International Book Club

The International Book Club discusses cultures and peoples from around the world through the medium of books.  


A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama

Follow three generations of a family from Guangzhou as they navigate Mao’s China for a few months in 1958. Each family member is tormented by their own secrets and the tension builds throughout the novel as they are revealed to you. In “A Hundred Flowers,” Gail Tsukiyama captures visions of the oppression and fear created by the Cultural Revolution as experienced by a little boy, his mother and his paternal grandfather as they all try to make sense of life in the absence of their father, husband and son.

A Hundred Flowers is the International Book Club selection for April.  On March 20 we will be meeting to discuss Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley.  We hope to see you soon.

International Book Club - February 2014

On February 20 we will be discussing A Girl Made of Dust by Natalie Abi-Ezzi.  This novel is set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict.

Three Women of Herat, A Memoir of Life, Love and Friendship in Afghanistan by Veronica Doubleday

While living in Herat, Afghanistan during two separate years in the mid-seventies, British author Veronica Doubleday befriends three women from different hereditary classes. Through her developing relationships, readers will gain an understanding of what it meant to be a woman in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion adn the rule of the Taliban. Doubleday's ability to speak Persian, as well as willingness to embrace their culture and traditions, give her access to Herati family life rarely seen by westerners. This is a beautifully written account of the lives of Afghani women and provides layers of insight for a country so frequently misunderstood today. Anyone seeking impartial information about a culture rich in traditions and arts will find Three Women of Herat invaluable in providing a framework for understanding women in Afghanistan.

In An Antique Land: History in a Guise of a Traveler's Tale by Amitav Ghosh

Blending cultures, religions, and time periods, In A Strange Land: History in a Guise of a Traveler's Tale defies definition. An earlier work by popular Indian author Amitav Ghosh, he writes in his own voice using the time he spent as a student in Egypt to inform his tale. The story centers on his search for clues about a slave to a Jewish merchant mentioned in a 12th century letter discovered in the Cairo Geniza. Originally from Tunisia, the merchant travels to India, by way of Egypt, and lives there for a couple decades before mysteriously and suddenly returning to Africa. Through Ghosh's quest, you also learn about contemporary rural Egypt at the same time as you do about merchants and trade between Europe, Africa and India in the 12th century. It will leave you wondering where reality ends and the story begins.

Blood river: a journey to Africa's broken heart by Tim Butcher

Blood River by Tim ButcherReading Blood river: a journey to Africa's broken heart is a tense and thrilling adventure that will leave you with a better understanding of this forgotten country in central Africa. Author Tim Butcher strives to recreate explorer Henry Morton Stanley's nineteenth century route along the Congo River from Lake Tanganyika to the Atlantic Ocean which cuts through two-thirds of the African continent. Along the journey you discover how the Congo is the only place in the world where technological advancements go backwards and grandparents can tell their grandchildren about inventions they can't even dream of. The Congo has so many resources and a people desperate for peace yet so many obstacles stacked against their success. You also learn about the efforts of the United Nations and other aid organizations and why so little is being done to help the people faced with massive institutionalized corruption. Butcher's book shines a spotlight on a country the world seems to have given up on and a people just hoping for a fair chance.

Top Ten Book Group Picks

The following titles were the most popular book group picks in January based on votes at



1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn



2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
3. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
4. Beautiful Ruins by Walter Jess
5. Defending Jacob by William Landay
6. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
8. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
10. Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

So consider one of these titles for your book group. Don't belong to a book group? Then consider trying one of the groups offered through the library!

Better Living Book Club
Books on Tap
International Book Club
Out of This World

International Book Club 2013 Book Selections

January 17, 7pm: Love, Life and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick
February 21, 7pm:The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley
March 28, 7pm: In the Sea, There are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda
April 18, 7pm: A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terani
May 16, 7pm: Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka


In 2013, the International Book Club will be hosted by Sarah Shaw, a valued member of the book club for several years.  She has enthusiastically agreed to volunteer her time and energy to continue this highly respected book discussion group. 

Copies of the book club selections can be obtained either through ELPL or MeLCat, our interlibrary loan service.  The Reference Desk is happy to help!

New Zealander wanted!

Are you from New Zealand, or have you visited or lived there?   At the next meeting of the International Book Club we will be reading a book about New Zealand.  We usually have a guest from the country or culture we are discussing join us.  If you know of anyone who might be interested in sharing their New Zealand experiences with us, please contact Mary Hennessey at

Anyone is welcome to join the discussion, which will take place on Thursday November 8 at 7:00 in the library meeting room.  The book we will talk about is Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson.   With a title like that, you'll have to come and find out what it is all about

International Book Club notes for March 15, 2012 - Cuba

  We had a wonderful evening on Thursday.  Thank you to our speaker, Margarita, for coming to help us better understand one person's experiences of Operation Pedro Pan.  And thank you, Margarita, for the food, too!  Yum!

Here are some of the books mentioned. This is the one about the woman in Cuba who blogs:

Havana Real: one woman fights to tell the truth about Cuba today by Yoani Sánchez ; translated by M.J. Porter.

International Book Club 2012

I have been planning our meetings for the next few months, and they should be very interesting!  As I mentioned once, I try to coordinate the books we read so that they take in different areas of the world, and different genres (memoirs, novels, American-goes-to-another-country-and-the-funny-things-that-happen-to-them, etc.)  I also try to find speakers to enhance our understanding of the book and culture.

Here is the line-up for 2012.

Visiting Bhutan via the International Book Club

 We had a fantastic program last night, and I would once again like to thank Rinchen, Tashi and Mary for making it so interesting and enjoyable.

Here is some more information about some of the things we talked about.

New member Sarah had just returned from a trip to Bhutan.  She said she traveled with the group "Wanderlust and Lipstick" (love that name).  You can find their web page here. 

International Book Club Notes for 10/21/10

Wasn't that an inspiring evening with Jackson Kaguri last night?  You can find out more about Nyaka School here.  You can find out more about the book, and watch some video clips here.

Get a Head Start on International Book Club for Next Year!

The International Book Club is on hiatus for the summer, but you can get a head start on what we'll be reading this fall.  On Thursday October 21 at 7:00 pm, we are excited to welcome local author  Twesigye Jackson Kaguri as he talks about his new book The Price of Stones.  This story of Kaguri's experiences building a school in his home village in Uganda has been compared to Three Cups of Tea.  We have copies of the title on audiotape and in book form. There will also be a copy available later this summer as a downloadable e-book.  The author has been interviewed in local and national media, including Time.  You can also see a video about the book here. 

In November, date to be announced, we will be discussing the book
Beyond the Sky and the Earth : A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa. Come learn about this beautiful country and its people through the author's eyes.  We are working on getting some special guests to help us discuss and understand the book.

Travel around the world this summer with a good book!

Int'l Book Group - Recap of Oct. 21 meeting.

We had a great discussion about Joan Silber's book, The Size of the World.  A special thanks to Sam Singh for coming and giving us his perspectives on the book and some great stories about his trip.  Here is Sam's web page if you'd like to read more about his travels.

I think everyone liked the book.  You can find other books by Joan Silber here