Exploring Fiction in the SDHC Lending Library

A group of readers discuss reading and writing with 2017 Festival author Alison McGhee. A fiction writer, McGhee's novel "Shadow Baby" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize

Seeing the World through Imaginary Lenses: Fiction

By Ashley Kosters
SDHC Intern

Editor's Note: This is the first of a five-part series highlighting selections from the South Dakota Humanities Council Lending Library, which features books in a variety of genres for book clubs and other groups. 

Whether you are in a book club or looking to start one, the South Dakota Humanities Council Reading Group Toolkit has the resources for your group to have an engaging experience – including numerous fiction titles.
Reading fiction provides a means to understand the world from a different point of view or to imagine unfamiliar situations and characters.

"By supporting the creation and amplification of stories, we create time machines that allow future generations to understand our era better. Don't believe me? Whenever I open a book by Charles Dickens, I float out of my body and I live, however temporarily, in London during the 1850s." – Patrick Hicks, South Dakota author and frequent Festival of Books presenter.

"Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real." – Nora Ephron (screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle)

Through the SDHC's Reading Group Toolkit, your book club can explore the works of your favorite authors or seek new authors within the fiction genre. The fiction titles available through the SDHC's lending library include a wide variety of subcategories, such as historical fiction, science fiction, romance, thriller, coming-of-age stories, and so much more.

Fiction Title Spotlight: 'The Thief and the Dogs' by Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz's haunting novella of post-revolutionary Egypt combines a vivid psychological portrait of an anguished man with the suspense and rapid pace of a detective story.

After four years in prison, the skilled young thief Said Mahran emerges bent on revenge. He finds a world that has changed in more ways than one. Egypt has undergone a revolution and, on a more personal level, his beloved wife and his trusted henchman, who conspired to betray him to the police, are now married to each other and are keeping his six-year-old daughter from him.

But in the most bitter betrayal, his mentor, Rauf Ilwan, once a firebrand revolutionary who convinced Said that stealing from the rich in an unjust society is an act of justice, is now himself a rich man, a respected newspaper editor who wants nothing to do with the disgraced Said. As Said's wild attempt to achieve his idea of justice badly misfires, he becomes a hunted man so driven by hatred that he can only recognize too late his last chance at redemption.

Additional Fiction Titles in the Lending Library:

  • "My Antonia" by Willa Cather
  • "The Art of Mending" by Elizabeth Berg
  • "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
  • "Giants in the Earth" by O.E. Rolvaag
  • "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson
  • "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal
  • "The Land They Possessed" by Mary Worthy Breneman
  • "Leo Africanus" by Amin Maalouf
  • "The Long-Shining Waters" by Danielle Sosin
  • "March" by Geraldine Brooks
  • "The Master Butchers Singing Club" by Louise Erdrich
  • "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • "Open Range" by Lauran Paine
  • "Ordinary Grace" by William Kent Krueger
  • "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger
  • "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd
  • "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse
  • "Some Luck" by Jane Smiley
  • "The Thief and the Dogs" by Naguib Mahfouz
  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
  • "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes
  • "The Whistling Season" by Ivan Doig
  • "The Work of Wolves" by Kent Meyers

Browse our Lending Library

With a diverse selection of literature, the South Dakota Humanities Council offers a packaged reading program for book clubs or other interested groups. Whether the events are organized by individuals or by organizations, the Reading Group Toolkit program provides up to 30 copies of any title from the council's lending library and an SDHC scholar, if desired, to lead a book discussion. For a $50 application fee, the group gains access to any of our 70-plus titles.

For more information on the application and requirements and to browse our library, click below.