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

February 14 - Nonfiction for Fiction! The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.

John Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure.

March 14 - Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Saul Indian Horse is a child when his family retreats into the woods. Among the lakes and the cedars, they attempt to reconnect with half-forgotten traditions and hide from the authorities who have been kidnapping Ojibway youth. But when winter approaches, Saul loses everything: his brother, his parents, his beloved grandmother―and then his home itself.

Alone in the world and placed in a horrific boarding school, Saul is surrounded by violence and cruelty. At the urging of a priest, he finds a tentative salvation in hockey. Rising at dawn to practice alone, Saul proves determined and undeniably gifted. His intuition and vision are unmatched. His speed is remarkable. Together they open doors for him: away from the school, into an all-Ojibway amateur circuit, and finally within grasp of a professional career. Yet as Saul’s victories mount, so do the indignities and the taunts, the racism and the hatred―the harshness of a world that will never welcome him, tied inexorably to the sport he loves.

April 11 - A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, Roser and Victor embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, they face trial after trial, but they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they might go home. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

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? 

Currently held online only, on the Zoom platform.Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

January 25 - The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside... Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

February 22 - Dune by Frank Herbert

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud'dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family - and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

March 29 - Circe by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring, like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur; Daedalus and his doomed son, Icarus; the murderous Medea; and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from or the mortals she has come to love.

April 26 - How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.

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.

Currently held online only, on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

February 1 - Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence, who is the very center of the little girl's existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother's benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, "It was in such a paradise that I lived."

When she turns twelve, however, Annie's life changes, in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority; and most frighteningly, her mother, seeing Annie as a "young lady," ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary.

March 1 - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made "The Bell Jar" a haunting American classic.

April 5 - Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden recounts Thoreau's experiences over a two year, two month, and two day period in which he lived by himself in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, located in an isolated stretch of woodland outside Concord, Massachusetts. In Walden, Thoreau marries the physical with the transcendent -- intermixing precise scientific observations of the flora and fauna he encounters and changes in the pond itself with poetic and metaphorical musings on nature. A middling success in Thoreau's own life, Walden has proven to be an enduring classic and one of the most celebrated works of 19th century nonfiction literature.

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!

Attend online only at this time! Registration is required. Visit our library calendar to register!

January 25Measure for Measure

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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2015

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2010-2011

2009-2010

2008-2009

2007-2008