Telling Kentucky's Story

Book Discussions

Free and easy!
Reading and discussing good books brings members of a community together. The Kentucky Humanities Council makes it easy for libraries (and other nonprofit groups) to offer their communities book-discussion programs on Kentucky history and literature.

You arrange the program, then we provide a grant of up to $1,000 that covers book purchases, publicity, and honoraria for discussion leaders. Here's how simple it is:

  • CHOOSE four books from the lists below that will attract a group of people (preferably at least 10) who'll read the books and meet at regular intervals to discuss them.
  • FIND college teachers or other scholars familiar with the books to lead the discussion sessions. You can have the same discussion leader for all the books, or up to four different leaders. (However many you want, we'll help you find them.)
  • FILL OUT and submit an application at least six weeks before your program starts. As long as money is available, properly completed applications are automatically funded. No cash expenditure by the sponsor is required.
  • PUBLICIZE the program as widely as possible. Be sure to submit your final report when it's over.

For application forms and more
information about
KHC book-discussion
programs, contact

Kathleen Pool at
859/257-5932, or
206 East Maxwell,
Lexington, KY 40508.

Just the Facts: Kentucky History, Biography, and Autobiography

Clear Springs: A Family Story, Bobbie Ann Mason. The renowned author's story of how she became a writer.

Daniel Boone: An American Life, Michael A. Lofaro. Thirty years of research illuminates this new biography.

Elvis Presley, Bobbie Ann Mason. A fellow Southerner's concise, sympathetic look at Presley, a smalltown boy consumed by the cultural firestorm he ignited.

Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, Robert Vincent Remini. A life of the great politician.

How the West was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay, Stephen Aron. From the clash of Indian and European cultures, the "settled" Kentucky of the 1800s emerges.

Lincoln of Kentucky, Lowell Harrison. The story of Lincoln's lifelong, and often difficult, relationship with his native state.

Modern Medea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child Murder from the Old South, Steven Weisenburger. A prize-winning history of the event that inspired Toni Morrison's Beloved.

No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home, Chris Offutt. A chronicle of a writer's return to Kentucky.

Songs of Life and Grace, Linda Scott DeRosier. An eastern Kentuckian tells her parents' love story.

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, Wendell Berry. Explores the web-like connections between people and the land.

The Wall Between, Anne Braden. The story of Louisville civil rights activists Anne and Carl Braden.

The Way We Were: Historical Fiction about Kentucky

Anne & Alpheus 1842-1882, Joe Survant. Monologues between a frontier man and woman.

Feather Crowns, Bobbie Ann Mason. The birth and fate of Kentucky quintuplets in 1900.

Hacey Miller, James Sherburne. An emancipationist works on the underground railroad.

Hunter 's Horn, Harriette Simpson Arnow. Mountaineer life during the Great Depression.

None Shall Look Back, Caroline Gordon. A Civil War novel with agrarian themes.

Run Me a River, Janice Holt Giles. A Green River adventure set in 1861, the first year of the Civil War.

The Dollmaker, Harriette Simpson Arnow. Masterwork tracing a woman's journey from rural Kentucky to Detroit.

The Great Meadow, Elizabeth Madox Roberts. Recounts the heroism of the Kentucky pioneer.

World Enough and Time, Robert Penn Warren. A modern retelling of a notorious 1820s murder.

Fiction and Poetry: Classics by Kentuckians

A Garden in Kentucky, Jane Gentry. A cycle of poems exploring the marvels of existence.

Corregidora, Gayl Jones. Classic novel of a blues singer haunted by slavery.

Famous People I Have Known, Ed McClanahan. A funny writer's riotous memoirs.

Hell and Ohio: Stories of Southern Appalachia, Chris Holbrook. Stories of the complexities of life in eastern Kentucky

Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories, Gurney Norman. Classic stories about growing up in eastern Kentucky.

Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions, Maurice Manning. Postmodern poems of rural Kentucky.

Out of the Woods, Chris Offutt. Short stories of the conflicts of home.

River of Earth, James Still. Classic novel about the struggles of a mountain family in the 1930s.

Shiloh and Other Stories, Bobbie Ann Mason. Celebrated collection about western Kentuckians in the throes of change.

The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry. On the day he dies, a 92-year-old man recalls his past.

Yates Paul: His Grand Flights, His Tootings, James Baker Hall. Comic coming-of-age novel.

Hot off the Press: Recent Books and Best Sellers

Affrilachia, Frank X. Walker. Poems about the search for history and identity.

A Parchment of Leaves, Silas House. Story of an Appalachian family in turmoil in 1917.

Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, Frank X. Walker. Imagining the experience of the only black member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

From the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected Poems, James Still. Representative poems by an Applachian master.

Home and Beyond, Morris A. Grubbs, ed. An anthology of Kentucky short stories, 1945-2000.

Judge: A Novel, Dwight Allen. A novel tracing the tumultuous aftermath of a Louisville judge's death.

Keeping the Faith: A Skeptic's Journey, Fenton Johnson. Memoir of a spiritual homecoming.

Miss America Kissed Caleb, Billy C. Clark. Heartbreaking and comic Appalachian tales.

Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver. An ecological novel set in southern Appalachia.

Rafting Rise, Joe Survant. A vivid tale of life along the Green and Rough rivers in 1916-1917

The World is Round, Nikki Finney. Poems and stories in an eclectic and universal chorus of voices.

Transgressions, Sallie Bingham. Short stories of timeless conflicts of the heart.

Ultima Thule, Davis McCombs. Poems inspired by Mammoth Cave and the landscape above it.

Water Street, Crystal E. Wilkinson. A second collection of short stories by the Lexington writer.

New Books For New Readers

NEW BOOKS FOR NEW READERS have made it easier for thousands of adult literacy students to enter the wonderful world of reading. These books, which cover topics of adult interest in language simple enough for beginning readers, have been distributed free to libraries and literacy centers all over Kentucky.

NEW BOOKS book-discussion programs are designed for reading students and their tutors. These are our most popular book-discussion programs.

STUDENTS read two books chosen from the list here and, with their tutors, meet with a scholar to discuss the books. Any two New Books can be used for a program.

  • Kentucky Folklore
  • History Mysteries
  • Choices
  • Women Who Made a Difference
  • Home Voices
  • Three Kentucky Tragedies
  • Kentuckians Before Boone
  • Kentucky Ghosts
  • Heartwood
  • Kentucky Home Place
  • Fights for Rights
  • Into the Wilderness