The Newberry currently offers two member-led virtual book groups that meet on the third Thursday of every month--one during the day and one in the evenings. The groups are open to Annual Fund donors who contribute $100 or more. For more information about virtual book groups, please contact Vince Firpo at firpov@newberry.org.

Associates Book Group

BEHIND THE SCENES: OR, THIRTY

BEHIND THE SCENES: OR, THIRTY

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Originally published in 1868--when it was attacked as an "indecent book" authored by a "traitorous eavesdropper"--Behind the Scenes is the story of Elizabeth Keckley, who began her life as a slave and became a privileged witness to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Keckley bought her freedom at the age of thirty-seven and set up a successful dressmaking business in Washington, D.C. She became modiste to Mary Todd Lincoln and in time her friend and confidante, a relationship that continued after Lincoln's assassination. In documenting that friendship--often using the First Lady's own letters--Behind the Scenes fuses the slave narrative with the political memoir. It remains extraordinary for its poignancy, candor, and historical perspective.
  • First time in Penguin Classics

  • GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER: A NOVEL (B

    GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER: A NOVEL (B

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    NATIONAL BESTSELLER
    WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

    "A must-read about modern Britain and womanhood . . . An impressive, fierce novel about the lives of black British families, their struggles, pains, laughter, longings and loves . . . Her style is passionate, razor-sharp, brimming with energy and humor. There is never a single moment of dullness in this book and the pace does not allow you to turn away from its momentum."--Booker Prize Judges

    Bernardine Evaristo is the winner of the 2019 Booker Prize and the first black woman to receive this highest literary honor in the English language. Girl, Woman, Other is a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of Black British women that paints a vivid portrait of the state of contemporary Britain and looks back to the legacy of Britain's colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.

    The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London's funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley's former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole's mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter's lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

    Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.

    LIBRARY BOOK

    LIBRARY BOOK

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    Susan Orlean's bestseller and New York Times Notable Book is "a sheer delight...as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library" (USA TODAY)--a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries. "Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book" (The Washington Post).

    On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was disastrous: it reached two thousand degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library--and if so, who?

    Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a "delightful...reflection on the past, present, and future of libraries in America" (New York magazine) that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

    In the "exquisitely written, consistently entertaining" (The New York Times) The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries; brings each department of the library to vivid life; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

    "A book lover's dream...an ambitiously researched, elegantly written book that serves as a portal into a place of history, drama, culture, and stories" (Star Tribune, Minneapolis), Susan Orlean's thrilling journey through the stacks reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books--and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country.

    MACHINES LIKE ME

    MACHINES LIKE ME

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    From Ian McEwan, Booker Prize winner and international bestselling author of Atonement and The Children Act

    "Moving. . . . Masterly . . . provocative." --The New York Times Book Review

    "A feat of literary sorcery." --O, The Oprah Magazine

    "[A] carefully constructed comedy of terrors. . . . [McEwan is] one of the most elegant writers alive." --The Washington Post

    "Witty and humane . . . a cautionary fable about artificial intelligence, consent, and justice." --The New Yorker


    Set in an uncanny alternative 1982 London--where Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence--Machines Like Me powerfully portrays two lovers who will be tested beyond their understanding. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first generation of synthetic humans. With Miranda's assistance, he codesigns Adam's personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and smart--and a love triangle soon forms. Ian McEwan's subversive, gripping novel poses fundamental questions: What makes us human--our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns against the power to invent things beyond our control.
    NICKEL BOYS

    NICKEL BOYS

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    WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

    ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
    Time, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vox, Variety, Christian Science Monitor, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, The New York Public Library

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

    ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE'S 10 BEST FICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE

    WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE

    LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

    LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION 2020


    In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

    When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood's only salvation is his friendship with fellow "delinquent" Turner, which deepens despite Turner's conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.

    Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

    PACHINKO (NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

    PACHINKO (NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

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    A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year and National Book Award finalist, Pachinko is an "extraordinary epic" of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan (San Francisco Chronicle).

    NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2017 * A USA TODAY TOP TEN OF 2017 * JULY PICK FOR THE PBS NEWSHOUR-NEW YORK TIMES BOOK CLUB NOW READ THIS * FINALIST FOR THE 2018 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE* WINNER OF THE MEDICI BOOK CLUB PRIZE

    Roxane Gay's Favorite Book of 2017, Washington Post

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * #1 BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER * USA TODAY BESTSELLER * WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER * WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER

    "There could only be a few winners, and a lot of losers. And yet we played on, because we had hope that we might be the lucky ones."

    In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

    Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters--strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis--survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

    *Includes reading group guide*
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    PAINTED VEIL

    PAINTED VEIL

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    Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.

    The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.

    SCRIBE OF SIENA

    SCRIBE OF SIENA

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    "Like Outlander with an Italian accent." --Real Simple

    "A detailed historical novel, a multifaceted mystery, and a moving tale of improbable love." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

    A NEW YORK POST MUST-READ BOOK

    Readers of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring...will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena" (Library Journal, starred review) in this transporting love story and gripping historical mystery.

    Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother's affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined--a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

    As Beatrice explores the evidence further, she uncovers the journal and paintings of the fourteenth-century artist Gabriele Accorsi. But when she finds a startling image of her own face, she is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.

    Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love--not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena's very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

    The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman's passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap--testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love.

    The Night Watchman

    The Night Watchman

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    New York Times Bestseller

    Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich's grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C., this powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

    Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the jewel bearing plant, the first factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a Chippewa Council member who is trying to understand the consequences of a new "emancipation" bill on its way to the floor of the United States Congress. It is 1953 and he and the other council members know the bill isn't about freedom; Congress is fed up with Indians. The bill is a "termination" that threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity. How can the government abandon treaties made in good faith with Native Americans "for as long as the grasses shall grow, and the rivers run"?

    Since graduating high school, Pixie Paranteau has insisted that everyone call her Patrice. Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Patrice, the class valedictorian, has no desire to wear herself down with a husband and kids. She makes jewel bearings at the plant, a job that barely pays her enough to support her mother and brother. Patrice's shameful alcoholic father returns home sporadically to terrorize his wife and children and bully her for money. But Patrice needs every penny to follow her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis. Vera may have disappeared; she hasn't been in touch in months, and is rumored to have had a baby. Determined to find Vera and her child, Patrice makes a fateful trip to Minnesota that introduces her to unexpected forms of exploitation and violence, and endangers her life.

    Thomas and Patrice live in this impoverished reservation community along with young Chippewa boxer Wood Mountain and his mother Juggie Blue, her niece and Patrice's best friend Valentine, and Stack Barnes, the white high school math teacher and boxing coach who is hopelessly in love with Patrice.

    In the Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich creates a fictional world populated with memorable characters who are forced to grapple with the worst and best impulses of human nature. Illuminating the loves and lives, the desires and ambitions of these characters with compassion, wit, and intelligence, The Night Watchman is a majestic work of fiction from this revered cultural treasure.

    THERE THERE

    THERE THERE

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    National Bestseller

    One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

    One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe

    Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award
    Winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
    Winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
    Winner of an American Book Award

    Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
    Shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

    "Powerful. . . . There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it's a revelation." --The New York Times

    Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming 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 unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

    TRUST EXERCISE

    TRUST EXERCISE

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    WINNER OF THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

    NATIONAL BESTSELLER

    "Electrifying" (People)
    - "Masterly" (The Guardian) - "Dramatic and memorable" (The New Yorker) - "Magic" (TIME) - "Ingenious" (The Financial Times) - A gonzo literary performance" (Entertainment Weekly) - "Rare and splendid" (The Boston Globe) - "Remarkable" (USA Today) - "Delicious" (The New York Times) - "Book groups, meet your next selection (NPR)

    In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving "Brotherhood of the Arts," two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed--or untoyed with--by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

    The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school's walls--until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true--though it's not false, either. It takes until the book's stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place--revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.

    As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Susan Choi's Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, and about friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

    WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: THE EPIC

    WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: THE EPIC

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    In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

    NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER



    From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

    With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.

    Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an "unrecognized immigration" within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.

    MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE WINNER
    HEARTLAND AWARD WINNER
    DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE FINALIST

    NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    The New York Times - USA Today - O: The Oprah Magazine - Amazon - Publishers Weekly - Salon - Newsday - The Daily Beast


    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    The New Yorker - The Washington Post - The Economist - Boston Globe - San Francisco Chronicle - Chicago Tribune - Entertainment Weekly - Philadelphia Inquirer - The Guardian - The Seattle Times - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - The Christian Science Monitor

    WHITE FRAGILITY: WHY IT'S SO H

    WHITE FRAGILITY: WHY IT'S SO H

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    The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

    In this "vital, necessary, and beautiful book" (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and "allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to 'bad people' (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.