“The only true threat to birds that has ever existed is us.”

JMRL’s Books on Tap met virtually on January 6th to discuss Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. Published in 2020, Migrations is the author’s first book of literary fiction, set in a near future where the impact of climate change has drastically reduced the global wildlife population. Part nautical adventure, part mystery, the reader is led to piece together the background of protagonist Franny Stone, who is determined to follow the migration of the last Arctic seabirds called terns.

Our readers seemed to really love this book, or not care for it at all. Several readers admitted to being moved to tears by the story, finding it compelling and intense. Most found the characters/crew on the Saghani fishing boat to be believable. More questions and conversations revolved around the human, personal decision characters make: how much do we expect others to risk for our own pursuits? When is courage healthy, and when is it a symptom and an exposition of deeper problems? Migrations also includes parent-child relationships as well as romantic relationships. 

In the end, we learn there was another motivation behind Franny’s journey to the terns and most of our group found the ending hopeful.

The author’s next book, Once There Were Wolves, published summer 2021, takes place in the Scottish highlands and continues the theme of man’s impact on the environment and wildlife. 

Other books mentioned:

Moby Dick

In the Kingdom of Ice

The Perfect Storm

Lab Girl

Hidden Figures


Books on Tap will meet on Thursday, February 3rd  at 7 pm, to discuss Beloved by Toni Morrison. Email Krista at kfarrell@jmrl.org for more information.

Brown Baggers Annual Selection Meeting – 2021

The Central Library Brown Baggers started as a third Thursday noon book discussion group back in September of 2008.  Brown Baggers is one of JMRL’s longest continuously running book groups. See what has been read over the years by checking this link.  The group is always open to new members and has varied in size over the years. 

Eleven Brown Baggers met virtually Thursday, December 16th to suggest titles for the group to read June 2022-May 2023.  A few regulars who couldn’t attend sent titles by email for consideration. We had a lively discussion as always with a good mix of non-fiction, fiction and classics suggested.  If you’re interested in seeing the full list of suggested titles, email Krista at kfarrell@jmrl.org.

If you were unable to attend and are on the Brown Baggers email list, you can still submit your 3 title suggestions to Krista by Thursday December 23rd.  Please consider choosing titles that are in the JMRL collection.  After the 23rd, library staff will put all of the suggested titles in an online poll for members to vote on.

Our next book discussion will take place Thursday, January 20, when we will discuss The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. If the full-length book is too long, try the summary! Feel free to email Krista at kfarrell@jmrl.org with any comments or questions, or for more information about Brown Baggers.

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

Books on Tap had a large group and a nice mild December evening (12/2) to discuss Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng — outdoors at Champion Brewing Company.  The novel takes place over one year in 1997/98 Shaker Heights, OH, where the author lived from the age of 10. The story focuses on two very different families, brought together by the friendships of their children, and touches on a wide range of themes including transracial adoption, surrogacy, motherhood, privilege, secrets, and community. 

Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl have a transient lifestyle, with Pearl knowing nothing about her father and little about her mother’s life prior to Pearl’s birth. They rent a place in Shaker Heights from Elena Richardson, a third generation resident, who lives a wealthy lifestyle with her husband and four children.  

Things get complicated pretty quickly for multiple reasons. Mia starts working for the Richardsons and Pearl becomes involved with the Richardson children. When close friends of the Richardsons plan to adopt an abandoned infant, the families (and community) are divided over who should have the child after the birth mother comes forward. Elena Richardson starts digging into Mia’s background and learns what she’s been hiding. And it turns out that the Richardson children have secrets of their own.

The “Little Fires” from the title is referenced a few times in the novel. In the opening scene the Richardson’s house is actually burning down, but there are various other opportunities in the plot for secrets to come to light and combust.   

The book was generally liked by the group and our discussion was wide-ranging. Readers were impressed with how the author sewed the plot together and presented the ethical and moral dilemmas the characters confronted. Whose side are you on? The group debated what makes a family — is it blood or heart/love? And the ending leaves readers to imagine what happens next with the Richardson and Warren families.

The book was adapted for a television miniseries on Hulu. Those who have seen it felt it followed the book pretty closely. 

Other books mentioned:

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Books on Tap will meet on Thursday, January 6 at 7 pm, to discuss Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. Email Krista at kfarrell@jmrl.org for more information.