American Library in Paris Book Groups

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:

FAQs on Book Groups

Book groups are organized at the Library’s initiative and led by experienced Library volunteers. Book group leaders — and participants — have broad discretion on how they unfold.

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).

Book groups on different topics/themes are offered two times a year (in September/October and January/February) and meet once a month. Book group meetings take place in the Library unless otherwise advertised.

Please come to the first session prepared to discuss the chosen book. Arriving a few 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 soon as possible, as others may be on a waiting list.

The Library can provide some beverages (wine, juice, coffee, and tea) for the book group meetings, whose participants may also bring other refreshments or snacks. Everyone is responsible for clean-up in Library spaces, including the kitchen.

Please fill out the online application form. The conversation circle leader will confirm your participation (up to three members per group and up to three members on a waitlist) and send further details.

Book Groups (Spring 2018)

The French-American Encounter continued, led by Philippe Mélot

The group returns to its earlier themes of France and the United States, at different points in their histories. It meets on the following Wednesdays at 17h-19h to discuss the listed books:

14 February | Scars of Independence: American’s Violent Birth, by Holger Hook

28 March | Jefferson’s Great Gamble: The Remarkable Story of Jefferson, Napoleon and the Men Behind the Louisiana Purchase by Charles Cerami

11 April | Tocqueville revisited : Tocqueville’s discovery of America by Leo Damrosch and Tocqueville et les Apaches by Michel Onfray (in French)

23 May | The Lafayette Escadrille: A Photo History of the First American Fighter Squadron by Stephen A. Ruffin (and/or First to Fly The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille, the American Heroes Who Flew For France in World War I by Charles B. Flood.

Strangers in a Strange Land, led by Mary Harries Magnusson and Deborah Singleton

Why do people venture into the unknown? Why do they move to a new country or switch to a totally different way of life?  Some are fleeing the unbearable, or pursuing a dream. Others are responding to mixed motivations, or have been swept involuntarily onto life-changing paths. Whatever the scenario, they all have a story to tell. This group focuses on novels where protagonists are far from home – geographically and/or spiritually – and on how life in that new land affects their present and their future.

The group meets at 14h on the following Mondays (longer into the season than other groups:

15 January | The Constant Gardener, by John Le Carré

12 February | City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple

19 March | The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

9 April | Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

14 May | My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

18 June | Brideshead Revisited,by Evelyn Waugh

Technology and Other Threats to Democracy, led by Ed Turner

Turner’s book group continues, this season pivoting from its exploration of democracy in America to a larger look at it globally and how it is being affected by technology and other growing concerns. The group meets on the following dates from 17h to 19h.

27 February | Grave New World: The End of Globalization, the Return of History by Stephen D. King

22 March | Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

19 April | How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Communist States and Societies of the East – How Have They Evolved? led by Maury Lanman and Laurie Calvet

During the first 2/3 of the 20th century, revolutions around the world produced many states and societies under the banner of “Communism.” In this book group we will take a look at aspects of what has happened to four of these societies – North Korea, China, Vietnam and Russia. Where they are now in terms of their economies, politics, quality of life, and current prospects in the 21st century? The meetings will be held on the following dates from 17h-18h30.

20 February | Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

20 March | The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor

2 May | Vietnam: Rising Dragon by Bill Hayton

12 June | The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

Studying Shakespeare Plays, led by Neil Heims

This group continues from this past spring, reading and discussing the follow classic plays on the following Thursdays at 18H30:

1 Feb The Merchant of Venice [supplemented by Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, and The Prioress’ Tale from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales].

1 March | Othello

22 March | Cymbeline 

3 May | As You Like It

Puerto Rico and Its Layers, led by Graciela Carrasco

This book group shifts focus from exploring health care to exploring Puerto Rico for both the tragic reasons it has been in the news but also its dense history. It will meet on the following Thursdays at 19h30:

8 March | The Pond by Manuel Zeno Gandía

5 April | Yes, Mrs. Williams: A Personal Record of My Mother by William Carlos Williams

17 May | When I Was Puerto Rican, by Esmeralda Santiago and Puerto Rico Mio Jack Delano

Speakers’ books at the Library, led by Grant Rosenberg

Led by the Library’s programs manager, this group reads a selection of books that have been highlights of the Library’s’ ‘evenings with authors’ series. This second iteration of the group features a selection of books that explore family and cultural identity.

The group will meet on the following Thursday mornings at 10h30:

25 January | Forest Dark – a novel by Nicole Krauss

1 March  | Romany and Tom – a memoir by Ben Watt

5 April |  Five Star Billionaire – a novel by Tash Aw

3 May | My Life as a Russian Novel, by Emmanuel Carrère