Discussion Groups

Discussion groups at The Mercantile Library focus on a wide variety of subjects, and are led by Library members. Groups typically meet in the 12th Story Lecture Hall. Seating is limited, and reservations are required.
To register for ANY of the sessions listed below, email HERE OR call 513-621-0717.


Find more on the 2017-18 Season HERE

One of the Library’s longest-running discussion groups—the Canon Club—recently accomplished the laudable task of reading Shakespeare’s complete dramatic works. Joining each discussion are members of The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.


The Walnut Street Poetry Society was founded in 2004 and is devoted to the reading and study of poetry. For more, visit HERE.


First Wednesday Book Discussions

visit HERE

Reservations required: 513.621.0717 or email: reservations@mercantilelibrary.com




Thursdays 6 – 7:30 pm

January 18, February 15, March 15, April 12

In its 13th season, Literary Journeys is our discussion series with an international theme, led by Anthony Covatta. Covatta taught English at Columbia University and Skidmore College. He has focused his interest in the literature of foreign countries ever since he started practicing law in Cincinnati in 1979. He is an attorney at Frost Brown Todd.

Spring, 2018 Literary Journey to the Center of the Self 

From Tony: I’ve never seen Fantastic Voyage  or read Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. And its years since I saw the 1959 movie of the Verne classic,  starring James Mason, Pat Boone, and Arlene Dahl.  This year our journey is inward as well as outward.  I can’t help thinking of these works as I prepare for our trip into  four quite different  novels that  are  related in a number of ways. Each one takes ordinary people into fantastically trying sometimes fatal  environments far beyond what they are used to.   Against overwhelming odds they discover something of who they are and what they can become.  There must be some kismet here,  because as I write this I remember that Jules Verne’s Journey starts in a volcano in Iceland.  Our last novel, Heaven and Hell is set in Iceland, home of volcanos, and during the course we will be discussing another wonderful cult film,  Joe vs. the Volcano (the title says it all) starring a very young and charming Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

January 18: Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Germany)—A working class couple in WW II Berlin fight the Hitler regime when they suffer an overwhelming personal loss.
February 15: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (England)—An adolescent boy has to combat his own physical maladies as his parents’ marriage disintegrates.
March 15: The Breaking of a Wave by Fabio Genovesi (Italy)—A woman has to learn to deal with the loss of her son.
April 12: Heaven and Hell by Jan Kallman Stefansson (Iceland)—A young fisherman confronts the death of a friend and the cruel Icelandic winter at the same time.
Series subscription $30 members/$40 non members
Individual sessions $10 members/$15 non members



Year One: Wednesdays 6 – 7:30 pm

February 21, April 25, June 20, August 29, October 24, December 12

President of the United States is arguably the most powerful and difficult position in the world. This new multi-year series examines one-by-one, in order, the individuals who have occupied the office since 1789. In doing so, participants will learn about each President and the power of the Presidency. Year One, led by Brendon Cull, begins with George Washington and ends with John Quincy Adams. Come to one or more, or challenge yourself to join us for all as we work our way through American History over the next several years.
February 21: His Excellency: George Washington, by Joseph Ellis
April 25: John Adams, by David McCullough
June 20: Thomas Jefferson, by Jon Meacham
August 29: The Three Lives of James Madison, by Noah Feldman
October 24: The Last Founding Father, by Harlow Giles Unger
December 12: John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit, by James Traub
Mercantile Library Board member Brendon Cull is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. He lives in Clifton with his wife and two daughters.
Series subscription: $55 members/$65 non members
Individual sessions: $10 members/$15 non members

New American Literature with Hillary Copsey


March 23, April 27, May 18, June 15

Chances are good that the required reading list from your high school American literature course needs to be updated. Over four months, read books of four modern American authors alongside the classic works that inspired them. This updated reading list will consider the wide variety of American stories and experiences.

March 23: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward accompanied by selected work from William Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston
April 27: Redployment by Phil Klay accompanied by selections from The Red Badge of Courage, The Things They Carried
May 18: Lila by Marilynne Robinson accompanied by selected work from Walt Whitman and Willa Cather
June 15: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan accompanied by selected work from Edith Wharton

Hillary Copsey founded Make America Read, a newsletter that encourages people to read more and more widely to build compassion, critical thinking and civil discourse. She is a freelance writer, editor and consultant living in Norwood, trying to raise two boys to be readers and decent human beings.

Series subscription $30 members/$40 non members • Individual sessions $10 members/$15 non members