American Library in Paris Book Groups
*Covid-19 update: All book groups are now meeting virtually, via Zoom. Please check back here in late August to sign up for book groups with openings beginning in September 2020.
Engage in stimulating conversation about books in an informal and friendly environment!
Our Book Groups, which are completely volunteer-led, highlight a variety of excellent titles, ranging from recent biographies, novels and well-known classics, to recent prize-winning novels or more obscure books that members otherwise might not have discovered for themselves.
Book Groups begin twice a year (once in September and again in January) and meet once a month at the Library. There is no additional fee for participating in a Book Groups, but you must be a member of the American Library in Paris to participate. Space is very limited, so members are advised to do their best to attend all meetings of a given group rather than just drop in for certain meetings. Any questions about Book Groups can be sent to email@example.com.
To request to join any Book Group, please fill out our electronic form (link coming late August 2020). You can expect to hear back from us within a few days of submitting the form about whether your chosen group has space– all groups operate on a first come, first serve basis. You will then receive emails directly from the leaders of your chosen group providing details regarding books and future meetings.
To propose leading a group of your own, please send a formal proposal (including group title, description, a selection or books and proposed dates) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, we kindly ask that all Book Group leaders notify Programs Manager Catherine Olien (email@example.com) well in advance of any changes in date or special requests for meetings.
FAQs on Book Groups
Book groups are organized at the Library’s initiative and led by experienced Library volunteers. Book group leaders — and participants — have broad discretion on how they unfold.
Yes. If you are not yet a Library member but would like to participate in one of our book groups, please join the Library before the first session of your selected group or be prepared (and leave enough time) to join or renew at the first session (check/cash/credit card, photo ID and proof of residence required).
Book groups on different topics/themes are offered two times a year (once in September and again January) and meet once a month. Book group meetings take place in the Library unless otherwise advertised.
Please come to the first session prepared to discuss the chosen book. Arriving a few minutes early will allow everyone to become acquainted. If you will not be present, please inform your book group leader, as others may be on a waiting list.
The Library is happy to provide some beverages for book groups, and participants may also bring other refreshments or snacks. Everyone is responsible for clean-up in Library spaces, including the kitchen.
Please fill out THIS FORM to request to join any book group.
You can expect to hear back from us within a few days of submitting the form about whether your chosen group has space– all groups operate on a first come, first serve basis.
You will then receive emails directly from the leaders of your chosen group providing details regarding books and future meetings.
Book Groups - latest news
Please subscribe to e-Libris, the Library’s biweekly electronic newsletter for updates on book groups: https://americanlibraryinparis.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=184728fbb6846f6ce467b1cb8&id=cbc77145d9
2020-21 Book Groups
Updated topics and meeting dates coming soon (late August 2020)!
2019-20 Book Groups
Virtual Confinement Book Group (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Catherine Olien
Description: We invite Library members to sign up for a new virtual book group that will meet weekly via Zoom during the period of confinement. Together, you will dive into the weird and wonderful literary landscape of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens.
Book Access Options: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/883 (you have your choice of several eBook formats here)
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/883/883-h/883-h.htm (a webpage with the full text)
Dates: WEEKLY, Wednesdays, 17h00-19h00
- 8 April: Informal meet and greet session
- 15 April: come prepared to discuss Book the First (The Cup and the Lip- 17 chapters)
- 22 April: come prepared to discuss Book the Second (Birds of a Feather- 16 chapters)
- 29 April: come prepared to discuss Book the Third (A Long Lane- 17 chapters)
- 6 May: come prepared to discuss Book the Fourth (A Turning- 16 chapters, including chapter the last and postscript)
Libraries: Past, Present, and Future (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Jade Vu Henry
Dates and Books: Wednesdays, 12h00-13h30
- 5 February: The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- 4 March: BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google by John Palfrey
- 1 April: Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg
- 6 May: The Library Beyond the Book by Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Battles
Prize-Winning American Plays (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Hilary Kaiser
Description: Reading plays and talking about them afterwards is a worthwhile way to learn about characters and their dilemmas, the human condition in general, and problems in a particular society or culture. Using our imagination, we can picture what is happening on stage and appreciate a story that is well-told through dialogue.
In this group, we will read and discuss five famous American plays that are available online as PDF’s. If time permits during the session, we will also read out-loud some memorable scenes.
Dates and books: Saturdays 10h30-12h30
- 11 January: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (*please note date change from 18 January to 11 January)
- 22 February: Angels in America by Tony Kushner
- 21 March: True West by Sam Shepard
- 18 April: Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
- 16 May: The Flick by Annie Baker
Contemporary French fiction (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Marjorie Lallemand
Description: Together our group chooses books from the new French novels which come out in September each year. We also invite some of the authors when possible, and we regularly organize theatre outings to see new French plays.
Dates and books: Sundays 14h00-16h00
- 12 January: Tous les hommes n’habitent le monde de la même façon by Jean-Paul
- 2 February: Civilizations by Laurent Binet
- 1 March: Le Silence de la mer by Vercors
- 22 March: Le Ghetto Intérieur by Santiago H. Amigorena
- 26 April: De Pierre et d’Os by Berengère Cournut
- 17 May: La Gloire de Mon Père by Marcel Pagnol
French and American Encounters (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Sharon Golec
Dates and books: Thursdays 17h00-19h00
- *9 January (rescheduled from 19 December): Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall
- 30 January: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Restless Genius by Leo Damrosch
- 27 February: Founding Brothers, the Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
- 26 March: Danton: A life by David Lawday
- 14 May: When the United States Spoke French, Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation by François Furstenberg
*Group suspended until further notice
Celebrating works by the Library’s Evenings with an Author speakers (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Catherine Olien
Description: Led by your Programs Manager at the American Library, this group will provide the opportunity for an in-depth, participatory analysis and discussion of works by our EWA guests in advance of their appearance at the Library. Covering a wide range of topics and genres, we hope to foster a community of readers who will also attend EWA events and come prepared with questions for our speakers.
Dates and books: Thursdays 19h00-21h00
- 23 January: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (speaking at the Library on 11 December)
- 20 February: Hate: The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism in France (and What it Means for us) by Marc Weitzmann (speaking at the Library on 25 February)
Mystery Book Group (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Maureen Paget and Marcia Lebre
Description: The Mystery Book Group, like Raymond Chandler, believes ” murder is serious business.” Book selections are chosen monthly and range from the classics of the genre’s Golden Age to contemporary disturbing and dark crime fiction and non-fiction. We like to discuss works which challenge the boundaries of the mystery novel. Our selections for discussion do not include cozies, nor do we choose books where the crime is solved by a domestic animal.
Dates and Books: Mondays 10h30-12h00
- 13 January
- 3 February
- 16 March
- 20 April
- 18 May
- 15 June
Strangers in a Strange Land (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Mary Harries Magnusson
Description: Why do people take challenging journeys into the unknown? Deliberate flight from the unbearable? Pursuit of a dream? Or perhaps they have been swept, against their will, onto life-changing paths. Whatever the scenario, there is always a story to tell. Our group focuses on novels where protagonists are geographically and/or spiritually far from home, on what has prompted the journey and on how the new land shapes their lives.
Dates and Books: Mondays 14h00-16h00
- 16 December: The Ice Age by Margaret Drabble
- 20 January: Love is Blind by William Boyd
- 24 February: The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittl
- 23 March: The American by Henry James
- 20 April: The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
- 18 May: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
- 15 June: The Quiet American by Graham Greene
- 21 September: Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
What will the future be? Exploring the challenges we face tomorrow (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Maurice Lanman and Laurie Calvet
Description: We will read (at least) 5 books on various topics that are expected to affect the future of human civilization within the next decades.
Dates and books: Tuesdays 17h00-19h00
- 19 November: The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs
- 14 January: The Weaponization of Social Media by P. W. Singer & Emerson T. Brooking
- 28 January: AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee
- 25 February: Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans
by Melanie Mitchell
- 24 March: The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats by Richard A. Clarke & Robert K. Knake
- 5 May: A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind
- 2 June: End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World by Bryan Walsh
This is America: Rampages Against Democracy (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Ed Turner
Description: Examining America today through diverse books on the decline and death of democracy globally and the birth and rise of autocrats at home and abroad.
Dates and books: Thursdays 17h00-19h00
- 12 December: Information Wars by Richard Stengel
- 23 January: Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
- 27 February: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Finding time for Proust (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Morgan Thomas
Description:There is no better way to tackle Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, than in the company of fellow enthusiasts reading with all deliberate speed and probing its multiple layers and meanings together. As we continue reading Volume III (The Guermantes Way) there is room for a limited number of new members who already have some experience of reading Proust. Please inquire if you are interested. Reading is in French or English. Discussions in English
Dates and books: Tuesdays 17h00-19h00
- 10 December
- 7 January
- 4 February
- 3 March
- 31 March
- 28 April
- 26 May
Memoir Book Group (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Leslie de Galbert and Clydette de Groot
Description: In its 13th year, the Memoir Book Group boasts of being perhaps the only original group still meeting and comprised of virtually the same members since the inception of the Library’s program many years ago! As our group’s name implies, we read memoirs and follow a rigorous formula of research and presentations by each member of our group. For our 10th anniversary, we edited a booklet of all of the books we’ve studied, including the hundreds of “almost-reads” over the years.
Dates and books: Mondays 10h30-12h00
- 3 February
- 23 March
- 27 April
- 25 May
- 22 June
Words about Wine (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Josh Adler
Description: Join Paris Wine Company founder Joshua Adler for a reading group about wine. Each month, we’ll read and discuss a general interest book about a different aspect of the wine world. Participants are encouraged to bring a bottle to share inspired by their reading.
Dates and Books: Thursdays 19h00-21h00
- 17 October: The Dirty Guide to Wine by Alice Feiring with Pascaline Lepeltier
- 14 November: Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger
- 12 December: The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J Mazzeo
- 30 January: Judgement of Paris by George M Taber
- 27 February: Tangled Vines by Frances Dinkelspiel
- 26 March: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker
- 25 June: In Vino Duplicitas by Peter Hellman