September Book Discussions

Decorah Public Library staff are hosting five book discussions in September. The groups are open to the public and newcomers are encouraged to attend. Anyone interested should call the library at 382-3717 to learn more or to reserve a book. Zoom links are available on the Library’s website or you can email to be added to any of the five groups’ email distribution lists. Funds for multiple copy sets were generously provided by Friends of Decorah Public Library. 

For more information, contact Tricia Crary (Friday Book Group) or Kristin Torresdal (Happy Hour, History, and Speculative Fiction Book Groups) at 563-382-3717.


The Happy Hour Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. Sept. 13 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss Javier Zamora’s autobiography “Solito.” At nine years old, Javier Zamora journeyed three thousand miles from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He left behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years before and a father he barely remembered. Traveling alone except for a group of strangers and a coyote hired to lead them to safety, Javier’s trip was supposed to last two short weeks.

The Marriage Portrait

The Friday Book Group will meet via Zoom Fri. Sept. 15 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss Maggie O’Farrell’s “The Marriage Portrait.” Florence, the 1550s. Lucrezia, third daughter of the grand duke, is comfortable with her obscure place in the palazzo. But when her older sister dies on the eve of her wedding to the ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage, and her father just as quick to accept on her behalf. Having barely left girlhood behind, Lucrezia must now enter an unfamiliar court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed.



The Speculative Fiction Book Group will meet via Zoom Wed. Sept. 20 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss R.F. Kuang’s “Babel.” 1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel. The tower and its students are the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver-working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power. But as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland, and he is soon caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion.

The Paper Menagerie

Following the Speculative Fiction Book Group, the Speculative Short Fiction Group will meet at 6:15 p.m. via the same Zoom link to discuss stories 7-9 from Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie”: “The Regular,” “The Paper Menagerie,” and “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition.”  

The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic

The History Book Group will meet on the 2nd floor of the library Thurs. Sept. 21 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss Benjamin Carter Hett’s “The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic.” To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett chronicles the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands.