Off the Shelf: Outliers, Emily Alone and Others

Library book clubs are or will be reading titles by Malcolm Gladwell, Stewart O'Nan and Paula McLain, among others, reports Swampscott Library Director Alyce Deveau.


The numerous members of the book clubs at the are constantly in the building checking out the titles for their respective discussion groups.

“Afternoon Tea and Books” book club is reading Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy for the March 20th meeting. This is the story of Nöel who learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his.

He agrees to take care of the baby girl once she's born. But as a recovering alcoholic whose demons are barely under control, he can't do it alone. Luckily, he has an amazing network of family and friends who are ready to help.

For the April meeting, they will be reading Emily Alone by Stewart O’Nan. This is a sequel to the much-beloved Wish You Were Here which follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose children are grown and gone.

She dreams of visits from grandchildren and mourns the changes in her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily's days change. As she grapples with her new independence, Emily discovers a hidden strength.

The Popular titles book group is reading the Paris wife by Paula McLain. This book is set In Chicago in 1920 when 28-year-old Hadley Richardson meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris and become the golden couple in a lively group of expatriates, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. But as Hadley struggles with self-doubt and jealousy, Ernest grapples with his promising writing career.

This group will be reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.

The next generation book group’s March 26th book is I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson which dramatizes the dilemma of working motherhood at the start of the twenty-first century. Meet Kate Reddy, hedge-fund manager and mother of two. She can juggle nine different currencies in five different time zones and get herself and two children washed and dressed and out of the house in half an hour. In Kate's life, everything goes perfectly as long as everything goes perfectly.  In a novel that is at once uproariously funny and achingly sad, Allison Pearson captures the guilty secret lives of working women-the self-recrimination, the comic deceptions, the giddy exhaustion, the despair-as no other writer has.

The April 30th selection will be Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. There is a story that is usually told about extremely successful people, a story that focuses on intelligence and ambition. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them -- at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. The story of success is more complex -- and a lot more interesting -- than it initially appears.


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