Book Groups


Join one of our book clubs

Engage in stimulating conversation about books and exchange perspectives about characters and plot in an informal and friendly environment. Readers have been introduced to many interesting books, varying from recent biographies, poetry, historical novels and well-known classics, to recent prize-winning novels or more obscure titles which members might not have discovered for themselves.

Book Groups on different themes begin twice a year (in September/October and again in January/February) and meet once a month at the Library. There is no additional fee for the book groups, but you must be a member of The American Library in Paris to participate. To sign up for a group, send an email to programs manager Grant Rosenberg at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

FAQs on Book Groups

Do I have to be a member to join a book group?

Yes. If you are not yet a Library member but would like to participate in one of our book groups, please join the Library before the first session of your selected group or be prepared (and leave enough time) to join or renew at the first session (check/cash/credit card, photo ID and proof of residence required).

How often and where do book groups meet?

Book Groups on different themes begin twice a year (in September/October and again in January/February) and meet once a month. Group meetings take place in the Library unless otherwise advertised.

What should I do for the first book group session?

Please come to the first session prepared to discuss the first book on the list. Arriving 15 minutes early will allow everyone to become acquainted. If you will not be present, you are expected to let the book group leader know, as others may be on a waiting list.

How do the groups work?

Discussion groups are organized at the Library’s initiative, but group leaders -- and members -- will have broad discretion in how they unfold.

Are snacks or beverages provided?

The Library will provide coffee, tea, and water for the discussion groups, whose members also may wish to bring other refreshments or snacks. Group members are responsible for clean-up in Library spaces, including the kitchen.

How do I sign up for a book group?

Please send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You must include the TITLE of your desired group in the SUBJECT LINE and your MEMBERSHIP NUMBER in the body of the email

The group leader will confirm your participation (up to twelve members per group) and send further details.

 

Book Groups Spring 2016

Proust‘s Gift, led by Morgan Thomas

This group, originally begun in September 2015, will continue the slow and careful reading of Marcel Proust's masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), while widening the focus to consider the cultural, political and social context in which it was created. A few places are still open for new members who have already started the novel, or who would be willing to catch up with the rest of the group. Reading may be either in English or French.

This group meets on the following Thursdays at 14h to 16h:

January 28
February 25
March 31
April 28

Morgan Thomas is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and Princeton University.  He has been leading book groups at the American Library in Paris since 2009.  His last group was a two-part survey of the literature of France in the 17th century, Le grand siècle.

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Inside the Supreme Court, led by Philippe Melot

This group will look behind the law and decisions of the Court, to better know the personalities of the justices of both the present court and that of decades past.

The four books will be:

Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman
The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court by Bob Woodward 
The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman

The group will meet on Fridays at 10:30 on the following dates:

January 29
February 26
March 25
May 6

Philippe Mélot is a semi-retired lawyer, the founder and a partner at Legalteam, a consulting firm specialising in management consulting for law firms and legal departments.He is also involved in the Executive Master General Counsel, a program set up at Sciences Po Executive Education. Having grown up near Utah Beach in Normandy, he specialized in US political History at Sciences-Po He was the vice-president of the American Club of Paris ( 2006/7) and President of the Cavaliers de Lafayette, a bike club promoting Franco American friendship through rides across France and the US. (He rode hisbike from Seattle to Boston in 2010 and presented the trip at a Library program in November 2010).

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Inside Poetry, led by Peter Fellowes

This groups will look at the early works by Dante, Wordsworth, Stevens and Eliot in considering the range of effects produced by poets elaborating upon received myths and conventions compared to those obliged to invent their own.

The four books will be:

Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova (ca.1294), tr. Mark Musa
William Wordsworth, The Lyrical Ballads (1798)
Wallace Stevens, Selections from Harmonium (1923)
T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland (1922) and Little Gidding (1943)

The group will meet on Thursdays (with one exception) at 10:30 on the following dates:

February 9 (Tuesday)
March 10
April 7
April 28

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New Literature in French, led by Marjorie Lallemand

Is French literature dead, as some foreign commentators would have it? Not even close, as we'll see in this group, returning for its fourth season. How better to engage with this culture than by through its latest novels? These books will be read in the original French but discussed in English.


The group will meet on Saturdays at 10h30, on the following dates to discuss the following books:

January 30 -  Princesse Vieille Reine, a play by Pascal Quignard 

February 13 -Bettencourt Boulevard ou une histoire de France, a play by Michel Vinaver 

March 12 - Titus n'aimait pas Bérénice, a novel by Nathalie Azoulai

April 2 - Camarade Wang achète la France, a novel by Stéphane Fière

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Life on our Globe and in the Era of Globalization and the Technology Explosion led by Maurice Lanman and Laurie Calvet

These four award winning or top rated books describe the lives and living conditions of people (and animals!) in many corners of the world. The selection provides a close-up view of what real people are experiencing outside of the western world middle class lives that most of us inhabit. A different perspective perhaps from the high-level system oriented books we have been reading in the fall session. 

The group will meet at 17h-18h30 on these days with the following books:

February 18 — The Unwinding by George Packer
March 17 — Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
April 14 — Age of Ambition by Evan Osmos 
May 26 — Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina

Laurie Calvet holds a PhD in Applied Physics from Yale University (2001) and is currently research staff in the French CNRS at the Université Paris-Sud. Her research interests include the applications of nanodevices to hardware implementations of neural networks.

Maury Lanman, is a retired computer systems engineer, living in Paris and Austin, TX. He's now pursuing lifelong interests in history, evolution, origins of the universe, the brain and consciousness, artificial intelligence, impacts of technology - and anything else that draws his attention. Professionally, he most recently worked in telecommunications product development for Alcatel-Lucent in Paris and Milan.

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Slavery and Racism in America, led by Ed Turner

Continuing from last year, this group will further explore the legacy of slavery and racism in the United States.

The group will meet at 17:00 on these days to discuss the following books:

25 February — Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert
24 March — Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman
21 April — The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
26 May — The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson

Last modified on Saturday, 30 January 2016 18:37