Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, and Ryan Estrada

“But you can learn a lot about history by figuring out what people wanted to hide.”
― Kim Hyun Sook, Banned Book Club

I read Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada and illustrated by Ko Hyung-Ju right before Banned Book Week 2023 began. This week celebrates the freedom to read and the opposition to censorship. Banned Book Club couldn’t have been a more appropriate book to start off this year’s Banned Book Week. To boil it down, this book tells the story of a group of students who form a book club that reads banned books during the reign of South Korea’s Fifth Republic. They put their lives and the lives of their family and friends in danger in order to read censored and banned books, amongst other forms of protest.

In 1983, Kim Hyun Sook was finally able to convince her mother to let her go to college. She was beyond excited to start college, to expand her world, and to study Western Literature. Kim was ready for the break of working in her family’s restaurant. She couldn’t have known that her literature class would send her down a road that she never saw coming; it would be a massive turning point that would alter her life in a way she couldn’t imagine.

Kim’s decision to go to college happened in the midst of the South Korea’s Fifth Republic. This military regime found its way to power through torture, censorship, and the murder of protestors. When Kim started school, she was met with a wall of protestors hurling insults and molotov cocktails. Not interested in getting involved, she throws herself into her books. After meeting the editor of the school newspaper who invites her to join his book club, she is shocked to see that the group is actually an underground book club reading banned and illicit literature that the military regime has forbidden. Unsure of what to do, but wanting to read these books, Kim stays in the club and finds herself drawn into the dangerous activities that the other members are involved in. Soon she will be swept up in a torrent of fear and violence as the people of power close ranks on the protestors.

“Do they ban books because they see danger in their authors, or because they see themselves in their villains?”
― Kim Hyun Sook, Banned Book Club

February’s Celebrity Book Club Picks

It’s a new month which means that Jenna Bush Hager and Reese Witherspoon have picked new books for their book clubs! Reminder that if you join our Best Sellers Club, these titles will automatically be put on hold for you.


Jenna Bush Hager has selected Black Cake by Charmain Wilkerson.

Curious what Black Cake is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past–a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.

We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child, challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage, and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names, can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

This book is also available in the following format:


Reese Witherspoon has selected The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. 

Curious what The Christie Affair is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder—and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.

Every story has its secrets.
Every mystery has its motives.

“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman. It’s a particular feeling, the urge to murder. It takes over your body so completely, it’s like a divine force, grabbing hold of your will, your limbs, your psyche. There’s a joy to it. In retrospect, it’s frightening, but I daresay in the moment it feels sweet. The way justice feels sweet.”

The greatest mystery wasn’t Agatha Christie’s disappearance in those eleven infamous days, it’s what she discovered.

London, 1925: In a world of townhomes and tennis matches, socialites and shooting parties, Miss Nan O’Dea became Archie Christie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted and well-known wife, Agatha Christie.

The question is, why? Why destroy another woman’s marriage, why hatch a plot years in the making, and why murder? How was Nan O’Dea so intricately tied to those eleven mysterious days that Agatha Christie went missing?

This book is also available in the following format:

Join our Best Sellers Club to have Oprah, Jenna, and Reese’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

Off the Beaten Page by Terri Smith

off the beaten pageOff the Beaten Page by Terri Smith encourages avid readers, particularly those in book clubs and other groups, to leave the security of their living rooms and seek to experience in person the places they’ve read about.This book is ideal for anyone eager to mix their love of travel and quality time with friends or family with their desire for meaningful cultural experiences.

Inspired by years of excursions with her own book club, award-winning journalist Terri Smith offers lively, expert guidance through fifteen US destinations including Boston, Chicago, Austin, and Santa Fe. She describes each destination’s literary heritage and attractions and suggests three-day itineraries that include plenty of lit-inspired excursions – a tour of Santa Monica through the eyes of Raymond Chandler, a Devil in the White City view of Chicago in the Gilded Age, an exploration of Edith Wharton’s elite Newport, Rhode Island – while blending in “beyond the book” experiences such as Broadway shows, Segway tours and kayaking.

Practical, entertaining and inspirational, Off the Beaten Page is the ideal companion for adventurous readers or anyone looking to enrich a weekend getaway. (description from publisher)

New Bookclub in a Box kits!

The library just added 20 new kits to our Bookclub in a Box collection!  These kits include a minimum of 10 copies of a book along with a folder of discussion questions and book reviews.  Some of them even come with the book on CD.  Here’s a list of our newest kits:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

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

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Stranger Among Us

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Time is a River by Mary Alice Monroe

The Girls by Lori Lansens

New resources for your book club!

The library is in the process of adding 15 new kits to our Bookclub in a Box collection!  If you haven’t used them before, the kits are filled with multiple copies of a book (and even the audio version for some), a list of discussion questions, and other resources to build up your book discussion group.  We now have the kits at all three locations (Main Street, Fairmount Street, and Eastern Avenue), so stop by any of our locations to pick one up today!

Here are the newest titles that have been added to the Bookclub in a Box collection:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

No! I Don’t Want To Join A Book Club! by Virginia Ironside

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Save Your Own by Elisabeth Brink

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

And additional kits coming soon include:

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein

A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman

Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant

October is National Reading Club Month!

Oprah was on to something – book clubs are a great way to expand your appreciation and understanding of a book. Of course, books groups and sharing favorite titles has been around almost as long as the printed word, but thanks to Oprah there’s been a huge ressurgance in their popularity the past few years. The Women’s National Book Association celebrates book groups during the month of October, promoting the sharing of great books with the National Reading Club Month program.

Be sure to check out their 2010 selection of Great Group Reads – even if you don’t belong to a book group, lists like this can often point you toward that next great book. Book club books are usually timely, well-written, thoughtful and provocative, all of which add up to a great read. Just take a look at this list – anything on there you haven’t tried yet?

2010 Selections

Blame by Michelle Huneven
The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin
Room by Emma Donoghue
Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye
Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson

We Have a Winner!

Proving once again that reading pays off, we are pleased to announce the winner of our Favorite Book contest! Jason’s comment about Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, a “gripping and heartbreaking” novel about a girl struggling with anorexia, is our randomly chosen winner. Thanks to everyone who entered – my reading list just got a lot longer!

Looking for still more choice books, proven winners that will keep you turning the pages? Here are some sites to check for great ideas.

Book Club Girl – Focusing on books that would be great Book Club choices, there is also a lot of author information including live on-air author interviews.

Good Reads – Keep track of the books you’ve read, the books you want to read, find out what others are reading and contribute reviews and ratings.

Overbooked – Lots of annotated lists of new and notable fiction, non-fiction and crime fiction, often highlighting books that might otherwise be overlooked.

And Jason, please send your snail mail address to, attention: Ann, and I’ll get those two tickets to the Figge Art Museum out to you right away! Enjoy!

All Iowa Reads Chooses Book for 2010

DriftlessThe 2010 All Iowa Reads book was announced at the annual Iowa Library Association conference at the end of October. Praised as a “quiet masterpiece,” Driftless is the newest novel by David Rhodes.

Rhodes has an interesting back story, so to speak. He was a rising young writer at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and had several books published in the 1970’s.

A  motorcycle crash in 1977, which partially paralyzed Rhodes,  ended his publishing career till Driftless came out this year.

Driftless shares a rhythm with the farming community it documents, and its reflective pace is well-suited to characters who are far more comfortable with hard work than with words,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Watch the Davenport Public Library newsletter for announcements of events and discussions concerning Driftless throughout 2010.

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

Already a favorite with book clubs, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a charming novel that will make you laugh and cry about characters that seem as real as your neighbors.

During World War II Guernsey Island, situated in the English Channel, was invaded and occupied by the Germans beginning in 1940. All communication with England was completely cut off for nearly five years. The cruel practices of the German commanders and near starvation conditions forged strong bonds among the islanders.

Written as a series of letters between Londoner Juliet Ashton and the residents of the island shortly after the war, the history of the occupation of the island and the resident’s struggles to survive is slowly revealed. As the stories are told, a vivid picture of the people is painted – their strengths and weaknesses, their quirks and cleverness, their loyalty to and concern for others. When Juliet finally arrives at the island to visit, she is welcomed as part of the family and quickly takes her place in island lore.

There is a satisfying end to the book, but all of the characters suffer losses; it is their ability to move on while remembering and honoring what happened that make them so real and makes their stories come to life. Treat yourself to this novel – you’ll be glad you did.