American Library in Paris Book Groups

Engage in stimulating conversation about books and exchange perspectives about characters and plot in an informal and friendly environment. Readers have been introduced to many interesting books, varying from recent biographies, poetry, historical novels and well-known classics, to recent prize-winning novels or more obscure titles which members might not have discovered for themselves.

Book Groups on different themes begin twice a year (in September/October and again in January/February) and meet once a month at the Library. There is no additional fee for the book groups, but you must be a member of the American Library in Paris to participate. To sign up for a group, please send an email to programs@americanlibraryinparis.org.

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 (in September/October and January/February) 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, you are expected to let the book group leader know as soon as possible, as others may be on a waiting list.

The Library can provide some beverages (wine, juice, coffee, and tea) for the book group meetings, whose participants may also bring other refreshments or snacks. Everyone is responsible for clean-up in Library spaces, including the kitchen.

Please send an email to programs@americanlibraryinparis.org, with the name of the book group you would like to join as well as your library membership number.

Book Groups (Fall 2018) - an incomplete list

Please subscribe to e-Libris, the Library’s biweekly electronic newsletter for updates on book groups. Contact programs@americanlibraryinparis.org for details.

Book Group: Revolution in Human Genetics and Biology: An exploration of what we have discovered and what it means for the future of humanity
Led by: Maurice Lanman and Laurie Calvet
Description: We will be exploring an area of burgeoning scientific discovery that is far from settled science. The program and proposed dates are described below. Although the books describe the roots and results of the science involved, they are not technical and we expect all of them to be very “good reads.” However they do include material that many may not be familiar with, so we are allowing extra time to get through them. Thus the 4 book program has been extended into February.
Dates and books: All meetings will be at the Library at 17h00 on Tuesdays

  • 9 Oct – The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • 20 Nov – A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg
  • 15 Jan – The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance by Nessa Carey
  • 12 Feb – Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich

Book Group: A history of French anti-americanism
Led by: Philippe Melot
Description: Capitalist fat cats, slavedrivers, poor lovers, inelegant hillbillies, the gallery of clichés depicting negatively the Americans in French literature and media is colourful, and as old as the American nation. However it varied across the ages and differ depending on the political and intellectual orientations of the authors. Beyond the clichés and commonplaces, we will try to understand the roots of French Americanism since 1776 and its manifestations from Talleyrand to de Gaulle and from the right to the left.
Dates and books: All meetings will be at the Library at 17h00 on Thursday (except for Friday, Oct. 12)

  • 12 Oct (Fri) – The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism by Philippe Roger
  • 15 Nov – The French Way: How France Embraced and Rejected American Values and Power by Richard F. Kuisel
  • 20 Dec – Anti-Americanism by Jean Francois Revel
  • 17 Jan – L’ami Américain: Washington contre de Gaulle 1940- 1969 by Eric Branca

Book Group: Words about Wine
Led by: Joshua Adler
Description: Join Paris Wine Company founder Joshua Adler for a look at the the history and culture of French wine. In addition to covering the basics of snobby wine jargon, we will discover enthralling stories of wine forgery over the past 300 years through the present day, find out what happens when a graphic novelist decides to spend a year making natural wine in the Loire Valley, and learn about the secret history of wine in Paris and Burgundy during the Second World War. Group members are encouraged to bring a bottle of wine to share with the group inspired by their reading.
Dates and books: All meetings will be at the Library at 19h30 on Thursdays

  • 13 Sep – A Hedonist in the Cellar by Jay McInerney | Wine Folly by Madeline Puckette
  • 11 Oct – The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace | In Vino Duplicitas by Peter Hellman
  • 15 Nov – The Initiates by Etienne Davodeau
  • 13 Dec – Wine and War by Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup

Book Group: This is America
Led by: Ed Turner
Description: Examining America today through diverse books, including a memoir, a novel and a critique of America through an international lens. Books include Enduring Conviction by Lorraine K. Bannai, Plot Against America by Philip Roth, and Behold America by Sarah Churchwell
Dates and books: All meetings will be at the Library at 17h00 on Thursdays

  • 20 Sep – Enduring Conviction by Lorraine K. Bannai
  • 10 Oct – Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  • 29 Nov – Behold America by Sarah Churchwell

Book Group: Finding Time for Proust
Led by: Morgan Thomas
Description: You may have started reading In Search of Lost Time and given up after 10, 50 or 100 pages, promising yourself you would try again later.  You may have been saving it for a sabbatical, retirement or old age.  You may have read it once and always told yourself you would read it again, perhaps in French next time. Wherever you stand in relation to Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, now is a good time to read or reread it, and a dedicated book group is an excellent way to do so. In this group we will read, slowly and carefully, one volume of the novel per library session.  Members may read either in English translation or in the original French. Discussions will be in English. 
Dates and books: All meetings will be at the Library at 17h00 on Tuesdays

  • 25 Sep
  • 23 Oct
  • 20 Nov
  • 18 Dec

Book Group: Contemporary French Fiction
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: All meetings will be at the Library at 1030 on Saturdays

  • 22 Sep – Couleurs de l’Incendie by Pierre Lemaître
  • 13 Oct – Les Cigognes sont Immortels by Alain Mabanckou
  • 17 Nov – Les Idéaux by Aurélie Filipetti
  • 15 Dec – Un Monde à Portée de Main by Maylis de Kerangal