American Library in Paris Book Groups

*Covid-19 update: All book groups are now meeting virtually, via Zoom. To view active groups, including chosen books and schedules, please scroll down.

You may then follow this link to request to join 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 programs@americanlibraryinparis.org.

To request to join any Book Group, please fill out our electronic form. 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 programs@americanlibraryinparis.org.

Additionally, we kindly ask that all Book Group leaders notify Programs Manager Catherine Olien (olien@americanlibraryinparis.org) 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

Prize-Winning American and British Plays (spots open!)
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 four award-winning American or British plays, most of which 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

 

 

 

  • 19 September: Betrayal by Harold Pinter
  • 17 October: Indecent by Paula Vogel
  • 14 November: Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
  • 12 December: Caught by Christopher Chen

 

Contemporary French Fiction- Before the Translators (GROUP IS NOW FULL)
Led by: Helen Stanton
Description: Together our group chooses books from the new French novels which come out in September each year. Primarily we read new releases from the Rentrée litteraire which haven’t yet been translated into English. We decide the titles by a vote each quarter. From time to time we also read a French modern classic.

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

  • 13 September: Le miroir de nos peines by Pierre Lemaitre; Le consentement by Vanessa Springora
  • 11 October: TBD
  • 8 November: TBD
  • 13 December: TBD

 

 

 

NOT the 21st Century! Readings in History/Biography/Events, all before the current era (GROUP IS NOW FULL)

Led by: Maurice Lanman and Laurie Calvet
Description: This is a long-standing group, usually focused on science and technology and their effects on society. Last year we read nine books on “The Future of Humanity.” But this year, given the extraordinary intensity of current events, we decided to step back somewhat from all that and look the other way: towards the past, both near and far. We have come up with a selection of three subtopics of three books each, reaching for subjects as far back as the 15th century and up through the 20th.

Dates and books: Tuesdays 17h00-18h30

  • 15 September: How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France
  •  13 October: Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky
  • 10 November: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
  • 15 December: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution by Lindsay M. Chervinsky
  • 19 January: Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann by David P. Jordan
  • 16 February: Allies at War: The Bitter Rivalry Among Churchill, Roosevelt, and De Gaulle by Simon Berthon
  • 16 March: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  • 13 April: In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace by Miranda Seymour
  •  18 May: Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes

 

French and American Encounters (spots open!)
Led by: Sharon Golec

Description: This book group focuses on non-fictional works of history, biography and social / cultural issues affecting our two countries.  During the fall of 2020, we will focus on the turbulent period of the 1920s and 30s and responses to the rapid and anxiety- provoking changes that characterize this period.

Dates and books: Thursdays 17h30-19h00

  • 1 October: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent
  • 5 November: The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
  • 10 December: The Hollow Years, France in the 1930s by Eugen Weber

 

 

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

 

  • 1 October: Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry (author speaking virtually at the Library on 16 September)
  • 29 October: Man of My Time by Dalia Sofer (author speaking virtually at the Library on 14 October)

Strangers in a Strange Land  (GROUP IS NOW FULL)

Led by: Mary Harries Magnusson and Deborah Singleton  

DescriptionWhy 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

  • 21 September: The Gown by Jennifer Robson
  • 19 October: The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • 16 November: Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
  • 14 December: The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble.

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. This fall, we are beginning Volume V, entitled The Captive, or La prisonnière. Reading is in French or English. Discussions in English.

Dates and books: Tuesdays 17h00-19h00

  • 16 September

 

 

 

 

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

  • 15 June
  • 14 September 14
  • 12 October
  • 9 November
  • 7 December
  •  11 January
  • 8 February
  • 8 March
  • 12 April
  • 10 May
  • 7 June

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

  • 14 September: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
  • 12 October: A Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
  • 16 November: The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo
  • 14 December: The Measure of my Days  by Florida Scott-Maxwell

 

This is America (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

  • Fall Dates TBD: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson