Oct 26: The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Date: Monday, Oct 26, 2020
Time: 4:00 pm
Host: Zoom Virtual Meeting
Discussion: Gary


Time, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vox, Variety, Christian Science Monitor, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, The New York Public Library


In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades.

Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.

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Coming Up

Meeting Plans

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Oct 26

Book: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Host: Zoom
Time: 4:00 pm
Discussion Leader: Gary
Disappearing Earth

Nov 23

Book: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Host: Zoom
Time: 4:00 pm
Discussion Leader: Janet
Deacon King Kong

Dec 28

Book: Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Host: Zoom
Time: 4:00 pm
Discussion Leader: Allan

Books to Read

Recommendations & Ideas For Future Reading

  • Light Years by James Salter (Jo)
  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Robin)
  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (Eric)
  • Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart (Eric)
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Eric)
  • These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (Carol)
  • We the Corporations How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler (Lois)
  • Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Janet)
  • Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (Marilynn)
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (check out audiobook narrated by Tom Hanks) (Gary) [JANUARY PICK]
  • Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (Eric)
  • Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh (Allan)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Janet)
  • Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (Eric)
  • The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Lois)
  • The Plot Against America or another novel by Philip Roth. We read American Pastoral – see Philip Roth’s Best Book, NY Times
  • They Came Like Swallows by Williams Maxwell
  • The 10 Best Books of 2017 from the NYTimes
  • On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee (Janet)
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – memoir/nonfiction (Lois)
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary. Nonfiction. (Robin)
  • Harold Fry Series (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy) by Rachel Joyce (Jo)
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales. (Jo)
  • The Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (Allan)
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Deanna)
  • Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (Allan, Jo)
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood memoir by Fatima Marnissi (Deanna)
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Elaine)
  • Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (Nina)
  • A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe (1964) – Entertainment Weekly
  • Money by Martin Amis (1985) – Entertainment Weekly
  • The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse (1943) – Entertainment Weekly
  • Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison – Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction (1993), National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (1992)
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Jo)
  • War by Sebastian Junger
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan – history, nonfiction
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – memoir
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David Mccullough
  • Bloodmoney: A Novel of Espionage by David Ignatius
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009)
  • Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  • The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

Authors to read:

  • Don DeLillo: Libra, White Noise, Pafko at the Wall, The Names
  • Carl Hiaasen (satirical novelist, books based in Florida)
  • Grace Paley
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Saul Bellow
  • John Updike
  • Gay Talese
  • Suzan Lori-Parks
  • Ivan Doig
  • Stanislav Lemm
  • John Cheever

Suggest a Book

    Reading History

    2020-09Educated: A MemoirTaraWestoverDeanna
    2020-08Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern ArtLaneySalisburyEric
    2020-07American DirtJeanineCumminsMarilynn & Jo
    2020-05Lost Children ArchiveValeriaLuiselliCarol
    2020-02Man at the HelmNinaStibbeAllan
    2020-01The Free WillyVlautinJo
    2019-12On Earth We’re Briefly GorgeousOceanVuongMarilynn
    2019-11The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated MemoirThiBuiElaine
    2019-10There ThereTommyOrangeBob
    2019-08The Samurai's GardenGailTsukiyamaLois
    2019-07The ImmortalistsChloeBenjaminAllan
    2019-06A Gentleman in MoscowAmorTowlesBarbara
    2019-05Wolf BorderSarahHallJanet
    2019-04Born a Crime
    2019-03ZamaAntonioDi Benedetto
    2019-02Alexander HamiltonRonChernowDeanna
    2019-01PachinkoMin Jin LeeBarbara
    2018-12The Invention of Hugo CabretBrianSelznickJanet
    2018-11Childhood’s EndArthur C.ClarkeMichele
    2018-10The Underground RailroadColsonWhiteheadMarilynn
    2018-09The Reluctant FundamentalistMohsinHamidBob
    2018-08H is for HawkHelenMacdonaldDeanna
    2018-07The Line of BeautyAlanHollinghurstAllan
    2018-06Red SparrowJasonMatthewsLois
    2018-05SlideCarlWolfson*author in attendance
    2018-04Salvage the BonesJesmynWardRobin
    2018-03Exit WestMohsinHamidMarilynn
    2018-02The DinnerHermanKochDeanna & Wilfried
    2018-01Norwegian by NightDerek B.MillerJanet
    2017-12Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisJ.D.VanceAllen
    2017-11The Neruda CaseRobertoAmpueroMarilyn
    2017-09Lincoln in the BardoGeorgeSaundersAllen
    2017-08Before the FallNoahHawleyJo
    2017-07The Cellist of SarajevoStevenGallowayBob
    2017-06Crow LakeMaryLawsonMichele
    2017-05Tough Girl: An Olympian's JourneyCarolynWood*author in attendance
    2017-04The Handmaid’s TaleMargaretAtwoodJo
    2017-03The VegetarianHanKangJanet
    2017-02The SelloutPaulBeattyMarilynn
    2016-11This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!JonathanEvisonJanet
    2016-09The Round HouseLouiseErdichRobin
    2016-07Our Souls at NightKentHarufMichele
    2016-06Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBenFountainBob
    2016-05A Little LifeHanyaYanagiharaJo
    2016-04City of ThievesDavidBenioffAllan
    2016-02Unnecessary WomanRabihAlameddineJo
    2015-12The Girl on the TrainPaulaHawkinsMichele
    2015-11All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthonyDoerrRobin
    2015-10Super Sad True Love StoryGaryShteyngartAllan
    2015-09The MartianAndyWeirJanet
    2015-08Birds Without WingsLouisde BernieresDeanna
    2015-06The Snow ChildEowynIveyBob
    2015-05The Last of the BlacksmithsClaireGebben*author in attendance
    2015-04Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndAtulGawandeElaine
    2015-03Death of a River GuideRichardFlanaganWilfried
    2015-02The Ocean at the End of the LaneNeilGaimanRobin
    2015-01The Signature of All ThingsElizabethGilbertAllan
    2014-12The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyMary AnnShafferMarilynn
    2014-11The Leisure SeekerMichaelZadoorianMichele
    2014-10The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsDaniel JamesBrownDon
    2014-09The Hungry TideAmitavGhoshWilfried
    2014-08Where'd You Go, BernadetteMariaSempleJanet
    2014-07A Constellation of Vital PhenomenaAnthonyMarraJanet
    2014-06One Amazing ThingChitra BanerjeeDivakaruniAllan
    2014-05The Yellow BirdsKevinPowersBob
    2014-04Life After LifeKateAtkinsonJo
    2014-03A Tale for the Time BeingRuthOzekiMarilynn
    2014-01Sue Grafton Alphabet SeriesSueGrafton
    2013-12PerlaCarolinaDe RobertisDeanna
    2013-11The Orphan Master's SonAdamJohnsonAllan
    2013-09The OrchardistAmandaCoplinMichele
    2013-08A Home at the End of the WorldMichaelCunninghamJanet
    2013-07Beautiful RuinsJessWalterJohn & Ilana
    2013-06A Lady's Life in the Rocky MountainsIsabella L.BirdDeanna
    2013-04The Sense of an EndingJulianBarnesWilfried
    2013-03The Night CircusErinMorgensternMarilyn
    2012-12The Art of FieldingChadHarbachDon
    2012-11Mink RiverBrianDoyleJohn and Ilana
    2012-09The Sea RunnersIvanDoigJanet
    2012-08The Tiger's WifeTeaObrehtMichele
    2012-07Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseJonathan SafranFoerElaine
    2012-06Purple HibiscusChimamanda NgoziAdichieDon
    2012-04The Sisters BrothersPatrickDeWittAllan
    2012-03The Social AnimalDavidBrooksJohn
    2012-02The Girl Who Fell From The SkyHeidi W.Durrow
    2012-01The Lemon TreeSandyTolan
    2011-12The ImperfectionistsTomRachman
    2011-11The Many Aspects of Mobile Home LivingMartinClark
    2011-10In the Company of AngelsThomasKennedy
    2011-09Lean on PeteWillyVlautinMichele
    2011-08The Hunger GamesSuzanneCollins
    2011-07A Visit from the Goon SquadJenniferEgan
    2011-06The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksRebeccaSkloot
    2011-05Cutting for StoneAbrahamVerghese
    2011-04The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two FatesWesMoore
    2011-02Parrot & Olivier in AmericaPeterCarey
    2011-01The Farming of BonesEdwidgeDanticat
    2010-12Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAronRalston
    2010-11Red AprilSantiagoRoncagliolo
    2010-10The HelpKathrynStockett
    2010-09The Importance of Being EarnestOscarWilde
    2010-08Baron in the TreesItaloCalvino
    2010-07The White TigerAravindAdiga
    2010-06I Know This Much is TrueWallyLamb
    2010-05Let the Great World SpinColumMcCann
    2010-04Lost HorizonJamesHilton
    2010-03Olive KitteridgeElizabethStrout
    2010-02The Space Between UsThrityUmrigar
    2010-01The Constant GardenerJohn le Carre
    2009-12The Catcher in the RyeJ DSalinger
    2009-11The Girl with the Dragon TattooStiegLarsson
    2009-10Things Fall ApartChinuaAchebe
    2009-09The Heart is a Lonely HunterCarsonMcCullersMichele
    2009-08The Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese FamilyLaurenKessler
    2009-06The Enchantress of FlorenceSalmanRushdie
    2009-05Mister PipLloydJones
    2009-04Lush LifeRichardPrice
    2009-02The MoviegoerWalkerPercy
    2009-01Wide Sargasso SeaJeanRhys
    2008-12Revolutionary RoadRichardYates
    2008-10Victim of the AuroraThomasKeneally
    2008-09Dreams From My FatherBarackObama
    2008-08Out Stealing HorsesPerPetterson
    2008-07Three Cups of TeaGregMortenson
    2008-06The Red and the BlackStendhal
    2008-04Kitty & VirgilPaulBailey
    2008-04Persepolis and Persepolis 2MarjaneSatrapiMichele
    2008-03The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJunotDíaz
    2008-02The Golden NotebookDoris MayLessing
    2007-12The Amateur MarriageAnneTyler
    2007-11The Memory of RunningRonMcLarty
    2007-10Friday Night Lights: a Town a TeamH.G.Bissinger
    2007-10The Blind Side: Evolution of a GameMichaelLewis
    2007-09Water for ElephantsSaraGruen
    2007-08The History of LoveNicoleKrauss
    2007-07The MarchE.L.Doctorow
    2007-06Suite FrancaisIreneNemirovsky
    2007-05Devil in a Blue DressWalterMosley
    2007-04The Inheritance of LossKiranDesai
    2007-03The Professor and the MadmanSimonWinchester
    2007-02Little ChildrenTomPerrotta
    2007-01The Little FriendDonnaTartt
    2006-12Desperate CharactersPaulaFox
    2006-11The HuntersJamesSalter
    2006-10Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or SucceedJaredDiamond
    2006-08The Road to WellvilleT.C.Boyle
    2006-07Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the WestGregoryMaguire
    2006-06The ArchivestMarthaCooley
    2006-04ParadisoJose LezamaLima
    2006-02A Confederacy of DuncesJohn KennedyToole
    2006-01In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its ConsequencesTrumanCapote
    2005-12The Left Hand of DarknessUrsula K.Le Guin*author in attendance
    2005-11Brick LaneMonicaAli
    2005-10The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed AmericaErikLarson
    2005-09A Trip to the StarsNicholasChristopher
    2005-07Brazzaville BeachWilliamBoyd
    2005-06The Lovely BonesAliceSebold
    2005-05The TapestriesKienNguyen
    2005-04Dogs of BabelCarolynParkhurst
    2005-03The Known WorldEdward P.Jones
    2005-02Peace Like a RiverLeifEnger
    2005-01Everything is IlluminatedJonathan SafranFoer
    2004-12The Book of SaltMoniqueTruong
    2004-11About a BoyNickHornby
    2004-09The Kite RunnerKhaledHosseini
    2004-08The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeMarkHaddon
    2004-07Chronicle of a Death ForetoldGabriel GarciaMarquez
    2004-06Master and CommanderPatrickO'Brian
    2004-04Life of PiYannMartel
    2004-02Fahrenheit 451RayBradbury
    2004-01Saints and VillainsDeniseGiardina
    2003-12Three JunesJuliaGlass
    2003-11Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented ArchitectureRossKing
    2003-10Seabiscuit: An American LegendLauraHillenbrand
    2003-09A Lesson Before DyingErnestGaines
    2003-08The CorrectionsJonathanFranzen
    2003-07Open HouseElizabethBerg
    2003-06Cold MountainCharlesFrazier
    2003-05Fencing the SkyJamesGalvin
    2003-03Fast Food NationEricSchlosser
    2003-02True History of the Kelly GangPeterCarey
    2003-01The Night ReaderAmisteadMaupin
    2002-12Make Lemonade and True BelieverVirginia EuwerWolff
    2002-11A Bend in the RiverV.S.Naipaul
    2002-10Motherless BrooklynJonathanLethem
    2002-09The Blind AssassinMargaretAtwood
    2002-08The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayMichaelChabon
    2002-07Girl With a Pearl EarringTracyChevalier
    2002-06The Feast of LoveCharlesBaxter
    2002-04The SparrowMary DoriaRussell
    2002-03A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusDaveEggers
    2002-02La Dame dans l’Auto avec des Lunettes et un Fusil (Lady in a Car with Glasses & a Gun)SébastienJaprisot
    2002-01The House of Sand and FogAndre Dubus III
    2001-12Platero and IJuan RamónJiménez
    2001-11This Side of BrightnessColumMcCann
    2001-10Mendel's DwarfSimonMawer
    2001-08American PastoralPhilipRoth
    2001-07The Man Who Fell in Love with the MoonTomSpanbauer
    2001-06A Map of the WorldJaneHamilton
    2001-05The Widow KillerPavelKohout
    2001-04The HoursMichaelCunningham
    2001-02The Magician's AssistantAnnPatchett
    2001-01Life & Death in ShanghaiNienCheng
    1999-12Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneJ.K.Rowling
    1999-12The TempestWilliamShakespeare
    1999-11The Poisonwood BibleBarbaraKingsolver
    1999-10Memoirs of a GeishaArthurGolden
    1999-09July's PeopleNadineGordimer
    1999-08The Executioner's SongNorman Mailer
    1999-07Enduring LoveIanMcEwan
    1999-06The BeachAlex Garland
    1999-05One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey
    1999-04The Invisible ManRalph Waldo Ellison
    1999-03Piano LessonsNoah Adams
    1999-02The ReaderBernhard Schlink
    1999-01Native SonRichard Wright
    1998-12The Perfect StormSebastian Junger
    1998-11Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck
    1998-10Cold MountainCharles Frazer
    1998-09Main StreetSinclair Lewis
    1998-08Betrayed by Rita HayworthManuel Puig
    1998-07Sons & LoversD.H.Lawrence
    1998-06The Sky FishermanCraig Lesley
    1998-05The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway
    1998-04A Civil ActionJonathan Harr
    1998-03The Bone PeopleKeri Hulme
    1998-02Undaunted CourageStephen Ambrose
    1997-12Behind the Scenes at the MuseumKate Atkinson
    1997-11Native SpeakerChang-Rae Lee
    1997-10Into the WildJon Krackauer
    1997-09The Talented Mr. RipleyBarbara Hightower
    1997-08The Ghost RoadPat Barker
    1997-07Independent PeopleHaldor Laxness
    1997-06Last OrdersGraham Swift
    1997-05She’s Come UndoneWally Lamb
    1997-04Midnight in the Garden of Good & EvilJohn Berendt
    1997-03Montana 1948Larry Watson
    1997-02Brothers KaramazovFyodor M. Dostoevsky
    1996-12The Woman LitFirefliesJimHarrison
    1996-11Stones from the RiverUrsulaHegi
    1996-10Praying for SheetrockMelissa FayGreene
    1996-09The PaperboyPeteDexter
    1996-08Independence DayRichardFord
    1996-06Corelli’s MandolinLouisDe Bernieres
    1996-05Open SecretsAliceMunro
    1996-04In the Lake of the WoodsTimO’Brien
    1996-03Mr. VertigoPaulAuster
    1996-02Snow Falling on CedarsDavidGuterson
    1995-12The AlienistCalebCarr
    1995-11The Stone DiariesCarolShields
    1995-10Spectator BirdWallaceStegner
    1995-09Cowboys Are My WeaknessPamHouston
    1995-08Body & SoulFrankConroy
    1995-07Killer AngelsMichaelShara
    1994-12Jungle BookRudyard Kipling
    1994-11The Shipping NewsAnnie Proulx
    1994-10Goat BrothersLarry Colton
    1994-09All the Pretty HorsesCormack McCarty
    1994-08Pugilist at RestThom Jones
    1994-07Venus EnvyRita Mae Brown
    1994-06The English PatientMichael Ondaatje
    1994-05Rebel AngelsRobertson Davies
    1993-12Where the Bluebird Sings in the Lemonade SpringsWallaceStegner
    1993-11A Story like the WindLawrence Vanderpost
    1993-10Age of InnocenceEdithWharton
    1993-09LolitaVladimir Nabakov
    1993-08How the Garcia Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia Alvarez
    1993-07Autobiography of Malcolm XMalcolm X
    1993-06Pilgrim’s HarborFloyd Skloot
    1993-05Great PlainsIan Frazier
    1992-12The Brothers KDavid JamesDuncan
    1992-11Animal DreamsBarbaraKingsolver
    1992-10Natural SelectionFrederickBarthelme
    1992-08Remains of the DayKazuoIshiari
    1992-06Rising SunMichaelCrichton
    1991-12The House of the SpiritsIsabelAllende
    1991-11Death Comes for the ArchbishopWillaCather
    1991-10Smilla’s Sense of SnowPeterHøeg
    1991-09Young Men and FireNorman Maclean
    1991-08Leaving CheyenneLarry McMurtry
    1991-07Portrait of a LadyHenry James
    1991-06Ordinary Love & Good WillJaneSmiley
    1991-05A Yellow Raft in Blue WaterMichaelDorris
    1991-04Den of ThievesJames B.Stewart
    1991-03Palace WalkNaguibMahfouz



    Book Group NapkinsZOOM


    • Jan 27 | 1:30 pm | Robin
    • Feb 24 | 1:30 pm | Janet
    • Mar 23 | 1:30 pm
    • Apr 27 | 7:30 pm
    • May 4 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 1:30 pm
    • Jun 22 | 7:30 pm
    • Jul 27 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Ros*
    • Aug 24 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Carol*
    • Sep 28 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Lois*
    • Oct 26 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Elaine*
    • Nov 23 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Deanna*
    • Dec 28 | Virtual meeting with Zoom | 4:00 pm | Allan*


  • Jan 25 | 1:30 pm | Bob
  • Feb 22 | 1:30 pm | Marilynn
  • Mar 22 | 1:30 pm | Gary
  • Apr 26 | 7:30 pm | Robin
  • * Changes to dates or hosting schedule
    ** Meeting time change

    Hosting order: Deanna, Allan, Bob, Marilynn, Wilfried, Gary, Robin, Janet, Ros, Carol, Lois, Elaine. On hold: Jo, Barbara, Michele

    Book Group meetings are held monthly on the 4th Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the summer and 1:30 p.m. in the winter, unless otherwise noted.