Afterthoughts Book Group – Central

Central Library Book Selections

We select a new book to discuss every month. Library copies of the book are available at the Second Level (Rotunda) Circulation Desk. Come join us for a lively discussion and meet others who also enjoy reading. New members are always welcome. This group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from noon to 1:00 PM in the Central Library, Community Room.

For further information, contact Lisa Lipshires at 413-263-6828 ext. 395 or email

Reading Selections For 2020

Click to see books chosen for January through May 2020

January, A Piece of the World Book CoverJanuary 14A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (2017) fiction.

Imagines the life story of Anna Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” describing the simple life she led on a remote Maine farm, her complicated relationship with her family, and the illness that incapacitated her.


February, The Monk of Mokha CoverFebruary 11The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (2018) nonfiction.

The incredible true story of a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.


March, With the Fire on High Book CoverMarch 10With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (2019) fiction.

High school senior Emoni Santiago (an aspiring chef) and her two-year-old daughter live with Emoni’s grandmother. Emoni signs up for a culinary arts class that culminates in a trip to Spain–and she begins to see a path forward, if only she dares follow it.


April, Forty Autumns Book CoverApril 14 (No meeting, library closed)Forty Autumns: A Family’s Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner (2016) nonfiction.

A former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family–of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


May 12 (Online Meeting Via Zoom) News of the World by Paulette Jiles (2016) fiction.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a 70-year-old veteran of the Civil war, accompanies 10-year-old Johanna Leonberger on a 400-mile odyssey to her aunt and uncle’s home. Johanna, who has been living with the Kiowa warriors who had killed her parents four years earlier, no longer speaks English, and tries to escape at every opportunity. Yet, as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death.

To join the group’s email list or to receive an invitation to the May 12th Zoom meeting, please contact Lisa Lipshires at


June, The Feather Thief Book CoverJune 9 (Online Meeting Via Zoom)Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (2020) fiction.

A literature professor tries to rediscover who she is after the sudden death of her husband, even as a series of family and political jolts force her to ask what we owe those in crisis in our families, biological or otherwise.

To join the group’s email list or to receive an invitation to the June 9th Zoom meeting, please contact Lisa Lipshires at



August, My Family and Other AnimalsJuly 14 (Online Meeting Via Zoom)My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956) nonfiction.

Gerald Durrell’s hilarious account of five years in his childhood spent living with his family and an assortment of animals on the island of Corfu.

To join the group’s email list or to receive an invitation to the Zoom meeting, please contact Lisa Lipshires at


December, The Sound of a Wild Snail EatingAugust 11 (Online Meeting Via Zoom)The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (2010) nonfiction.

Bedridden with a mysterious virus, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own place in the world.

To join the group’s email list or to receive an invitation to the Zoom meeting, please contact Lisa Lipshires at


June, The Feather Thief Book CoverSeptember 8 The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson (2018) nonfiction.

On a cool June evening in 2009, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist grabbed hundreds of bird skins – some collected 150 years earlier – and escaped into the darkness. Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds?


September, The Woman Next Door Book CoverOctober 13The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (2017) fiction.

Neighborliness isn’t an option for two elderly enemies [one white, one black] living in adjacent homes in Katterijn, an upscale South African residential community. What will happen when events push them into grudging cohabitation?


October, Maid Hard Work Book CoverNovember 10 Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (2019) nonfiction.

A journalist describes the years she worked in low-paying domestic work under wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them.


November, Little Faith Book CoverDecember 8Little Faith by Nickolas Butler (2019) fiction.

A Wisconsin couple grapples with the power and limitations of faith when their adopted daughter falls under the influence of a radical church.


July, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Book CoverJanuary 12, 2021Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017) fiction.

A socially awkward, routine-oriented loner teams up with a bumbling IT guy from her office to assist an elderly accident victim, forging a friendship that saves all three from lives of isolation and secret unhappiness.


May, Plainsong Book CoverFebruary 9, 2021Plainsong by Kent Haruf (1999) fiction.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, several intertwined lives undergo radical change. A high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother abandons them, while his sons try to cope with the violent behavior of a school bully. Out in the country, two gruff, unpolished cattle farmers, bachelors for decades, must relearn the art of conversation when a pregnant teen enters their lives.

Reading Selections For 2019

Click to see books chosen for January through November 2019

January 8 The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (2017) fiction.

A young Chinese woman, forced to give up her daughter born out of wedlock, finds purpose, passion, and the key to a new life in the tea-growing traditions of her ancestors. Meanwhile, her daughter grows up as a privileged and well-loved California girl who wonders about her origins.

February 12Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones (2014) nonfiction.

As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking ballerina.

March 12Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) fiction.

An American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for over eighty years.

April 9 Night by Elie Wiesel (1956) nonfiction.

Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in Romania to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting absolute evil.

May 14The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West (1945) fiction.

In fourteen heartwarming vignettes, a Quaker farming family in southern Indiana at the time of the Civil War must negotiate their way through a world that constantly confronts them—sometimes with candor, sometimes with violence—and tests the strength of their beliefs.

June 11The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantu (2018) nonfiction.

An ex–Border Patrol agent and descendent of a Mexican immigrant finds himself on both sides of the battle over illegal immigration in this fraught memoir of his time patrolling the Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas borders from 2008 to 2012.

July 9Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2017) fiction.

In the tiny forest community of Beartown, the possibility that the amateur hockey team might win a junior championship, bringing the hope of revitalization to the fading town, is shattered by the aftermath of a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized.

August 13The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone (2017) nonfiction.

Traces the life of Elizebeth Smith, who met and married groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman and worked with him to discover and expose Nazi spy rings in South America by cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine.

September 10On Kingdom Mountain by Howard Frank Mosher (2007) fiction.

In 1930 Vermont, Jane Hubbell Kinneson, a local bird carver and the last resident of a remote, wild mountain on the U.S.-Canadian border that is threatened by a proposed new highway, confronts some of the most important decisions of her life.

October 8Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (2017) nonfiction.

Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered a chilling conspiracy.

November 12The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (2017) fiction.

A portrait of the Irish-American experience is presented through the story of an Irish immigrant’s suicide and how it reverberates through innumerable lives in early twentieth-century Catholic Brooklyn.

December 10Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (2017) nonfiction.

A woman, born as an “untouchable” into the Indian caste system, describes how she was educated by Canadian missionaries in the 1930s and what it was like growing up in a world full of poverty and injustice but also full of incredible possibility.