Books: Staff Picks

"Everything from the outrageous to the sublime!"

  • Books for cozy evenings and rainy days.
  • Books filled with true tales of history, mystery, and romance.
  • Advice, hobby, and do-it-yourself books.
  • Books that challenge, inspire, and surprise.

Let our Adult Services staff direct you to a variety of books sure to capture your interest and imagination.


  • This is a list of some of the books that are scheduled to be released as movies in 2014. Some of the release dates (in parentheses) will most likely change and some are still to be announced (TBA). Additionally, I would guess some will not even make it to AMC or IU Cinema (but some should be on home video before the end of the year). Click on the date for more information about the film. I have included some actors’ names in the character descriptions for those that might be piqued to read the book because of them, but if that might bother your sense of imagining the characters on your own, just click on the title and read the “More information” in the library catalog for details.

     

  • Celebrate St. Patricks day by reading a good book about the Emerald Isles.

  • There are many people who enjoy a good mystery. There are also many people who love to travel around the United States. These stories have the best of both. Travel the world around with a good mystery.

  • Pirates and life on the high seas have long been the stuff of romance and swashbuckling adventures. Lately, pirates have returned to the news with their brazen attacks off the coasts of Africa and Europe. Join us for this look at pirates -- in both fact and fiction.

  • What if it had happened differently?  What would it be like?  What would be the different ... the Same?

  • What is the human body capable of if pushed further than what most believe possible?  The following books all show remarkable individuals who can run, swim, climb, or play faster and farther than most.

  • The bloodiest of American wars occurred over a century and a half ago, and it profoundly changed our country. These novels tell the stories of brothers pitted against brothers, and friends against friends. Gathered here are soldiers' stories, as well as those of wives, children, the old and other civilians--everyone whose life was uprooted by the war.

  • Indiana played an important role in the War Between the States. Discover how the Civil War changed and affected the lives of the people of our state through their personal letters, a history of Indiana camps, and travelogues.

  • The history of America includes immigration stories from all over the world. People came in waves from many countries including: Africa, China, Russia, Ireland, and Mexico among other places. While many immigrants came as free people seeking new beginnings and opportunities in life, others came as indentured servants or slaves. These books examine a vibrant but often neglected aspect of our history.

  • Enjoy these biographies of well-known and not so well known people from the founding of our country.

  • Animals offer us a touch of wildness and a connection to our planet as one living whole. As Anatole France said, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

  • Over the past few years unusual meteorological events have shown us the impact that weather can have on the world around us. "Hundred-year storms" cause floods too often and send waves crashing through our cities. Snow and ice immobilize some places while destructive winds tear apart buildings. This list highlights storms that have changed history while sending us scurrying for shelter.

  • In the 20th century, fiction came into its own with the blossoming of the novel as a popular form.  Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner shared their individual views of a rapidly changing world. Voted as the best books of the 20th Century, these novels were selected by both publishers and readers. Try some and discover really fine literature that endures.

  • Tired of hearing news stories that just skim the surface and ignore the deeper issues? Check out these new nonfiction titles examining a host of current issues, from environmental concerns to drones, the health industry to feminism in the 21st century and beyond. Written in an accessible, narrative style that doesn't skimp on facts while not getting bogged down in jargon or statistics, these books are great for those looking for a more comprehensive understanding of the issues that compel us today.

  • Inhospitable! Lonely! Desolate! These are words that often come to mind when we think of the cold places of the world. These cold places however, have been an important part of human history and they have often tested those who lived in them. This list features titles that remind us that cold places have done more than make us shiver.

  • Mahatma Gandhi and Florence Nightingale noticed huge problems that seemed to have no solutions. Yet, they devoted their lives to making incremental changes that eventually encouraged more people to follow them and use techniques that they pioneered.  What these "world-changers" have in common is a belief that each of us can make a difference in the world.

  • The following books are all Christmas themed novels that will warm your heart and lift your spirit.  Immerse yourself into a heartwarming story that will surely get you into a yuletide mood.

  • "Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.

    "A morally and civically responsible individual recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate."

    from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich

  • Mad scientists, vampires, a bizarre baby, medical students gone amuck, these classic novels have frightened people for decades. Lock your windows and doors. Sit back and relax, but keep your phone handy while reading these scary tales. Hey, what's making that screeching noise?

  • Books with quilts in them.

  • Many of us have a love hate relationship with computers. In many ways they make our lives easier, yet in other ways they almost seem too invasive and are often frustrating.  Here are cautionary stories about computers and/or their programmers that have gone just a bit too far.

  • So, you don't think you have the time for a good story? Sure you do. Not every great story is a novel. Enjoy these collections of short stories ... reading in small bites.

  • Often taboo, sometimes enticing, rarely boring, explore the world of erotic fiction.

  • Excited about the television series Downton Abbey?  Want to learn more about that small country across the pond where people almost speak our language? This sampling of contemporary novels includes work by some of the best British novelists working today.

  • One way to take your reading in new directions is by exploring first novels. Some novelists begin their career with a whimper; others, with a bang. Check out this list of famous debuts: Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Hobbit, The Martian Chronicles, Black Beauty, To Kill a Mockingbird, and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to name just a few. You can find many sources for debut novels online. Try Amazon, Goodreads, and Novelist. Several magazines—Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Bookmarks--highlight books by first-time authors too. Or browse the shelves, discover wonderful cover art, and then dive into the first chapter and discover for yourself a totally unique voice about to shine light upon the world.

  • "Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." Albert Camus describes in these words what friends do best, accompany us through the travels and travails of life.

  • From cookbooks to histories about Thanksgiving to novels centered around the holiday there is a book for any aspect of Thanksgiving that interests readers.

  • Just starting out reading graphic novels? Here are some titles you might enjoy.

  • Once comic books were thought to be "just for kids;" today they are full of wonderful art and contain stories that rival even the best novels. Try some of these well-designed books that develop plots and build characters through both pictures and text.

  • Green fiction is a relatively new genre that celebrates the natural world. It's also called eco-fiction and includes many books centered on nature or in which environmental themes are paramount. If you love hiking or biking through the country side, take along one of these books that explores the magic of woodland and cave or examines our role as stewards of it.

  • The books in this list celebrate people who have started life in poverty and survived the odds to become leaders and examples to many around them. Our early life situations should not make us despair of success. For as Martha Graham said, "Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men."

  • How are battles fought in the future?  Explore worlds where genetically enhanced soldiers fight in hi-tech battle armor while massive fleets of spaceships battle for supremacy above them.  Action packed and often thought provoking, these novels will definitely keep you reading late into the night.

  • In the 20s and 30s, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler pioneered the clever, tough-talking, detective who was not afraid to face violence and never got too distracted by a pretty face. The term comes from hard-boiled eggs that are tough and hard to destroy. Don your trench coat and wide-brimmed hat and follow some very interesting cases to the end.   

  • Some writers pave the route to a novel's end with so many clues that you'd have to quit reading at page fifteen not to guess the conclusion. These books employ a literary kind of "smoke and mirrors" to keep you off-course and guessing what will happen.  They offer twists that you can't predict and take you to a different place than you were expecting. And keep you guessing up to the end.

  • This series by George R.R. Martin is being adapted to the small screen by HBO. But don't suffer withdrawal pangs after you've read the books or watched the series. Instead get acquainted with other intriguing fantasy series. They make great reading especially after you've tackled their better-known cousins.

  • From its beginnings poetry has celebrated nature: everything from trees to gardens to mountains to the endless changing seas. Kentucky poet and ecologist Wendell Berry called nature poetry "a secular pilgrimage" and Wordsworth said, "There are spirits in the woods." Enjoy these collections of contemporary nature poems.

  • Whether you're traveling a few miles or embarking on a trip around the world travel is almost always an adventure. This list features humorous, insightful and inspiring stories about international travel. Let it be your passport for many adventures.

  • Who hasn't dreamed or retreating to a small island where fish leap out of turquoise waters and coconuts fall from the trees? In these novels explore one of the verdant ones off the coast of Indian, Ceylon, or South Carolina.  With one of these books in tow, board a sailboat and explore Paradise on your own.

  • "Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." Anna Quindlen spoke about the importance of books in How Reading Changed My Life. Being lucky enough to work everyday in a place full of books, librarians come across a wide assortment of the new, the odd, the classic, and the utterly fascinating. Here's a list of titles that our staff recommended for their favorite books of 2012. It features fiction, fantasy, mysteries, nonfiction and young adult.

  • Celebrate Valentine's Day by reading a steamy new romance novel.

  • Maker culture is all about taking the do-it-yourself attitude and adding technology. Check out these titles at the Library for maker projects from wearable fashion to robotics; Arduino ideas to salvaging parts from junk electronics; and even Twitter-monitoring Christmas trees!

  • Looking for a more film-like approach to the novel? Tired of one character telling his or her story in chronological sequence? For a more symphonic approach, try these books that offer a many-character, storytelling approach.

  • These novels, which include everything from murder mysteries to historical fiction, imagine the lives of Native Americans, both past and present. If you find an author you especially enjoy many have written numerous other titles about Native Americans.

  • "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach..." Thoreau penned these words in his classic Walden. Since then many authors have celebrated the natural world. Here are a few more to discover or to savor again.

  • These books aren't just for people who have a disability, they are for their friends and relatives, as well as anyone interested in learning about the experience of living with a disability. This list includes titles dealing with a number of different types of disabilities and range from memiors and poems written by people with disabilies to practical guides about living with a disability.

  • In the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft and the prolific Stephen King, horror comes in many shapes and guises. If you're the type who screams loudly at horror films whenever the music changes or a green alien dives from the sky, you may not be an ideal candidate for these titles. But if you enjoy terrifying yourself, read these books that are "not for the faint of heart."

  • See what other library patrons are reading this Summer and what they thought about the books they chose.  You can tell us about what you read and enter to win prizes by filling out our Summer Reading entry form.

  • Want to rediscover poets from your youth? Or find some contemporary poets that speak just to you? These anthologies let you explore modern poetry. You can choose by poet, subject, or time period. Enjoy these poems that make language new again.

  • These novels focus on the end of the world as we know it by describing how survivors adapt after horrible events kill millions. For it's not mere survival that counts. Choose your dessert or your poison--some of these novels uplift, others horrify, but you will definitely forget about your everyday problems while reading them.

  • Fantasy is a broad category of fiction (for me it includes all science-fiction). Many new readers have come to the genre with its recent resurgence in Young Adult literature and the growing popularity of the Game of Thrones television series (based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books). And, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings saga are among the best-selling books of all-time. While there are plenty of types of fantasy (whether it be early English verse like Sir Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen or John Milton's Paradise Lost; children's stories like J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan or Lewis Carroll's Alice and Wonderland; or breakthrough sci-fi classics by authors like Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, or Philip K. Dick), this list focuses exclusively on "pulp fantasy". The term 'pulp' comes from the inexpensive wood pulp that was used to create the paper to originally publish the stories. While the tales were often considered as cheap as the paper they were published on, in the early parts of the 20th century, they are among the first of their kind to imagine what appears commonplace today.

  • See the world through these books by authors from various countries.

  • Through science we discover how the world ticks, not just the world but the universe. Scientists systematically study nature and the physical and material world. They explore unusual animals (Komodo dragons and gyrfalcons) and everyday ones (dogs and cats) as well as dramatic astronomical and geological events. This year saw three major volcanoes erupt: in Hawaii, Iceland, and Japan. These books will perk your interest in an amazing field.

  • Looking for a scary story? Try the short version. Less words; more potential scares per sentence.
    Those of us drawn to Horror as a genre tend to revel in its usually dark atmospheric setting, visceral tone, otherwordly characters, and its prevailing thrill of the Unknown.
    Some would say that our culture's increasing predilection for fantasy, and specifically its craving for Horror, is a way to sublimate our ever-present real world anxiety. In other words, fearing the Unknown in stories is safer than truly admitting our perpetual fear of the actual unknown all around us.

    Boo.

  • It seems to be human nature to just be focused on events that take place during your lifetime.  So it can come as a shock to find out your family had lives, secrets and happenings from the time before you were born.  The following titles illustrate how these secrets can cause heartbreak or give closure to those who discover them.  For more books check the MCPL online catalog using the search terms: Subject - Family secrets-Fiction.

  • Welcome to the world of dirigible fleets and clockwork dragons, of brass goggles and wizards in top hats and frock coats. Through these fantasy novels, explore the world before electricity became universal when steam power made the world go round.

  • Human history is often the story of change, growth and response to external forces and the desire to tame them. Whether you view these events in a positive or negative light, you can't deny that man has left his mark on the world around him. Join us in examining human history in terms of the cities, rivers, homes and places that helped shape us.

  • Do you need some new ideas for summertime chow? Is it too hot to cook but you still want to eat? Check out these books on home-made ice cream, picnicking, grilling and lighter fare for the hot hot Indiana weather.

  • Books, like life itself, do not always portray a happy-go-lucky world view. This collection of novels and memoirs covers items that portray life realistically: the good times balanced by bad, happiness followed or proceded by sorrow. Because they go to the heart of human experience, they will reward you. Reminder: keep Kleenex handy.

  • Try these novels when you need some inspiration to get yourself outside to the beach, the desert, the woods or a park.  All are suspenseful and have a strong sense of place -- the outdoors and the natural world.  These choices are all the first of a series, so if you like the first one you will have many more to choose from.

  • In the mood for a fast paced book that pulls you in and won’t let you go? Thrillers are action driven stories told at breakneck speed, with sympathetic heroes and deadly villains. If you enjoy authors like Lee Child, David Baldacci or Robert Ludlum then try one of these thrillers.

  • The will to survive can push humans beyond the limits of what seems possible. All of these books tell the true stories of people in seemingly insurmountable circumstances, and yet they survived. From Antarctica to the Amazon, from the ocean to unimaginably deep caves enjoy these thrilling stories of those who survived against all odds.

  • Why not experiment with a different kind of garden this year? How about planting a tea garden? Why not attract bugs? They can be beneficial. Try planting a hellstrip garden. Don't know what that is? Check out the book on this list. Or after spending the afternoon in your garden settle down with one of the gardening memoirs listed here.

  • Urban fiction is a literary genre set in a city landscape; however the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is somewhat dark, focusing on the underside of city living. Here is a short list of some of the library's hottest urban fiction.

  • Wendell Berry's novels are character driven stories that examine, at a leisurely pace, the joys and sorrows of small town and rural life. All have a strong sense of place, evoking thoughts of one's past home and former neighbors.