Contemporary Book Discussion Group

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The Contemporary Book Discussion Group meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7 PM.

For the Contemporary Book Discussion Group, we will read books that are recent and have gathered critical praise, as seen in the pages of major newspapers (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, etc.) and by book awards (National Book Award, Pulitzer, Mann Prize, etc.).  We may even sneak in a "classic" if it appeals to the group. 

If you have any questions, please contact Mark at 298-3080, ext. 1707 or

Below is the schedule of reading and links to information about the author and reviews of the books.

At the bottom of this page is  the list of books we have read since October 2016.

 tommy orange

On Tuesday, September 24th, at 7 PM, we will discuss There There by Tommy Orange.

Tommy Orange’s shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to each other in ways they may not yet realize. There is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and working to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, who is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death, has come to work at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil has come to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, utterly contemporary and always unforgettable.

Links of Interest: 

New York Times Review

Washington Post Review

NPR Review

 richard powers

On Tuesday, October 22nd at 7 PM, we will discuss The Overstory by Richard Powers.

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Links of Interest:

Author's website

The Atlantic book review

Los Angeles Review of Books

The Sewanee Review

 Michael Ondaatje

 On Tuesday, November 19th, at 7 PM, we will discuss Warlight by Michael Ondaatje. (Note: We are meeting on the third Tuesday of the month because of the Thanksgiving holiday.)

In 1945, just after World War II, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey--through facts, recollection, and imagination--that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

Links of Interest: 

Los Angeles Times Book Review

Washington Post Book Review

The Guardian Book Review

 Books Read 2016 - 2018  Books Read 2019

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
October 2016
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
November 2016
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
December 2016

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
January 2017
Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb
February 2017
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
March 2017
The Distant Marvels by Chantal Acevedo
April 2017
Stoner by John Williams
May 2017
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
June 2017
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
July 2017
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
August 2017
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
September 2017
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
October 2017
Golden Age by Joan London
November 2017
Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam
December 2017

The North Water by Ian McGuire 
January 2018
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein 
February 2018
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunder 
March 2018
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
April 2018
Days Without End by Sebastion Barry 
May 2018
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward 
June 2018
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen 
July 2018
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 
August 2018
Washington Square by Henry James 
September 2018
Elmet by Fiona Mozley 
October 2018
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman 
November 2018
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren 
December 2018



Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth
January 2019
A Room With A View by E. M. Forster
February 2019
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
March 2019
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
April 2019
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
May 2019
Florida by Lauren Groff
June 2019
Educated by Tara Westover
July 2019
American Marriage by Tayari Jones
August 2019
There There by Tommy Orange
September 2019