Priscilla’s Bookshelf

Priscilla’s Bookshelf

What is Priscilla’s Bookshelf?

Priscilla’s Shelf is named for longtime Loveland resident Priscilla L. Beal, and was started with money that her friends donated to honor Priscilla and to further her lifetime commitment to reading and learning, and in specific, to book groups.
From her obituary: “Priscilla committed her life to reading and learning, and empowering others to read and learn. She instigated the founding of the Johnstown Public Library, served for many years on the Loveland Public Library Board, and was a charter member of the Junior Great Books Club of Loveland. Everywhere she lived she founded book clubs, and through them forged enduring friendships; friendships with the intimacy and depth only book lovers understand. “
With money donated to the Priscilla’s Shelf Fund through the Friends of the Loveland Public Library, we make a collection of approximately 45 book kits available for book groups to check out.
The kits are constantly updated, available for check out for 6 weeks, and contain 10 copies of the same book as well as a notebook with book reviews, author information and discussion questions.
The contact person for Priscilla’s Shelf is Adult Services Librarian Caroline Hilligoss,, 970-962-2765.

Note: (NF)= Nonfiction. All others are novels.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie, c. 2007.
The story of how geek fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit gets off the “rez” to go to a white high school, and what he gains and loses by doing so. Culture shock is only the beginning!

Angle of Repose

Wallace Stegner, c. 1971.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery; personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents’ remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America’s western frontier. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.

Art of Racing in the Rain

Garth Stein, c. 2008.
“A heart-wrenching but deeply funny story and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope – a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life.”

The Beautiful Mystery

Louise Penny, c. 2012.
When a peaceful monastery in Québec is shattered by the murder of their renowned choir director, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec are challenged to find the killer in a cloistered community that has taken a vow of silence. This title, the eighth in the Chief Inspector Gamache Series by multi-award-winning Penny, works beautifully – and mysteriously – as a stand-alone. Beloved, Toni Morrison, c. 1987. A dead child, a runaway slave named Sethe, and a terrible secret; these are the central concerns of Beloved, a dense, complex novel that yields up its secrets one by one. As Morrison takes us deeper into Sethe's history and her memories, the horrifying circumstances of her baby's death start to make terrible sense. “Beloved may well be the defining novel of slavery in America, the one that all others will be measured by.” – review. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1988.


Kent Haruf, c. 2013.
Haruf returns to his setting of the eastern plains town of Holt, Colorado, to tell the end-of-life story of Dad Lewis and the people whose lives he has affected. “…His story transcends being about death, and becomes instead a touching meditation on the connections, and separations, that make a life.” (From the back cover.)

Burial Rites

Hannah Kent, c. 2013.
Inspired by a true event, this is the story of the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Crooked Letter

Tom Franklin, c. 2010.
The intertwining of two childhood friends and two murders separated by more than twenty years form the basis for this literary thriller. A volatile collision of racism, family secrets, shame, fear, and friendship. Loveland Loves to Read Selection, 2013.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon, c. 2003.
Mathematically gifted and autistic, Christopher Boone sets out to investigate the suspicious death of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers the secrets of his own family.

Cutting for Stone

Abraham Verghese, c. 2010.
Twin brothers, born to an Indian nun and a British surgeon, grow up amid pre-revolutionary turmoil in Addis Ababa to become doctors. Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is a story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania (NF)

Erik Larson, c. 2015.
A chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as Woodrow Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat, and architect Theodate Pope Riddle. On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. As the Lusitania its way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small - hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more - all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

The Dog Stars

Peter Heller, c. 2013.
A post apocalyptical story of Hig – pilot, nature-lover and poet – and his uneasy alliance with his survivalist neighbor Bangly. Both and Hig and Bangly contribute to each other’s safety and continued existence, but eventually Hig must leave the “perimeter” and risk all to retain his humanity. Set in Erie and Grand Junction, CO.

Empire Falls

Richard Russo, c. 2001.
Blue collar life in a crumbling New England mill town becomes the setting for a cast of fully realized characters in thrall to the town’s matriarch. This comic, poignant masterpiece won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History (NF)

S.C. Gwynne, c. 2010.
“Gwynne doesn’t merely retell the story of Parker’s life. He pulls his readers through [the] American frontier….This book will leave dust and blood on your jeans.” - The New York Times Book Review.

*NEW*Good Lord Bird

James McBride, c. 2014.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, argues with his master, Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival. Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, 2013.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, c. 2008.
January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation.

The History of Love

Nicole Krause, c. 2006.
A complex, heart-wrenching and unforgettable story spanning a period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At its center are issues of loneliness and the need to fill a void left by lost love.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Jamie Ford, c. 2009.
Belongings of Japanese families interned during World War ll emerge in 1986, bringing back memories of friendship between a young Japanese girl and a Chinese American boy, and a deeply felt view of a turbulent moment in U.S. history.

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd, c. 2014.
On Sarah's eleventh birthday, she is given ownership of ten-year-old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next 35 years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other's destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. Loosely based on the life of the little-known Sarah Grimke, the book brings together anti-slavery as well as women’s rights issues.

La’s Orchestra Saves the World

Alexander McCall Smith, c. 2008.
In 1939, La flees London, with its bombs and her failed marriage, to a new life in the countryside, full of music and unintended consequences. Loveland Loves to Read Selection, 2012.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (NF)

Bill Bryson, c. 2006.
For most of his adult life, Bryson had made his home in England, yet he was born in 1951 as part of America’s post-war baby boom and spent his formative years in Des Moines. He wistfully recounts a childhood of innocence, optimism, and a rich fantasy life as a superhero: The Thunderbolt Kid.

*NEW*A Man Called Ove

Fredrick Backman, c. 2014.
A curmudgeon hides a terrible personal loss beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior while clashing with new neighbors, a boisterous family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship. “This charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers…hysterically funny…wry descriptions, excellent pacing…in the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden, generous heart.” (Kirkus Reviews)


Geraldine Brooks, c. 2005.
Remember when you read Little Women? Did you notice that Mr. March, the father was never around? Brooks has imagined him as a Civil War chaplain, and has fleshed out an entirely different and fascinating aspect of the March family.

Murder at the Brown Palace: A True Story of Seduction and Betrayal (NF)

Dick Kreck, c. 2003.
A love triangle leads to murder, mayhem and scandal in 1911 Denver – true crime! Author Dick Kreck worked as senior columnist/journal with the Denver Post, and also wrote for the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Times. Loveland Loves to Read Selection, 2010.

My Antonia

Willa Cather, c. 1918.
In this enduring American classic, an orphan boy and an immigrant girl find hardship, love and fulfillment on the prairie, when it was the American frontier.

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Alexander McCall Smith, c. 1998.
Mma Ramotswe, proprietress of the agency, solves mysteries great and small with observation, intuition, kindness and humor. Loveland Loves to Read Selection, 2012.

Ordinary Grace

William Kent Krueger, c. 2013.
Narrator Frank Drum, now 54 years old, remembers his fateful coming of age in New Bremen, MN, 1961. That summer, tragedy struck the Drum family, which included his thoughtful Methodist minister father, his passionate but distant mother, his Juilliard-bound older sister, and his wise-beyond-his-years kid brother. Edgar Winner for Best Novel of 2013, and Loveland Loves to Read selection, 2015.

The Orphan Train

Christina Baker Kline, c. 2013.
Foster teen Molly Is performing community service work for elderly widow Vivian, who, as a young girl, was taken from an orphanage in New York to a new life on an orphan train. As Molly and Vivian go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, their two stories are told, and they discover that their lives have much in common.

Plague of Doves

Louise Erdrich, c. 2008.
The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation. In her inimitable style, Erdirch, a National Book Award-wining author, weaves together the divergent narratives of those involved, and those who still bear the consequences and the scars of the crime.

*NEW*The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend

Katarina Bivald, c.2016.
Sara has traveled from Sweden to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town.

Salvage the Bones

Jesmyn Ward, c. 2011.
Hurricane Katrina is approaching. As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family of motherless children and a hard-drinking father pulls itself up to face another day. A difficult, beautiful novel about family, and a wrenching look at the brutal realities of rural poverty. National Book Award Winner, 2011.

The Secret Life of Bees

Sue Monk Kidd, c. 2002.
Set in the racist south of 1964, this story of a young girl who fells from abuse concerns divine female power and transformative love – a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

So Much for That

Lionel Shriver, c. 2010.
Shep Knacker’s long-cherished plan to use the million dollars from the sale of his handyman business to retire to a tropical island receives a gut-wrenching blow when his wife, Glynis, is diagnosed with a rare cancer. A powerful look at the effect of health care policies on middle-class Americans, this book raises the unsettling question about the worth, both financial and emotional, of a human life.

Station Eleven

Emily St. John Mandel, c. 2015.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time, this story charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova, c. 2009.
The author, a doctor of neuroscience, chronicles the downward spiral of a psychology professor coping with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin, c. 2014.
“The story of A. J. Fikry’s life includes the joys and heartbreaks that happen in most of our lives and the books that make our lives richer. Anyone who loves books, bookstores, and the world that reading opens up will love this book.” –The Wichita Eagle

Too Close to the Falls (NF)

Catherin Gildiner, c. 1999.
A memoir of a most unusual childhood in a 1950s small town Catholic family, where the word “normal” doesn’t apply. At age four, Cathy is given a wage-earning job to channel her rambunctious energy; her adventures will keep you entertain and astound you.

Tortilla Curtain

T. C. Boyle, c. 1995.
In the tradition of the great American social novel, this is a tale of the good and the not so good, the haves and the have-nots, the men and women who risk everything to cross the Mexican border and “invade” the American dream.

Unbroken (NF)

Laura Hillenbrand, c. 2010.
The inspiring story of Louie Zamperini--a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero who survived a WWll plane crash at sea, only to be “rescued” and imprisoned by cruel and brutal Japanese captors.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan, c.2011.
Bennie is an aging punk rocker and record executive; Sasha is a passionate, troubled young woman he employs in this inventive novel where music is both subject and metaphor. An inventive investigation of growing up and growing old in the digital age. Pulitzer Prize Winner, 2011

A Walk in the Woods (NF)

Bill Bryson, c. 1998.
The Appalachian Trail is both the place and the excuse for lessons of history, ecology, and hilarity.

The Water is Wide (NF)

Pat Conroy, c. 1974.
A beautifully-written book that chronicles the year the author, spent teaching in a two-room schoolhouse on Yamacraw Island off the coast of South Carolina. An early memoir by the bestselling author of Prince of Tides and The Great Santini.

The Work of Wolves

Kent Meyers, c. 2004.
Four oddly matched misfits conspire to rescue three abused horses: a tale of moral responsibility, hidden family history, and human dignity set in the South Dakota Bad Lands. Loveland Loves to Read selection, 2016.

Year of Wonders

Geraldine Brooks, c. 2001.
Village England, 1666: What it feels like to be both a victim and survivor of the Plague. “A collision of faith, science and superstition."

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