Martha Merrell’s hosts a variety of book clubs and is pleased to offer the following services free-of-charge to area clubs.

We can:

  • Provide a meeting space for clubs
  • Provide a selection of books for your club to choose from
  • Special order club selections
  • Provide a 15% discount on club selections
  • Facilitate discussions
  • No-charge consulting on new books and current trends
  • Share what other clubs are reading

We invite you to stop by our location at 231 West Main Street in the Avalon Square Building.

Discover what we have to offer!

Contact us to set up your club meeting at the store on a regular monthly basis. If you are interested in using our space on a more occasional basis, feel free to schedule a time with us as well.  (New surroundings can be just what your book club needs to invigorate itself.)  We will gladly accommodate your group’s needs including light refreshments, lunch or dinner. 


Monday Morning Group meets at 10:30 AM

4/8/24    Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus

Cooking is chemistry. When Elizabeth Zott enters a relationship with the brilliant Calvin Evans, she cooks him meals in exchange for sharing his home. They are both scientists at a California research institute in the 1960s, and although she has to fight for basic supplies like beakers, he is celebrated for the funding his work generates. When their relationship is tragically cut short, she turns to cooking and lands a job as the chef of a television show, allowing her to support her daughter, Madeline. Stymied in her scientific career by the misogynistic attitudes of her colleagues, Elizabeth nevertheless persists in this unflinching examination of the hurdles women of the era had to overcome to be valued similarly to men in the workplace. With the help of a forthright neighbor, a loyal TV producer, and an astute dog, Elizabeth forges a path that includes an unexpected hobby as a rower and her no-nonsense cooking show, in which she draws on her knowledge of chemistry. Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived.

5/6/24    The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon

Spanning the winter of 1789-90 in Hallowell, Maine, from the freezing of the Kennebec River to its late thaw, this novel is based on the actual life of frontier midwife Martha Ballard, who recorded daily diary entries about her household and career. Called to examine the body of Joshua Burgess after it was retrieved from icy waters, Martha recognizes the telltale signs of hanging. Burgess and another man, a local judge, had been accused of raping a young pastor’s wife four months earlier, and Martha believes her account unquestioningly. She also guesses the two crimes are connected. A sage, strong presence at 54, Martha is an extraordinary character. Devoted to her patients and her six surviving children, mostly young adults with complicated love lives, she battles subjugation by a Harvard-educated doctor who dares to think her incapable. Although this isn’t a traditional detective story, Martha’s narrative will capture historical mystery fans’ attention with its dramatic courtroom scenes and emphasis on justice, particularly for women. Flashbacks to Martha’s past add context and generate additional suspense. Martha’s enduring romance with her supportive husband, Ephraim, is beautifully evoked, and details about the lives of the townspeople make the post-American Revolutionary atmosphere feel fully lived-in.

Wednesday Evening Book Group meets at 5:45 PM

5/1/24    The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

This is a tale of strife and love set in Chicken Hill, a hardscrabble section of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, that is home to African Americans who fled racial violence in the Deep South and Jews who escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe. Lovely and righteous Chona, left disabled while Moshe, her adoring, jazz-fan husband, runs a theater, becoming the first manager around to welcome both whites and Blacks. Nate, an African American, is his trusted assistant; Addie, Nate’s wife, is close to Chona, and their neighbors are vibrant, complicated individuals, each improvising ways to get by, ultimately joining forces to try to keep the authorities from taking Dodo, a smart, sweet, Black, orphaned deaf boy, to the hellish state asylum. The timbre of Jewish and Black lives of the times are incisively evoked, while spinning intriguing backstories and choreographing telling struggles over running water, class divides, and prejudice of all kinds. This funny, tender, knockabout, gritty, suspenseful,  socially critiquing, and empathic novel dynamically celebrates difference, kindness, ingenuity, and the force that compels us to move heaven and earth to help each other.

6/5/24    Someone Else’s Shoes by JoJo Moyes

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?  Nisha Cantor lives the globetrotting life of the seriously wealthy, until her husband announces a divorce and cuts her off. Nisha is determined to hang onto her glamorous life. But in the meantime, she must scramble to cope–she doesn’t even have the shoes she was, until a moment ago, standing in.

That’s because Sam Kemp – in the bleakest point of her life – has accidentally taken Nisha’s gym bag. Sam hardly has time to worry about a lost gym bag–she’s struggling to keep herself and her family afloat. When she tries on Nisha’s six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes, the resulting jolt of confidence that makes her realize something must change–and that thing is herself.

Avalon Book Group meets at 2 PM

5/6/24    Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Paul

After years of living a reclusive life, iconic actress Kitty Karr dies, leaving her estate to the St. John sisters, the daughters of her former sitcom costar. As it turns out, the connection between the two families runs deep, back to Jim Crow-era North Carolina. Growing up, biracial Mary Magdalene is encouraged to experiment with passing for white. When Mary graduates from high school, her mother gives her a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and a new life as a white woman. Mary–renamed Kitty Karr–secures a job at a movie studio, and her talent and intelligence catapult her career. Kitty learns that there’s a community of women in Hollywood who are not only passing but using their newfound white privilege to support Black Americans. But passing for white is fraught with danger during an era of segregation, and Kitty is forced to give up her beloved daughter, who is born with dark skin.


Monday Afternoon Book Group meets at 2:30 PM

4/8/24      Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977 and set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction are followed. In every generation, at least one person dies by drowning; in Kerala, water is everywhere. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala’s long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl–and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi–will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.

5/13/24    Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug. Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. The search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars. At the same time, she grows concerned with an investigation that seems more focused on punishing the offenders than protecting the victims. Now, as the deceptions–and deaths–keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

6/10/24    Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son Erik mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.  Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova. Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared and must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.