Book Discussion Group

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 former 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.

Book Discussion Newsletter

Get information on study guides and any changes

joyce and mary

The McClelland Library Book Club for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023

Meetings will be held in person in the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library Norton Conference Room at 10:30am.

Theme – “The Emergence of Irish Literature”

In this decade of anniversaries associated with the emergence of an independent Ireland, The Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library is examining the roots of the patriotic, governmental, and international forces that formed the Irish Free State. The book discussion group will join in that endeavor by looking at the emergence of Irish literature. We will examine the roots of what became one of the widely respected literatures in the world, one that includes four Nobel prize winners, four Booker winners since 1969, and perhaps the most famous writer of all, James Joyce. We’ll address basic but difficult questions: How do we define “Irish Literature”? How are we to relate to Anglo-Irish literature? How should we regard the loyalties of those who wrote the early works we are reading? In addition to the principal piece of literature each month, we will consider a few poems by emerging Irish poets, such as Thomas More and W. B. Yeats.

** Availability of texts: We’ve tried to be aware of the costs of these texts, but you may want to consider a “reading buddy” to share the costs. Most libraries will have copies, but you can check online sources (Amazon, ABE Books, Powells) and local secondhand stores (Bookmans). The plays may be found in anthologies of drama. We also suggest that you check Gutenberg Project, an online resource for literature, including Swift’s essays (at For a more copious edition of Swift, check out Norton—via Amazon—for editions of Swift with careful texts (including Gulliver’s Travels), backgrounds, and criticism.

Schedule for 2022 – 2023

September 24 Jonathan Swift, essays: “A Short View of the State of Ireland” (1727) and “A Modest Proposal” (1727) Study Guide

October 29 Richard Sheridan, “The Rivals” (a play, 1775) Study Guide

December 3 Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan, “The Wild Irish Girl” (novel, 1806) Study Guide

January 28 James Stephens, “The Crock of Gold” (fantasy, 1912) Study Guide

February 25 Peig Sayers, “Peig” (autobiography, 1936) Study Guide

March 25 Walter Macken, “The Silent People” (novel, 1962) Study Guide

April 29 G.B. Shaw, “Major Barbara” (play, 1907)

Book Discussions: In so far as it is safe to do so, we are committed to live meetings. Should the Irish Cultural Center and the City of Phoenix determine that precautions need to be taken, we will adhere to their advice. We’ll keep you posted if our initial plans need to change. Please understand that our goal is to keep the book group well and reading.