Book Club in a Bag

Book Club in a Bag

Everything you need for your book club

The Book Club in a Bag is a book discussion kit including at least 5 copies of a title with an author bio, a reading guide and other information about the book. Kits may be borrowed for six (6) weeks to allow time to read, discuss and return the material. This program was made possible by the generous support of the Friends of the Westland Public Library.

Where do I get it?

The Book Club in a Bag collection is located in the library between the Circulation Desk and the Reference Desk. Please ask any staff member if you'd like help locating it!

Get help with Book Club in a Bag kits by asking at the Reference Desk. A list of titles and their descriptions is detailed below. You can find out if a "Book Club in a Bag" is checked in by searching our online catalog. Please note: some titles are listed as "archived" in the catalog but are still available for checkout. Our reference staff can retrieve them for you.

How does it work?

Choose an available title. Ask for a bag at the Reference Desk. Pack the bag with all copies of that title and its discussion guide, then take the bag up to the Circulation Desk for checkout. The entire kit - bag, discussion material, copies of the book - will be checked out to one cardholder, who is responsible for all contents of the kit and for any material fees incurred. All materials must be returned to the library together - books may not be returned individually. Overdue Book Club in a Bag kits (including those returned incomplete) incur fines of $1.00 per day.

Current Titles

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

All the pretty horses - Donald S. Passman

All the Pretty Horses
by Cormac McCarthy

"...the story of John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of west Texas ranchers. Upon his grandfather's death and his parents' divorce, the sixteen-year-old Cole finds himself landless, penniless, and possessed of skills that mean nothing... With his friend Lacey Rawlins, John Grady sets off for Mexico. They have no idea what they will find there..." (from the reader's guide at Random House)

Annie's Ghosts – Steve Luxenberg

Annie's Ghosts
by Steve Luxenberg

Exploring the nature of self-deception and self-preservation, a son seeks to uncover the family secret of his dead mother's sister. Part of the 2013 Great Michigan Read.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel - Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

"A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it." (from the reading guide at HarperCollins)

Atonement - Ian McEwan

by Ian McEwan

"Briony Tallis, a precocious 13-year-old with an overactive imagination, witnesses an incident between Cecilia, her older sister, and Robbie Turner, son of the Tallis family's charwoman . . . Moving deftly between styles, this is a compelling exploration of guilt and the struggle for forgiveness. (from Library Journal)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo

"A Mumbai slum offers rare insight into the lives and socioeconomic and political realities for some of the disadvantaged riding the coattails (or not) of India’s economic miracle in this deeply researched and brilliantly written account by New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Boo. Divided into four parts, the narrative brings vividly to the page life as it is led today in Annawadi, a squalid and overcrowded migrant settlement of some 3,000 people squatting since 1991 on a half-acre of land owned by the Sahar International Airport..."(from Publisher's Weekly)

The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

"Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different." (from Novelist)

The Cartel - Ashley & Jaquavis

The Cartel
by Ashley & Jaquavis

"When Carter Diamon, the leader of The Cartel, which controls eighty percent of the cocaine industry, dies, his illegitimate son, Carter Jones, takes his place and starts sleeping with the enemy--Miamor, the leader of The Murder Mamas, who wants to take down The Cartel." (from Novelist)

Cold Sassy tree - Olive Ann Burns

Cold Sassy Tree
by Olive Ann Burns

"On July 5, 1906, Rucker Blakeslee announces that he intends to marry Miss Love Simpson, a hat-maker at his store who is years younger than he. This news shocks his family, since his wife Mattie Lou died only three weeks earlier..." (from the Sparknotes, which include study questions)

Confessions of a pagan nun - by Kate Horsley

Confessions of a Pagan Nun
by Kate Horsley

(Note: This kit does not include discussion questions.)

"Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick... But disturbing events at the cloister keep intervening..." (from the publisher's comments)

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time - Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

"Christopher John Francis Boone... is autistic... Routine, order, and predictability shelter him from the messy wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher's carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

Daughter of fortune - Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune
by Isabel Allende

"...Eliza is a stranger in California. Cloaking her identity - and her sex - she must carve out a new life for herself by whatever means possible. Like thousands of other newcomers... she is thrust into a melting pot of unfamiliar languages and customs. But Eliza and Tao Chi'en quickly learn the value of assimilation, gradually discarding their own suspicions and prejudices..." (from the reader's guide at HarperCollins)

The deep end of the ocean - Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Deep End of the Ocean
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

"The Deep End of the Ocean is a story about every parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. It is a story that is all too familiar to many of us, made frighteningly routine by the young faces emblazoned on milk cartons or steeped in pathos by Hollywood scriptwriters. In Jacquelyn Mitchard's deft hands, however, the story of the Cappadora family is neither routine nor cliched. It is chillingly and beautifully real." (from the reading guide at Penguin Random House.)

Defending Jacob – William Landay

Defending Jacob
by William Landay

“… When Ben Rifkin, Jacob’s classmate, is found stabbed to death in the woods, Internet accusations and incontrovertible evidence point to big, handsome Jacob. Andy’s prosecutorial gut insists a child molester is the real killer, but as Jacob’s trial proceeds and Andy’s marriage crumbles under the forced revelation of old secrets, horror builds on horror toward a breathtakingly brutal outcome. “ (from the Publisher’s Weekly)

Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (Song of Ice & Fire, Bk.1)
by George R.R. Martin

“As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honor weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.” (

Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls

"Walls remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family's downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them--and to himself." (from Booklist)

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.” (

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

"The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The heart is a lonely hunter - Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

"At the novel's center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who is left alone after his friend and roommate, Antonapoulos, is sent away to an asylum. Singer moves into a boarding house and begins taking his meals at the local diner, and in this new setting he becomes the confidant of several social outcasts and misfits..." (from the reading guide at Houghton Mifflin)

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

"Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers." (from Publisher's Weekly)

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Arthur Conan Doyle

“[Sherlock] Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?” (

House Girl – Tara Conklin

House Girl
by Tara Conklin

“Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre–Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.” (

Into the Wild - John Krakauer

Into the Wild by John Krakauer

"After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive . . . (from Publisher's Weekly)

The kite runner - Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini

"...Amir... places the fate of his relationship with his father on the outcome of a kite running tournament... Yet just as he begins to feel that all will be right in the world, a tragedy... marks a turning point in Amir's life - one whose memory he seeks to bury by moving to America." (from the reading guide at Penguin Random House)

A lesson before dying - Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines

"In a story so simple that it might be a lost parable from the Gospels, Gaines has compressed the entire bitter history of black people in the South -- and, by extension, in America as a whole... Gaines's novel transcends its minutely evoked circumstances to address the basic predicament of what it is to be a human being..." (from the reader's guide at Vintage)

Life of Pi- Yann Martel

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

"God, survival, and tiger behavior. It's hard to imagine a more invigorating combination of discussion topics. We hope that the following questions will enrich your reading of Pi's fantastic journey. After all, Pi didn't have to make his voyage alone; neither should you..." (from the reader's guide at Harcourt)

Look Me in the Eye - John Elder Robison

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
by John Elder Robison

"Robison's thoughtful and thoroughly memorable account of living with Asperger's syndrome is fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood, his abusive alcoholic father and his mentally disturbed mother. Robison describes how from nursery school on he could not communicate effectively with others, something his brain is not wired to do, since kids with Asperger's don't recognize common social cues and body language or facial expressions." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino's death." (from Library Journal)

Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

"On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years." (from

Loving Frank - Nancy Horan

Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan

"Fact and fiction blend in a historical novel that chronicles the relationship between seminal architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, from their meeting, when they were each married to another, to the clandestine affair that shocked Chicago society." (from Novelist)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
by Kim Edwards

"In a tale spanning twenty-five years, a doctor delivers his newborn twins during a snowstorm and, rashly deciding to protect his wife from their baby daughter's affliction with Down Syndrome, turns her over to a nurse, who secretly raises the child. His deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters' lives, and their daughter's absence corrodes her birth family's core over the course of the next 25 years. (from Novelist)

The namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

"From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri's critically acclaimed first novel is a finely wrought, deeply moving family drama that illuminates her signature themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the tangled ties between generations." (from the reader's guide at Houghton Mifflin)

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout

"Thirteen linked tales present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening Pharmacy focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in A Little Burst, which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in Security, where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York." (from Publisher's Weekly)

Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline

“Seventeen-year-old Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer has spent most of her life in foster care. When she’s caught stealing a copy of Jane Eyre from the library, in an effort to keep the peace with her stressed foster parents, she ends up cleaning out elderly Vivian Daly’s attic. Molly learns that Vivian was herself an orphan, an Irish immigrant in New York who was put on the Orphan Train in the late 1920s and tossed from home to home in Minnesota.” (from Publisher's Weekly)

The other Boleyn girl - Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory

"When Mary Boleyn comes to court... she catches the eye of Henry VIII... However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn... as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

The Paris Wife - Paula McLain

The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain

"A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

The pilot's wife - Anita Shreve

The Pilot's Wife
by Anita Shreve

"Fighting the impulse to protect herself and her daughter from the details of the crash and the mystery surrounding it, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was - whatever that knowledge may cost. The search will lead her to shocking revelations, testing both the truth of her marriage and the limits of her ability to face it." (from the reading guide at Anita Shreve's website.)

The purpose driven life - Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life
by Rick Warren

"The most basic question everyone faces in life is Why am I here? What is my purpose? Self-help books suggest that people should look within, at their own desires and dreams, but Rick Warren says the starting place must be with God and his eternal purposes for each life." (from the book description at; also look at the reader's guide.)

Push - Sapphire

by Sapphire

"Push recounts a young black street-girl's horrendous and redemptive journey through a Harlem inferno. For Precious Jones, 16 and pregnant with her father's child, miraculous hope appears and the world begins to open up for her when a courageous, determined teacher bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary." (from Product Description)

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

"In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity." (from Novelist)

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

by Daniel H. Wilson

"Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike—yet massively powerful—artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour—the moment the robots attack—the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back." (from

Room – Emma Donoghue

by Emma Donoghue

“Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.” (

The secret life of bees - Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

"Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees is a powerful story of coming-of-age, of the ability of love to transform our lives, and the often unacknowledged longing for the universal feminine divine. Addressing the wounds of loss, betrayal, and the scarcity of love, Kidd demonstrates the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, to mother each other and themselves, and to create a sanctuary of true family and home." (from the reader's guide at Penguin Random House)

The Shack - William P. Young

The Shack
by William P. Young

"Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare." (from the Product Description)

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.” ( Part of the 2015 Great Michigan Read.

Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

"The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby can tell Janie's story to the nosy community on her behalf . Her life has three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three very different men." (from the article at Wikipedia)

The time traveler's wife - Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

"...the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, and were married when Clare was 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder..." (from the reading guide at Reading Group Guides)

Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

by Laura Hillenbrand

"Readers of this soul-stirring narrative will never forget Louis Zamperini, who after a career as a runner served in WWII only to be captured and held prisoner by the Japanese; a more horrific internment would be difficult to imagine. Zamperini's physical and spiritual sufferings both during and after WWII and his coming out the other side become the story of a true American hero from that greatest generation.” (from Publishers Weekly best books of 2010)

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed

" In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. “(from Publisher’s Weekly)

© 2019 William P. Faust Westland Public Library