The Book Discussion Group at the McClelland Library is led by Dr. Joyce East (left), a retired professor of Irish Studies, and Mary Wilber (right), a retired librarian and current member of the Scottsdale Library Board. The group seeks to engage members of our community with the tradition and excellence of all forms of Irish Literature.

Experience the discussion online

book group

As a new feature in Spring of 2015, the McClelland Library Book Discussion Group is going digital!  Join us to continue the discussion after meetings by becoming a member of our Facebook group.

On Facebook

And don’t miss a thing:

Theme: Family and Community in Irish Literature: Real and Imagined

Family has been the focus for great literature from Greek tragedies to contemporary novels.  Sophocles’s Antigone, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night come readily to mind. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy says, “All happy families resemble each other, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  And that unhappiness fuels the writer’s imagination.

Family is also important in Irish literature, even when other themes dominate.  At heart, Strumpet City, How Many Miles to Babylon?, and Cathleen Ni Houlihan are about family.  This coming series of book discussions will explore the lives of individuals—as family members and as members of Irish communities, real and imagined.

We begin in September with a contemporary novel by Belinda McKeon, one of the new voices in Irish writing. Then we turn back to the early 20th C. for J. M. Synge’s dramas on family and community.  Our third selection for 2016 will feature a child’s view of family–in a novel that earned the Booker Prize for Roddy Doyle.
In 2017, we explore our theme in three novels and a short story collection.  The selections move from the more traditional narrative style of John McGahern to the challenging free form of Dermot Healy.  Because there were many equally wonderful works left off this reading list, we will make additional suggestions throughout the season and share some poetry with you.



Sept. 24, 2016
Belinda McKeon, “Solace” (novel – 2011) September Guide
Nov. 5, 2016
John M. Synge, “The Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea”
(a comedy in three-acts, 1907, and a tragedy in one – act 1904) Synge-book-discussion-guide
You can find a free online copy of the play HERE
Dec. 3, 2016
Roddy Doyle, “Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha” (novel – 1993) paddy-guide
Jan. 28, 2017
John McGahern, “Amongst Women” (novel – 1990) discussion-guide-john-mcgahern
Feb. 25, 2017
Claire Keegan, “Walk the Blue Fields” (short stories – 2007) Walk the Blue Fields
March 25, 2017
Colm Tóibín, “Nora Webster” (novel – 2014) Guide on Nora Webster March
April 29, 2017
Dermot Healy, “Long Time, No See” (novel – 2011) DHealy discussion guide

Meeting Time and Place

Book discussions will be held from 10:30AM to 12:30PM in the McClelland Library’s Norton Room. Don’t forget to check our library, your local library, local book stores, and the internet to find your copy.

Above is the schedule of readings, with the exception of Nov. 5 and Dec. 3, all occur on the last Saturday morning in the month.