Afterthoughts Book Group – Central

Central Library Book Selections

Explore great books, join in on a lively discussion, and meet others who enjoy reading too. New members are always welcome!

The group meets at noon on the second Tuesday of every month. Library copies of the book are available for curbside pickup.

For further information or to receive an invitation to the monthly online Zoom meeting, please contact Lisa Lipshires at

Reading Selections For 2021

July, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Book CoverJanuary 12 – Online Meeting Via Zoom Eleanor 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 – Online Meeting Via Zoom Plainsong 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.

Just Mercy Book CoverMarch 9 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014) nonfiction.

An unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

The Golden Age Book CoverApril 13 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – The Golden Age by Joan London (2014) fiction.

Escaping the perils of World War II Hungary for Australia, Frank is diagnosed with polio and sent to a children’s hospital where he falls in love with a fellow patient while their families struggle to adjust to life in a new culture.

Biased Book CoverMay 11 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt (2019) nonfiction.

You don’t have to be racist to be biased. Unconscious bias can be at work without our realizing it, even when we genuinely wish to treat all people equally. The good news is that we are not hopelessly doomed by our innate prejudices.

Chances Are Book CoverJune 8 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – Chances Are… by Richard Russo (2019) fiction.

Three sixty-six-year old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. Each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend in 1971.

The Salt Path Book CoverJuly 13 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (2018) nonfiction.

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of England’s sea-swept South West Coast Path.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo Book CoverAugust 10 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (2019) fiction.

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.

The Library Book CoverSeptember 14 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – The Library Book by Susan Orlean (2018) nonfiction.

Chronicles the Los Angeles Public Library fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity.

Year of Wonders Book CoverOctober 12 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (2001) fiction.

Based on the true story of the English village of Eyam, Year of Wonders chronicles the year 1665-1666, in which the community was infected by the bubonic plague and a fictional housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer.

Half Broke Book CoverNovember 9 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – Half Broke: A Memoir by Ginger Gaffney (2020) nonfiction.

A top-ranked horse trainer’s life-affirming memoir that offers profound insight into the fascinating ways both horses and humans seek relationships to survive.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous Book CoverDecember 14 – Online Meeting Via Zoom – On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong (2019) fiction.

A letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born—a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam—and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known.

Reading Selections For 2020

Click to see books chosen for 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 14Forty 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 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.

June, The Feather Thief Book CoverJune 9Afterlife 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.

August, My Family and Other AnimalsJuly 14My 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.

December, The Sound of a Wild Snail EatingAugust 11
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.

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 13 The 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 8 Little 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.

Reading Selections For 2019

Click to see books chosen for 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.