Book Discussion Group

Book Discussion Group

Meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday at 7:00 PM either outside with social distancing or on Zoom.  All are welcome to join us for a lively discussion! (Book cover pictures & summaries taken from Amazon.com)

Contact Donna Meoli for more information!  eumcyouth@eumclaurel.org.

2021-2022 Schedule


August 26, 2021 – Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Tаlkіng tо Strаngеrѕ (2019) іѕ a роwеrful еxрlоrаtіоn of hоw little wе know аbоut thе people wе dоn’t knоw. It еxрlоrеѕ hоw wе mіѕjudgе аnd mіѕundеrѕtаnd ѕtrаngеrѕ, sometimes with tеrrіblе consequences, making a роwеrful саѕе fоr mоrе tolerance аnd patience in оur dealings wіth оthеrѕ.
In these chapters, уоu’ll lеаrn:

  • Whу real lіfе іѕ nоthіng lіkе an еріѕоdе оf Friends;
  • How thе look оn оur face when wе are ѕurрrіѕеd is іtѕеlf ѕurрrіѕіng; аnd
  • Thаt аrtіfісіаl іntеllіgеnсе саn аѕѕеѕѕ a реrѕоn’ѕ сhаrасtеr bеttеr than hіgh соurt judgеѕ

September 16, 2021 – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

A novel that readers and critics have been eagerly anticipating for over a decade, Gilead is an astonishingly imagined story of remarkable lives. John Ames is a preacher, the son of a preacher and the grandson (both maternal and paternal) of preachers. It’s 1956 in Gilead, Iowa, towards the end of the Reverend Ames’s life, and he is absorbed in recording his family’s story, a legacy for the young son he will never see grow up. Haunted by his grandfather’s presence, John tells of the rift between his grandfather and his father: the elder, an angry visionary who fought for the abolitionist cause, and his son, an ardent pacifist. He is troubled, too, by his prodigal namesake, Jack (John Ames) Boughton, his best friend’s lost son who returns to Gilead searching for forgiveness and redemption. Told in John Ames’s joyous, rambling voice that finds beauty, humour and truth in the smallest of life’s details, Gilead is a song of celebration and acceptance of the best and the worst the world has to offer. At its heart is a tale of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, pitch-perfect in style and story, set to dazzle critics and readers alike.


October 21, 2021 – Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

2020 Audie Awards Finalist – Thriller/Suspense

The New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a housewife
turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing black woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young black woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie sets out to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death, but Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.


November 18, 2021 – The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Set within a contemporary Black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret. 

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.” 

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is 21, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance – and the subsequent cover-up – will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.  In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.


December 16, 2021 – The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

For readers of Richard Paul Evans and Greg Kincaid comes The 13th Gift, a heartwarming Christmas story about how a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family’s history into a time of strength and love.
After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children–especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their “True Friends.” As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.


January 20, 2022 – The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience – the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life – begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

Sandoz is a part of the crew sent to explore a new planet. What they find is a civilization so alien and incomprehensible that they feel compelled to wonder what it means to be human.

The priest is the only surviving member of the crew, and upon his return, he is confronted by public inquisition and accusations of the most heinous crimes imaginable. His faith utterly destroyed, crippled and defenseless, his only hope is to tell his tale. Father John Candotti has been charged with discovering the truth, but the truth may be more than Earth is willing to accept.


February 17, 2022 – Southernmost by Silas House

In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love. 

In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew – and risks losing everything: his wife, locked into her religious prejudices; his congregation, which shuns Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance; and his young son, Justin, caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle. 

With no way out but ahead, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to find his brother, Luke, whom he’d turned against years ago after Luke came out. And it is there, at the southernmost point of the country, that Asher and Justin discover a new way of thinking about the world, and a new way of understanding love. 

Southernmost is a tender and affecting book, a meditation on love and its consequences.


March 17, 2022 – Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller

Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of 20 million people who live with a felony record.

Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and is now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: Life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledge member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast.

As The Color of Law exposed about our understanding of housing segregation, Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate. Parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society.

Informed by Miller’s experience as the son and brother of incarcerated men, captures the stories of the men, women, and communities fighting against a system that is designed for them to fail. It is a poignant and eye-opening call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost not only from those working to rebuild their lives, but also our democracy. As Miller searchingly explores, America must acknowledge and value the lives of its formerly imprisoned citizens.


April 21, 2022 – The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

OUR HOUSE. OUR FAMILY. OUR SECRETS.
Meet the picture-perfect Bird family: pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and towheaded twins Rory and Rhys, one an adventurous troublemaker, the other his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet, gangly man, but it’s their beautiful, free-spirited mother Lorelei who spins at the center. In those early years, Lorelei tries to freeze time by filling their simple brick house with precious mementos. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She hangs all of the children’s art, to her husband’s chagrin.
Then one Easter weekend, a tragedy so devastating occurs that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, while Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband and children and has been living as a recluse. But then something happens that beckons the Bird family back to the house they grew up in—to finally understand the events of that long-ago Easter weekend and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.


May 19, 2022 – Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

A sweeping, masterful debut about a daughter’s fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them were born

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals – personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others – that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.  


August 2022 – The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

From the number-one best-selling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.
By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive. In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa- like so many of her neighbors – must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.