Books

 

Books Groups Love

A selection of our best books according to groups. Click or tap on any book to view it in the catalogue and read more reviews from groups.

 

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2011
Pages : 375
Virtually unknown in her native Poland, Irene Sendler's World War II exploits organising the rescue of Jewish babies, were brought to prominence in 1999 by three American high school students developing a play for a National History Day project in Kansas. In a poetic counterweight to the inhumanity of the Holocaust, this project demonstrated just the opposite: Protestant American school children celebrating the work of a Catholic woman saving Jewish babies in a Polish ghetto.

An edifying story of courage, unsung heroes and the inspiration of people working together to make a difference.

Comments from Groups:

The discussion our Book Club had after reading "Life in a Jar" was probably the most "in-depth" and stimulating we'd ever had. Although most of the content was appalling, there was an uplifting element also. Most definitely a recommended read. Amberley 001

Very moving. Christchurch 125

We had mixed opinions on this book. Several of us thought it was too long, but were pleased to have learnt the story. Hamilton 034

The group agreed that this was an "important read', and were grateful to have been exposed to Irena Sendler's story. Too much to talk about - however it was a very positive discussion. Christchurch 229

The story of Irena Sendler was of great interest, but most readers did not like the style, finding it too simplistic. There were mixed reactions to the story of the Kansas girls - some found this fascinating, others were bored by it. All agreed the wartime treatment of Jews was unfathomable and reprehensible, and that Irena and all those that helped showed great courage. We could not imagine ourselves in those circumstances, or know how we would act... Auckland 050

We were all very pleased to have learnt about Irena Sendler. The style of writing irritated some, but the total story was well worth the read. A fascinating lady; and we all wondered how we would cope in the same situation. It is a story that needs to be told, and all credit to the students and their teacher. Dannevirke 001

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Categories: Non fiction, Biography, War theme, Community, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Human Rights, Morals/Ethics, America, What's Hot, 2016 Titles, Poland

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 352
When widower Arthur Pepper, an entrenched creature of routine, plucks up the courage to sort out his beloved wife's belongings, he comes across an expensive gold bracelet that he doesn't recognise. Just what did Miriam get up to before their forty years of marriage? Tracing the provenance of each of the charms takes Arthur on an odyssey that reveals as much about him as it does about Miriam.

A delightfully eccentric and amusing story of self-discovery and the unexpected rewards of throwing off the shackles.

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Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Love story, Relationships, Uplifting, England, Light style, What's Hot, 2018 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2014
Pages : 392
Who would have imagined it; trounced by a university rowing team! At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, a crew of young American lads won gold, defeating the German team who were expected to win. This is the story of these working-class boys, particularly young Joe Rantz who rises from adversity to participate in this triumphant event.

Capturing the difficult economic and social conditions in the US at the time, and the rise of Nazism in Europe, this is a moving and inspiring piece of history given full rein in this detailed story. [Small font]

Comments from Groups:

This was an extremely popular book with our group.Five members gave it 10/10. We felt that we were in the boat with the men. The description was wonderful. It was an emotional story and also such an interesting historical record. Joe was such an amazing person who, despite such adversity, was never bitter. Ultimately it was a triumphant and uplifting book. Highly recommended. Christchurch 001

We all enjoyed this book despite the small print. Recommended by all. Good discussion held. Drummond 001

What a wonderful read. Most of our group had already read this and it was enjoyed again by all. If we had had this one before the survey ( to choose our favourite book) this would have beaten the others. An excellent, well written book. Winton 001

A very dense and verbose story using 10 words where one would do; it nevertheless told quite a compelling and interesting chapter in American social and sporting history. Essentially this was Joe Rantz's story, which was a pretty tragic one. It was amazing what he achieved when compared with his upbringing and circumstances.... Pukeko 001

We all loved 'The Boys in the Boat'. Some loved the detail about the rowing, others enjoyed the background stories of deprivation in the Depression, and the rise of Hitler. The photos added to the book's authenticity and enjoyment. A book to be highly recommended to others. Wellington 050

An excellent discussion. All enjoyed the book - some more than others. Small print not enjoyed. Enjoyed the history - led to greater understanding of the effects of the Depression. Author's style had us in the boat on tenterhooks. Ashburton 003

An excellent book. Provoked a lively and interesting discussion. Riversdale 001

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Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Historical, Human Rights, Inspirational, Morals/Ethics, America, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, 2017 Titles, Small font

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2012
Pages : 200
When Daniel Mercier's eyes alight on an abandoned black felt hat in a Paris restaurant, it's not just any old hat; it belongs to none other than President Francois Mitterrand. And that's not all: surprising things happen to wearers of the hat, so discovers Daniel and the next temporary custodian, and the next ...

Entertaining and charmingly nostalgic, this story of destiny is a delightfully whimsical Gallic adventure. Translated from the French.

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Categories: Fiction, Relationships, Translation, Uplifting, France, What's Hot, 2017 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2013
Pages : 402
Although his enemies in the Surete are sharpening their knives, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Homicide Department gives the appearance of 'business as usual' as he goes about investigating the death of a woman who was once one of the most famous people in Canada. Moving between the isolated village of Three Pines and Montreal, the gentlemanly Gamache must solve the mystery of Constance Pineault's life while simultaneously uncovering the corruption festering in the Quebecois elite.

Quirky characters, carefully controlled tension and a lacing of subtle humour render this multi-layered story a most satisfying and enjoyable read.

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Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Relationships, Suspense/Thriller, Canada, What's Hot, 2017 Titles, Blind Foundation book

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 436
Single mum 'Rabbit' Hayes is coming to the end of her innings ... prematurely, it has to be said but that is not going to stop her making the most of what time she does have left. Gathered at the hospice in her final days are her friends and family, recalling and celebrating the life she has led to the full.

Tempered with Irish humour and the perfect balance of sadness and hope, this is a credible, heartwarming story of a reluctant but beautiful journey.

Comments from Groups:

Everyone LOVED this book! Hard to start, then hard to put down! 9/10 loved the characters (especially Molly); thought it a well constructed novel; a privilege to read, and admired the huge strength of their family bond. We thought the interaction brilliant, although thought their ethics questionable re not telling Juliet about her mother's imminent death. A perfect book about death and dying. Excellent! Whitianga 002

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Categories: Fiction, Grief/loss, Humour, Inspirational, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, What's Hot, 2017 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2014
Pages : 282
According to Benjamin Franklin, 'in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes'. In this book American surgeon Atul Gawande addresses the first of these certainties and the death that awaits us all. Beginning with the history of residential care for the elderly and moving on to the issue of medical intervention, this is a thought-provoking analysis presenting these issues in an open and easy to read style.

Confronting the harsh realities of our mortality, this book is a springboard into examining our attitudes and expectations for our eventual demise, well supported by research and the author's professional and personal experiences in USA and India.

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Categories: Non fiction, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Philosophy, Social commentary/perspectives, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, 2017 Titles

Genre : Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2012
Pages : 396
"Finn fell." Such simple little words to start a story, such simple words that belie the truth behind the event. Five-year-old Finn's fall from the first floor verandah of his family's Hawke's Bay home is shocking in its unexpectedness and a signal that all is not well in the McNamara household. Recently emigrated from the UK, expectations are being exceeded all round, except that is, for Sacha, and that's just teenagers for you ... isn't it?

This thought-provoking novel delves into every parent's worst nightmare with recognisable characters and setting, events that ring true, and a courageous exploration of the social issues that we face in our homes and communities.

Comments from Groups:

One of the best books we have read this year. We loved that it was set in the Hawkes Bay and that we could picture the landscape etc. It was a suspenseful novel, and many could hardly put it down. We loved the writing style, and identified with the mother's difficulty in not being able to tell the truth, and her torment because of it. Recommend highly. Christchurch 238

Everybody enjoyed Second Chances, and felt that the author handled all the various threads of the plot well. She touched on several very contemporary issues - drug abuse, child abuse, immigration and family dynamics - and held our interest throughout.. Katikati 001

Everyone loved our book this month. Most agreed it was the very best book we had read this year. We really felt that Norman's experience as a barrister gave her great insight into how real people deal with difficult circumstances. We thought she created a very believable family dynamic. As New Zealanders, we loved the way she saw NZ through the eyes of immigrants - the scenery, the generosity and friendship of the locals. Otorohanga 003

A well paced and well researched story. There was plenty to discuss with issues around migration, teenage difficulties and NZ drug problems. We recommend this book! Tauranga 015

This was an enjoyable read, with themes particularly familiar to some of the migrants in our group. An author to look out for. Timaru 016

Mixed reviews - some loved it, others thought it readable but not a great read, more of a holiday read. Wellington 120

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Categories: Fiction - New Zealand, Community, Contemporary, Family Saga, Grief/loss, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, Blind Foundation book

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2011
Pages : 317
Loyal citizens one minute, enemy aliens the next, Bin Okuma and his Japanese-Canadian family are interned during World War II. Decades later and recently widowed, Bin, now a celebrated artist, returns to British Columbia, revisiting the memories of this period of his childhood and attempting to lay to rest the traumas of dislocation and injustice, including his being given away for adoption.

Distinguished by its delicate and unsentimental approach, this story explores a difficult episode of Canadian history, while reflecting on the challenges of loss and reconciliation.

Comments from Groups:

Everyone in the group loved this book - the descriptive language and the story. The best book we've had. [Auckland 277]

Thoroughly enjoyed by seven of our eight members. [Hamilton 007]

Brilliant writing. We all loved it and would like more of her books. [Auckland 189]

We all loved reading Requiem. It was a revelation to us that the Japanese community in Canada was treated so badly. The characters were sympathetically portrayed and it was beautifully written. [Queenstown 003]

Everyone enjoyed this book. [Hastings 010]

We all loved this book. Frances Itani is the best writer, and one we had never heard of before. A moving and exceptionally well written book. [Hamilton 029] This is the only book that our whole Book Club has loved and enjoyed. It is a book to be recommended to all. A must read. Christchurch 078

There was a unanimously positive reponse by our group to 'Requiem'. It was felt that the novel was well constructed, with amazingly descriptive passages, dealing with emotions sensitively. All agreed that it was well researched and instructive. We were ignorant of the Japanese internment camps in the USA and Canada, and knew little of the camp in Featherston. Whangarei 002

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Categories: Fiction, War theme, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Historical, Relationships, Canada, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, 2016 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2014
Pages : 335
Although he grew up in a poor black community in the American South, Bryan Stevenson is a Harvard graduate, a law professor and an influential and impassioned advocate for those at the bottom of the heap. With their fate resting in the balance, he established a legal practice, the Equal Justice Initiative, which has successfully defended many of those most in need.

With one in three black men imprisoned in the USA, his plea for justice and mercy from their dysfunctional criminal justice system is compelling and powerfully argued. A disturbing but undoubtedly inspiring story. [Small font]

Comments from Groups:

This book provoked great conversation. We were all equally appalled at the state of the American Criminal Justice system and how there is so much discrimination against the African-Americans, women and the mentally disabled. We voted this our most challenging book this year. [Christchurch 196]

A very stimulating and timely read. This book should be read by everyone to remind us of our freedom and political choices. [Taupo 007]

For once were were unanimous - all thought it was a most stimulating, horrific account of the author's work. We were full of admiration for Bryan Stevenson - his perseverence, philosophy and humanity. This book colours our reading of 'events' in the US. [Christchurch 058]

All agreed that this was compelling and at times hard to put down as the content is so challenging. Lively conversation about racism. [Raumati 001]

General concensus - well-written and enlightening. Though at times horrifying. One member found it so distressing it affected her sleep. Bryan Stevenson's commitment to battling for his death row clients is inspiring in an unbelievably corrupt system. We learnt a lot! [Wanaka 005]

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Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Human Rights, Inspirational, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Political, America, What's Hot, Popular Book with Groups, 2017 Titles, Small font

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