Date of the Meeting

The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

The Vanishing Half
Date of the Meeting

Beautiful Country

By Qian Julie Wang
In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is "illegal" and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.
Beautiful Country Book Jacket
Date of the Meeting

Theme: Essays

Join us one Saturday each month as we explore several titles from our nonfiction collection. No reading required - come to the meeting with suggestions on the topic or simply listen and collect titles to add to your "to read" list!

This month's theme is Essays.

10:30 am in the Fitzgerald Room

Sign up for our email newsletter! tinyurl.com/IRnewsletter

IR logo
Date of the Meeting

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig

Nora, in her mid-30s and living in the small English town of Bedford, suffers from "situational depression"--though, as she wryly observes, "It's just that I keep on having new... situations." After she gets fired from her job and her cat dies, she attempts suicide, only to wake up in a book-lined liminal zone, where she is guided by a librarian: "Between life and death there is a library... Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived." There, Nora discovers what would have happened had she not abandoned her promising swimming career, called off her engagement, or left the rock band she started with her brother. Each time an alternate life disappoints or doesn't feel quite right, Nora exits, reappearing in the library to continue browsing for the perfect story.

The Midnight Library book jacket
Date of the Meeting

Unspeakable Acts

By Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman brings together an exemplary collection of thirteen recent true crime tales by some of the most exciting journalists and chroniclers of crime working today. With an introduction by Patrick Radden Keefe, this collection showcases true crime writing across the broadest possible spectrum and reflects on why crime stories are so transfixing and irresistible to the modern reader

Unspeakable Acts - Book Jacket
Date of the Meeting

The Wife Upstairs

By Rachel Hawkins

Jane Eyre gets a modern, Alabama-based reboot in Hawkins' latest thriller. Dog walker to the elite and sometime petty thief, Jane will do what she must to survive. Growing up as a witness to violence in various foster homes, she's tougher than she looks. Then she meets Eddie Rochester, who's recently lost his wife, Bertha, and his wife's best friend, Blanche Ingraham, in a tragic boating accident, their bodies never found. Dating Eddie gives Jane the social capital to move from dog walker to equal within the neighborhood, and soon, copying the style and mannerisms of the status-conscious women around her, she is welcome on their committees and at their parties. Bea Rochester, who was the glossy creator of a fashion brand, gets her own sections of the story as well. Given the names, it quickly becomes clear that Hawkins is basing the novel on Jane Eyre.

The Wife Upstairs book jacket
Date of the Meeting

One Summer: America 1927

By Bill Bryson
One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country; a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge).
One Summer Book Jacket
Date of the Meeting

Theme: Crime

Join us one Saturday each month as we explore several titles from our nonfiction collection. No reading required - come to the meeting with suggestions on the topic or simply listen and collect titles to add to your "to read" list!

This month's theme is Women in Sports.

10:30 am in the Fitzgerald Room

Sign up for our email newsletter! tinyurl.com/IRnewsletter

IR logo
Date of the Meeting

The Last Bookshop in London

By Madeline Martin

August 1939: London is dismal under the weight of impending war with Germany as Hitler’s forces continue to sweep across Europe. Into this uncertain maelstrom steps Grace Bennett, young and ready for a fresh start in the bustling city streets she’s always dreamed of - and miles away from her troubled past in the countryside.

With aspirations of working at a department store, Grace never imagined she’d wind up employed at Primrose Hill, an offbeat bookshop nestled in the heart of the city - after all, she’s never been much of a reader. Overwhelmed with organizing the cluttered store, she doesn’t have time to read the books she sells. But when one is gifted to her, what starts as an obligation becomes a passion that draws her into the incredible world of literature.

As the Blitz rains down bombs on the city night after night, a devastating attack leaves the libraries and shops of London’s literary center in ruins. Miraculously, Grace’s bookshop survives the firestorm. Through blackouts and air raids, Grace continues running the shop, discovering a newfound comfort in the power of words and storytelling that unites her community in ways she never imagined - a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of war-torn London.

The Last Bookshop in London - Book Jacket
Date of the Meeting

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream

By Dean Jobb

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream takes readers to the late nineteenth century as Scotland Yard follows the trail of a cold-blooded serial killer who was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper and who would finally be brought to justice by detectives employing a new science called forensics. "When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals," Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. "He has nerve and he has knowledge." In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten women in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream's London murder trial in 1891, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help. Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed-the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream's crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who "murdered simply for the sake of murder.

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream - Book Jacket