The Bluffton Book Club selects its 2010 reads

Anyone who has had to suggest a title to a book club knows the stress of selecting something that will engage readers and spark lively discussion. Luckily, the Bluffton librarians have a few resources and "tricks of the trade" to share.

Novelist, a database included in the EbscoHost suite of research products, includes discussion guides and reviews from reputable sources (Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). It also provides lists of author "read-alikes," award winners and recommended reads. DISCUS offers a literature resource center and What Do I Read Next?, two useful resources for scanning the literary horizon. These are all available at; contact your local branch for login instructions and passwords.

The Bluffton Library Book Club is free and welcomes all adults, whether they've read the book or not. There are no membership requirements; come if or when you can. The club meets the third Wednesday of each month (except July and December) at 1 p.m. in the Bluffton Library's small conference room.

Jan. 20: Testimony by Anita Shreve

A New England boarding school is rocked in the wake of a sex scandal that derails the innocence and best intentions of students, parents and others in life-shattering ways.

Feb. 17: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout

In the small town of Crosby lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and the world but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her. The story includes 13 linked tales that create a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection.

March 17: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

In 1946, Laura McAllan, a college-educated Memphis schoolteacher, becomes a reluctant farmer's wife when her husband, Henry, buys a farm on the Mississippi Delta, a farm she aptly nicknames Mudbound. This poignant and moving debut novel takes on social injustice in the postwar Mississippi Delta. Here, two families -- the landowning McAllans and their black sharecroppers, the Jacksons -- struggle with the mores of the Jim Crow South.

April 21: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Set in Stockett's native Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s, this novel adopts the complicated theme of blacks and whites living in a segregated South. Black maids raised white children and ran households, but were paid poorly and watched the children they cared for commit bigotry. In the book, three women, an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.

May 19: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

In a highly readable form of bibliotherapy, first-time novelist Genova, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience, meticulously traces the downward spiral of a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Feeling at the top of her game when she is suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, Harvard psychologist Alice Howland struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life as her concept of self gradually slips away."

June 16: Half Broke Horses: a true-life novel by Jeannette Walls

"Best-selling author Walls (The Glass Castle) tells the even more gripping tale of her maternal grandmother, the formidable horse-training, poker-playing rancher and teacher Lily Casey Smith. Because she patched the story together from reminiscences, used her imagination to fill in the gaps, and decided to have Lily narrate so we could all experience her sharp-shooter's directness, Walls calls this a novel."

August 18: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

"Focusing on the world of medicine, this epic first novel by doctor and author Verghese (My Own Country) follows a man on a mythic quest ….Twin brothers born from a secret love affair between an Indian nun and a British surgeon in Addis Ababa, Marion and Shiva Stone come of age in an Ethiopia on the brink of revolution, where their love for the same woman drives them apart."

September 15: Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

"The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu."

October 20: House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

"A portrait of American manners and morals at the turn of the century offers the saga of Lily Bart, a beautiful heroine who lacks one requirement for marrying well in New York society--her own money."

November 17: Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

"Tragedy, revenge, suspicion, and love are the ingredients for the latest offering from the author of the acclaimed Chocolat . Framboise Dartigen recounts what happened in her tiny village of Les Laveuses during the German occupation and why after carrying the secret for more than 55 years she hid her identity upon returning."