Book Discussion Groups

The library will offer adult book groups ONLINE through August. In September, we will begin to offer hybrid book groups: attend in person, or online!

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. 

This book discussion will be held online on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

Beginning in September, we will offer this discussion as a hybrid - attend in person or online!

August 9 - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.

September 13 - Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira

New York, 1879: After an epic snow storm ravages the city of Albany, Dr. Mary Sutter, a former civil war surgeon, begins a search for two little girls, the daughters of close friends killed by the storm who have vanished without a trace. When what happened to them is revealed, the uproar that ensues tears apart families, reputations, and even the social fabric of the city, exposing dark secrets about some of the most powerful of its citizens, and putting fragile loves and lives at great risk.

October 4 - Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her caton a mission to reclaim whats rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.When fifteen-year-old Allies parents are jailed for tax fraud, she's sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go until fate throws Allie in Bea's path. Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.

November 8 - White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Korea, 1943 . Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo , a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a "comfort woman" in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.

South Korea, 2011 . Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?

December 13 - The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Baumeister

Eight students gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen as Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives.

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? 

This book discussion will be held online on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

Beginning in September, we will offer this discussion as a hybrid - attend in person or online!

July 27 - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

August 31 - The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

September 28 - Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Once, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

October 26 - The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Some doors are locked for a reason.

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

November 30 - Lanny by Max Porter

There's a village an hour from London. It's no different from many others today: one pub, one church, redbrick cottages, some public housing, and a few larger houses dotted about. Voices rise up, as they might anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs. This village belongs to the people who live in it, to the land and to the land's past.

It also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a mythical figure local schoolchildren used to draw as green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth, who awakens after a glorious nap. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to its symphony of talk: drunken confessions, gossip traded on the street corner, fretful conversations in living rooms. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, ethereal boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny.

December 28 - The Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffmann & Alexandre Dumas

The original stories behind everyone's favourite Christmas ballet.

For the little girl Marie, the gift of a handsomely decorated nutcracker from a mysterious uncle sets the stage for a Christmas Eve like no other. That night, her extraordinary present comes to life, defends her from the taunting Mouse King, and whisks her off to the Kingdom of Dolls.

This volume features two of the earliest versions of what has become a Christmas classic- The Nutcracker and Mouse King (1816), by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Alexandre Dumas's 1845 reimagining, The Tale of the Nutcracker.

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.

This book discussion will be held online on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

Beginning in September, we will offer this discussion as a hybrid - attend in person or online!

August 3 - The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Celie has grown up poor in rural Georgia, despised by the society around her and abused by her own family. She strives to protect her sister, Nettie, from a similar fate, and while Nettie escapes to a new life as a missionary in Africa, Celie is left behind without her best friend and confidante, married off to an older suitor, and sentenced to a life alone with a harsh and brutal husband.

In an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear, Celie begins writing letters directly to God. The letters, spanning 20 years, record a journey of self-discovery and empowerment guided by the light of a few strong women. She meets Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress and a jazz singer with a zest for life, and her stepson’s wife, Sophia, who challenges her to fight for independence. And though the many letters from Celie’s sister are hidden by her husband, Nettie’s unwavering support will prove to be the most breathtaking of all.

September 7 - Beowulf translated by Maria Dahvana Headley 

Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf --and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world--there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.

A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist's eye toward gender, genre, and history—Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.

October 5 - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre, a penniless orphan, is engaged as governess at Thornfield Hall by the mysterious Mr Rochester. Her integrity and independence are tested to the limit as their love for each other grows, and the secrets of Mr Rochester's past are revealed.

November 2 - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, a skyblue Plymouth with chrome tailfins is stranded on the highway amid a Marxist workers' demonstration. Inside the car sit two-egg twins Rahel and Esthappen, and so begins their tale.... Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family--their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts). When their English cousin, Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river "graygreen."  With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night, the broken yellow moon in it.

December 7 - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A miser learns the true meaning of Christmas when three ghostly visitors review his past and foretell his future.

LGBTQ Book Club

Join us for our newest book group at Portsmouth Public Library! LGBTQ Book Club is for those who identify as LGBTQ or simply want to learn more about LGBTQ stories, narratives and experiences. All are welcome. Copies of each title will be available for library cardholders to place on hold for curbside pickup. LGBTQ Book Club will meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 PM.

This book discussion will be held online on the Zoom platform. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

Beginning in September, we will offer this discussion as a hybrid - attend in person or online!

August 17 - Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Nineteen-year-old Juliet Palante writes a you-changed-my-life letter to her favorite feminist author and is granted a summer internship at the author's home in Portland, OR. Leaving her loving Puerto Rican family in the Bronx is difficult, but Juliet also welcomes the chance to enter a new environment: her mother has been communicating with her through closed doors ever since Juliet told her that she is a lesbian and has a girlfriend. In Portland, Juliet discovers a new world—gay, artsy, "crunchy," hippie types who welcome her with open arms and offer her marijuana. She falls in love, her heroes fall, her family supports her, and her friends save her. Juliet also discovers women of color writing science fiction, hot library paraprofessionals, and her own self-esteem. At the end of the summer, Juliet reflects, "I'm a messy, over-emotional, book nerd, weirdo, chubby brown human and I needed to learn how to love myself, even the shameful bits."

September 21 - George (Melissa’s Story) by Alex Gino

When people look at Melissa, they think they see a boy named George. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

Melissa thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web . Melissa really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part... because she's a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, Melissa comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

October 19 - In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

Elliot is thirteen years old. He's smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands. It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there's Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there's her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There's even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world. In Other Lands is about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world -- even if it means giving up your phone.

November 16 - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz​

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

December 21 - Open Share!

Bring your favorite LGBTQ+ stories and books to share and we’ll discuss and compare recommendations!

Book Talks

At our Online Book Talk, connect with other readers online, and share your recommendations! Bring a three-line description of an adult book (or two) that you enjoyed, or just come and listen to community favorites. We’ll be there to guide the discussion and share how you can find more titles you’ll like – especially ones that are available online! Upcoming book talks:

No registration necessary. Click here to connect! Password: 3GWdHC

Past Book Discussions

Content

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