Book Club in a Bag includes multiple copies of a popular book, information about the author and copies of discussion questions, all packaged in a sturdy zipper bag for you to carry. Each kit may be checked out for 8 weeks. You can view a list of titles below. Please allow some advance notice and have an alternate title choice available.
Visit or call the Adult Services department (224-543-1485) for more details or to reserve a kit. This service is partially sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Last updated: 2/6/2013
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
A spirited young maid on board the Titanic captures the attentions of two men including a kindhearted sailor and an enigmatic Chicago millionaire and barely escapes with her life before witnessing media scorn targeting her famous designer mistress.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
The rigid moral codes held by devoted mid-19th-century preacher Samuel Lake are called into question when his 12-year-old daughter and his neighbors hide a young boy from his abusive father, a man who lashes out at the community when he learns about the deception.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
The best-selling author of Devil in the White City documents the efforts of first American ambassador to Hitler's Germany William E. Dodd to acclimate to a residence in an increasingly violent city where he is forced to associate with the Nazis while his daughter pursues a relationship with Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels.
Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson
This is the compelling story of two boys, raised in the same house, who found themselves on opposite sides of the Nazi occupation. Ben Solomon is convinced that Chicago’s most honored benefactor is a former Nazi SS officer and he is determined to bring him to justice. But has he accused the wrong man?
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
A chance encounter with a handsome banker in a Greenwich Village jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1938 catapults witty Wall Street secretary Katey Kontent into the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multi-millionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well and a single-minded widow.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart from the weight of the work and the loneliness. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, it is gone - but they find a young, blonde-haired girl who calls herself Faina, and seems to be a child of the woods
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
Fleeing to Galilee in despair when her son voluntarily rejoins the Israeli army, Ora drags along estranged family friend Avram, a former POW to whom she relates her experiences of motherhood against a backdrop of constant war and fear. A provocative antiwar novel by one of Israel's best-known writers.
Turn of Mind by Alice Laplante
Implicated in the murder of her best friend, Jennifer White, a brilliant retired surgeon with dementia, struggles with fractured memories of their complex relationship and wonders if she actually committed the crime.
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
Bookended by two wars—Vietnam and Iraq—The Year We Left Home sketches the travails of an Iowa family over three decades.
Previously Added Titles
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
From a pampered childhood in Oxford to her difficult years as a widowed mother, Alice Liddell looks back on a remarkable life, examining how she became who she is--and how she became immortalized as Alice in Wonderland.
A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann
Anna and Nouri, both studying in Chicago, fall in love despite their very different backgrounds. Returning with Nouri to his native Iran, their world is abruptly turned upside down by the overthrow of the Shah, and the rise of the Islamic Republic. As events reach a fevered pitch, Anna realizes that nothing is as she thought, and no one can be trusted, not even her husband.
The Believers by Zoe Heller
After civil rights attorney Joel Litvinoff suffers a stroke, his contentious family struggles with the consolations of faith and the trials of doubt as they battle their own demons and each other. Every member is called upon to decide what, if anything, they still believe in.
Blue Nude by Elizabeth Rosner
An artist who teaches others but who has lost his own inspiration, German-born painter Danzig finds a muse in the person of a new model named Merav, the Israeli-born granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, but before they can create a new future for themselves, both artist and model must come to terms with the past.
The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniak
A big-hearted story of eleven-year-old Gladys Cailiff and her Depression-era community turned upside down when a worldly teacher, who is fascinated with all things Arabian, moves into the small town.
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's Vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. A mesmerizing mix of fact and fiction.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
A Pulitzer Prize winner weaves together sex and celebrity, empire and politics in a story that is as contemporary as it is ancient, capturing fully for the first time the operatic power of Cleopatra's life and reign.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
African-American Constable Silas Jones must confront his white former friend Larry Ott, who has lived under suspicion for twenty years since a girl disappeared while on a date with him, after another girl disappears and Larry is blamed once again.
Day After Night by Anita Diament
A tale inspired by the post-Holocaust experience is set in an immigrant holding camp in 1945 Palestine, where four women, refugees from Nazi Europe, find healing in the bonds of friendship that are forged while recounting their losses.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Abandoned on a 1913 voyage to Australia, Nell is raised by a dock master and his wife who do not tell her until she grows up that she is not their child, a situation that causes her to return to England and eventually hand down her quest for answers to her granddaughter.
Gardens of Water by Alan Drew
The lives of two families living on the outskirts of Istanbul are changed by a massive earthquake that brings them together in a dangerous intimacy in which forbidden love blossoms between Irem, a Kurdish Muslim girl, and Dylan, a young American.
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
Newlyweds Viktor and Liesel live in decadence in their new, modern home which they name the "Landauer House," until the Germans' destructive procession across Europe force them to leave for America. Brimming with barely contained passion and cruelty, the precision of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession, and the fear of failure - the Glass Room contains it all.
How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
When Shoko decided to marry an American GI and leave Japan, she had her parents' blessing, her brother's scorn, and a gift from her husband-a book on how to be a proper American housewife. This debut novel is a beautifully told story of love that melds family, cultures, and survival.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.
The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald
Cared for in a series of temporary homes where young women are taught mothering skills, winsome orphan toddler Henry captures the hearts of program director Martha and each of his temporary mothers while hoping for a permanent home. A soaring, heartfelt novel that spans three decades and an entire continent.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Working as an indentured servant alongside slaves on a tobacco plantation, Lavinia, a 7-year-old Irish orphan with no memory of her past, finds her light skin and situation placing her between two very different worlds that test her loyalties.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Discovering the symbolic meanings of flowers while languishing in the foster-care system, eighteen-year-old Victoria is hired by a florist when her talent for helping others is discovered, a situation that leads her to confront a painful secret from her past. A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
In 1974 Manhattan, a radical young Irish monk struggles with personal demons while making his home among Bronx prostitutes, a group of mothers share grief over their lost Vietnam soldier sons, and a young grandmother attempts to prove her worth.
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
A memoir from a schoolteacher of growing up in the heart of the Midwest during the Great Depression describes her close family life on an Iowa farm during a time of endless work and resourcefulness, with no tolerance for idleness or waste.
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees
Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. Mixing fact and fiction, McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
A retired Major leads a quiet life in the village of St. Mary, England, until his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But will their relationship survive in a society that considers Ali a foreigner?
Manhunt: The Twelve-day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
A fascinating and vivid account of the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, takes readers along on the intensive search from the streets of Washington, D.C., through the swamps of Maryland, into the forests of Virginia, and into the lives of the men who pursued him.
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Driving his wife crazy after his retirement, Mr. Ali is persuaded to open a marriage bureau, and when his business becomes a success he decides to hire an assistant, Aruna who is hiding a tragic past. This is a delightfully exotic love story with engaging characters and a happy ending.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms. Told in riveting personal narratives, the members of the McAllan and Jackson families strive for love and honor in a brutal time and place, becoming players in a tragedy on the grandest scale and finding redemption where they least expect it.
Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
Follows the stories of three young couples whose lives are irrevocably changed in the years following World War II, a period during which they struggle with difficult losses and witness profound transformations in American culture. Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Five-year-old Jack and his Ma live, eat, play and sleep in one room--an 11×11-foot space that is their prison--captives of the terrifying man Jack calls Old Nick. But as Jack grows older and more curious, it becomes clear that the room will not be able to hold him and Ma forever.
Russian Winter: A Novel by Daphne Kalotay
Former Bolshoi ballerina Nina Revskaya auctions off her jewelry collection and becomes overwhelmed by memories of her homeland, the friends she left behind amidst Stalinist aggression, and the dark secret that brought her to a new life in Boston.
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps her cooking students create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of their lives.
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Dreaming daily of escaping her life of slavery in South Carolina and returning to her African home, slave Aminata Diallo is torn from her family when she is sold and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War, during which she helps create a list of black people who have been honored for their service to the king.
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Judd Foxman is thrown together with his dysfunctional family when his father dies, while at the same time coping with his wife's infidelity and the end of his marriage.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
In an epic history covering the period from the end of World War I through the 1970s, a Pulitzer Prize winner chronicles the decades-long migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West through the stories of three individuals and their families. A bold, remarkable, and riveting work of non-fiction destined to become a classic.
You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
Fort Hood, Texas, is a place from where husbands and fathers are deployed for a year or longer, leaving behind their loved ones. Fallon’s short story collection offers a glimpse into the lives of eight different families, each coping with their individual issues and shared absences in a different way. A work of fiction, but remarkably real, and each story's characters immediately grip the reader.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Documents the story of a long-time New Orleans resident who was forced to stay behind during Hurricane Katrina while the rest of his family evacuated, describing how he spent days after the storm traveling by canoe to feed abandoned animals before he was inexplicably arrested.
The following titles are also available:
- The Art of Racing in the Rain
- Out Stealing Horses
- Still Alice
- Swim to Me
- Crying Tree
- These Is My Words
- Cutting for Stone
- Thirteenth Tale
- Digging to America
- The Tiger’s Wife
- Elegance of the Hedgehog
- Up From Orchard Street
- Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- A Visit From the Goon Squad
- Homer & Langley
- The Welsh Girl Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
- The Whistling Season
- Housekeeper and the Professor
- White Woman on the Green Bicycle