Building a Better Book Club

Southeast Library

Building a Better Book Club

Library research and Lahiri's 'The Lowland'

The Lowland NoveList recordHere at the DC Public Library, we are happy to host a wide assortment of book clubs that connect D.C.'s avid readers with each other and provide a forum for richer reading experiences. 

We have started the brand new Capitol Hill Reads Book Club, along with our sister neighborhood library, Northeast, and local book store, Riverby Books. Our first book was The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, which includes a variety of historical, philosophical, political, and cultural references that piqued my interest. I wanted to know more about these, so I turned to our research databases for help. Here is what I found.
  • NoveList is a database that offers access to reviews, summaries and suggestions for finding similar books. It parses out different aspects of the book into other searchable categories. A recent addition to the library's catalog is direct access to NoveList records from the DC Public Library website. Consider NoveList when your book club is considering its next title.
  • The library has a few general reference databases, including Encyclopedia Britannica. One of the characters in The Lowland becomes involved with the Indian communist Naxalite movement. Reading the encyclopedia article certainly helped me to understand the context of that movement better.
  • Another of The Lowland's characters throws her life into the study of philosophy, focusing on Germans like Hegel and Schopenhauer. Not only does the library have digital copies of the original works of these philosophers, we also offer an online course on the basics of philosophy. 
  • Lastly, the library has books! To learn a little more about Lahiri's themes of immigration and family dynamics, I turned to our online catalog which pointed me to our books on parentingadoptionisolation and immigration
Any of these resources can be a good starting point for adding depth to your book club discussion. If you lead a discussion group, consider consulting our collection of databases online or ask your librarian for assistance.

Our next Capitol Hill Reads discussion will be held on April 17 at 6:30 pm at the Northeast Library (330 7th St. SE). We will be reading The Circle by Dave Eggers. Contact David for more information.