Wednesday, April 02, 2003

2003 - 2004 Reading Group Suggestions Book Sense 76 Top Ten
Mar 27, 2003
This week, Book Sense This Week is publishing the top ten of the 2003 - 2004 Reading Group Suggestions 76, with bookseller quotes. Next week, BTW will feature the full listing, also with quotes.

The Reading Group Suggestions 76 was a great idea from stores, and many, many thanks to all those who gave so much help throughout the nomination process! It's our hope that this 76 will extend the reach of the program into the backlist and also provide you an effective new resource to market to all those great book buyers in reading groups. Stores will be receiving copies of the 2003 - 2004 Reading Group Suggestions 76 in the April white box.

For more information about this -- or any of the upcoming 76 lists, e-mail Dan Cullen at

2003 - 2004 Reading Group Suggestions Top Ten

1. THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, by Barbara Kingsolver (Perennial, $15, 0060930535) "Kingsolver transports the reader to the Congo in 1960, as a Baptist minister and his family try to convert Africans while dealing with the explosive dynamics within the country's political situation and within their own family. Book groups especially enjoy the distinct points of view of the mother and the four daughters, which Kingsolver masterfully crafts and develops throughout the book." --Kathy Schultenover, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

2. THE RED TENT, by Anita Diamant (Picador, $14.95, 0312195516) "This richly detailed story of a family caught between two cultures, matriarchal and patriarchal, is told by Dinah, daughter of the Biblical Jacob. The Red Tent offers reading groups the opportunity to discuss women's history and families struggling with conflict." --Rita Moran, Apple Valley Bookshop, Winthrop, ME

3. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, by Tracy Chevalier (Plume, $13, 0452282152) "A young servant is asked to model for Vermeer against the wishes of the artist's wife and family. You'll find intrigue, jealousy, and an extraordinary look into the life and work of the artist from the young woman's point of view." --Donna DeLacy, Portrait of a Bookstore, Studio City, CA

4. HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, by Andre Dubus III (Vintage, $14, 0375727345) "More than a riveting story of two people -- a formerly wealthy Iranian immigrant and a troubled young American woman -- fighting to own the same house, it is also a story of the clash of two cultures. It's an especially relevant book for discussion today, providing readers with insights into both the Muslim and American mind-sets." --Jeanne Morris, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, DE

5. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, by Arthur Golden (Vintage, $14.95, 0679781587) "Book groups will enjoy discussing the gender issues, including that the author is a man and an American and the story is told in the voice of a famous geisha. Golden convincingly portrays this exotic, mysterious side of 20th century Japan." --Margie Skinner, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

6. THE SPARROW, by Mary Doria Russell (Fawcett, $12.95, 0449912558) "A vivid, believable tale of space exploration and first contact, seamlessly woven into a story with ethical and religious overtones. Even if you're the type to avoid science fiction, do not miss The Sparrow! It is an engrossing, intelligent recount of a mission gone horribly wrong despite all the right intentions." --Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

7. THE HOURS, by Michael Cunningham (Picador, $13, 0312243022) "This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel makes brilliant use of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway to interpolate the stories of three women--two set in contemporary America, the third that of Woolf herself. Beautifully written and totally engaging, we watch as the characters' lives come together and illuminate each other. It's no wonder that The Hours is a book group favorite." --Karl Kilian, Brazos Bookshop, Houston, TX

8. ANGLE OF REPOSE, by Wallace Stegner (Penguin, $13.95, 014016930X) "This book epitomizes the difference in viewpoints in America between East and West 150 years ago. A young New Englander marries a mining engineer and settles in a small town in Colorado. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel raises age-old questions about how free women are to lead their own lives and what happens to marriage when partners cannot compromise." --Carla Cohen, Politics & Prose, Washington, DC

9. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, by Harper Lee (Warner, $6.99, 0446310786; Perennial, $11.95, 0060935464) "A classic that everyone should read. Two children's exposure to racism, prejudice, friendship, and loss is tempered through the loving guidance of their father." --Liz Morgan and Jean Brandt-Lietzau, Village Bookstore, Menomonee Falls, WI

10. PLAINSONG, by Kent Haruf (Vintage, $13, 0375705856) "A 17-year-old girl, pregnant and with nowhere else to turn, is persuaded to live with the two old McPherons brothers, bachelors who know far more about cattle than teenage girls. The deceptively 'plain' language and structure of this novel mask its complex view of what we owe, and what we can give, to each other. How the characters' lives are changed and their trajectories beyond the novel's close are questions you'll ponder long after you're finished reading." --Russ Lawrence, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton MT

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