7 Books on The Civil War for Book Clubs

Historical fiction lovers have it good: they can travel to distant places and times, and learn by immersion. The American Civil War is one piece of history that is filled with treats for fans of the form -- high drama, hazy battle lines between good and bad, black and white; and the sights and sounds of a nascent America still struggling to forge its identity. There are plenty of good books in this category, March by Geraldine Brooks and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier being two classics. Here are some others worth checking out. Please fee free to add your own suggestions at the bottom.

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Page-Turners to Pack - and to Discuss in Your Book Club!

Dear BookBrowsers,

It's a booklover's midsummer dream: to spend a whole day at the beach or in your backyard hammock, reading. Summer's necessary indulgences include chugging through a fast-paced novel or two, so we have included an entire lineup of gripping books that you simply won't be able to put down. Even better, they make for great discussion and come with reading guides, so you can be confident recommending them to your book club as well. Make sure to pack a couple of these in your beach bag. After all, every lazy day deserves page-turning action!

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Middle East Must-Reads

Summer might not seem like the time to visit desert sands, and sure, there's more than just desert in the Middle East. But the subject is always topical.

To make sense of the geopolitics, it helps to be steeped in a place, to try to understand the people and their motivations. These books won't make you an expert but maybe they will clarify the murk somewhat, allowing you to see varying parts of the Middle East through the eyes of people who live there.

Best of all, they are great to read for their own sake and also well suited for discussion. If you're ready for some armchair travel to a region of the world that's often terribly misunderstood, buckle your seat-belts and join us for the ride!

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Celebrating Diversity! Eight New & Notable LGBTQ Books for Young Adults

In celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, and in an effort to promote diversity in kids' literature, we've put together a list of eight highly praised LGBTQ books for young adults, all of which published (or will publish) in 2017.

Why is diversity in kids' literature so important? According to Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, and former selection committee member for both the Caldecott and Newbery awards, in her essay "Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors":

When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part. ...Children from dominant social groups have always found their mirrors in books but they, too, have suffered from the lack of availability of books about others....They need books that will help them understand the multicultural nature of the world they live in, and their place as a member of just one group, as well as their connections to all other humans. ...[B]ooks may be one of the few places where children who are socially isolated and insulated from the larger world may meet people unlike themselves. If they see only reflections of themselves, they will grow up with an exaggerated sense of their own importance and value in the world - a dangerous ethnocentrism.

What do you think of our list? If there are other outstanding YA LGBTQ books you'd like to add you can do so at the bottom.

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You've Got a Friend In Me: Celebrating Women's Friendships

There has been much talk in recent years about why women need friendships with other women. According to a much referenced 2000 UCLA study, friendships between women not only "soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are," they're also good for women's health. These nine books explore the various aspects of women's friendships in all their complexities.

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The Environment in Fiction

How do you take something as sprawling and all-encompassing as the environment around us and make it one of the primary players in fiction? These fascinating and compelling novels show us how it's done. What's more, they fulfill the basic premise of fiction, which is to make the story universal, to drive home the impact and maybe shed light on something we might not have heard about before. Just in time for Earth Day, these dramatic novels will doubtless give you plenty of fuel for discussion as we face the daunting challenge ahead of us.

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