Books Plus - Books We've Discussed

This list includes titles we've featured in past Books Plus group discussions. 

Compiled by:
Paula G.
Little Songs:  Exploring the Sonnet

April 7, 2013

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

For over five hundred years, poets have written enduring sonnets about love, friendship, death, and nature. In only fourteen lines, authors have shared their views of the world. From Shakespeare and Petrarch to modern poets such as Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Carol Ann Duffy, the sonnet has continued to amaze and inspire. In honor of National Poetry Month please come explore the kind of poem that Dante Gabriel Rossetti called the "moment's monument." If you don't like the tight rhyming structure of the old sonnets, we will include some contemporary ones in modern language. Please bring a poem to share—a favorite of yours—either a sonnet or one in another format that you love.

Forgotten Garden

May 5, 2013

Kate Morton
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

From 1913 to today, from England to Australia and back again, generations of a family keep their secrets guarded and their gardens locked.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

June 2, 2013

Cheryl Strayed
Discussion Leader: Sarah Bowman

"Smart, funny, and often sublime, Wild has something for everyone - a fight for survival in the wilderness, a bad girl's quest for redemption - all in the hands of a brilliant and evocative writer." - Chelsea Cain

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

July 7, 2013

Rachel Joyce
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"A novel of deep beauty and wisdom about the human condition; Harold, a deeply sympathetic protagonist, has much to teach us. A great novel; essential reading for fans of literary fiction." - Library Journal

These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901

August 4, 2013

Nancy Turner
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Using her ancestress' memoirs, Turner paints a vivid picture of homesteading in the Arizona Territories and how Sarah had to learn to cope with hardship.

Sweet Tooth

September 8, 2013

Ian McEwan
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"Serena Frome is a smart, attractive, Cambridge-educated young woman who is recruited by her older lover for the MI5 intelligence agency. Spydom is, of course, fraught with betrayal, and Serena is not immune to that common pitfall. McEwan readers can rest assured that, in common with its predecessors, this novel has a greatly compelling story line braced by the author’s formidable wisdom about—well, the world.." - BookList

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

October 6, 2013

Ransom Riggs
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

"Riggs's atmospheric first novel concerns 16-year-old Jacob, a tightly wound but otherwise ordinary teenager who is 'unusually susceptible to nightmares, night terrors, the Creeps, the Willies, and Seeing Things That Aren't Really There.' When Jacob's grandfather, Abe, a WWII veteran, is savagely murdered, Jacob has a nervous breakdown, in part because he believes that his grandfather was killed by a monster that only they could see. Nearly 50 unsettling vintage photographs appear throughout, forming the framework of this dark but empowering tale. It's an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters." - Publisher's Weekly

The Last Chinese Chef

November 3, 2013

Nicole Mones
Discussion Leader; Sarah Bowman

Join us to discuss Nicole Mones' most recent book, The Last Chinese Chef, before she comes to Bloomington to speak at the Buskirk Chumley theater as part of the Friends of the Library's free author event - Culture and the Power of Words on Saturday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

February 2, 2014

Ayana Mathis
Discussion Leader: Sarah Bowman

"Stunning. . . . Mathis writes with blazing insight into the complexities of sexuality, marriage, family relationships, backbone, fraudulence, and racism in a molten novel of lives racked with suffering yet suffused with beauty."—Booklist

Gone Girl

March 2, 2014

Gillian Flynn
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

"Gillian Flynn's third novel is both breakneck-paced thriller and masterful dissection of marital breakdown...wickedly plotted and surprisingly thoughtful, this is a terrifically good read." - Boston Globe

Embrace the New:  21st Century Poetry

April 6, 2014

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

Discover what's new in the world of poetry. We'll look at current trends, how the Internet has popularized and changed poetry, and what forms are currently hot in American poetry. Also, we’ll share a list of new poets to discover and old favorites who are still composing excellent work. Bring a poem to share that you have recently discovered.

The Woman Upstairs

May 4, 2014

Claire Messud
Discussion Leader: Ryan Stacy

"Basically, Nora is furious with herself: for failing to commit to being an artist, for settling for life as a third-grade teacher in Cambridge, Mass., for lacking the guts even to be openly enraged[…] Messud persuasively plunges us into the tortured psyche of a conflicted soul whose defiant closing assertion inspires little confidence that Nora can actually change her ways. Brilliant and terrifying." - Kirkus

Life After Life

June 1, 2014

Kate Atkinson
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers."

A Place in Time

July 13, 2014

Wendell Berry
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Meet the Port William, Kentucky membership. A Place in Time collects stories of the residents of the imaginary town of Port William, from 1864 to 1991. All the major families are represented, the Catletts, the Coulters and the Branches. If you are new to Port William, you will meet some unforgettable characters, if you are an old acquaintance, then renew your friendship through these stories.

Bleeding Edge

August 3, 2014

Thomas Pynchon
Discussion Leader: Ryan Stacy

Set in the spring before 9/11, Bleeding Edge follows Maxine Tarnow, an “unflappable, wise-cracking, Beretta-toting, and Jewish” fraud investigator and Manhattan mother, on a dizzying and sprawling case.

The Light Between Oceans

September 7, 2014

M. L. Stedman
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"The miraculous arrival of a child in the life of a barren couple delivers profound love but also the seeds of destruction. Moral dilemmas don’t come more exquisite than the one around which Australian novelist Stedman constructs her debut." - Kirkus Reviews

Under the Volcano

October 5, 2014

Malcolm Lowry
Discussion Leader: Ryan Stacy

"Lowry wanted to produce not just a novel but a cosmos-surfing, cosmos-swallowing book of books.  Under the Volcano takes place in a demi-Joycean 12 hours, on the feast of the Day of the Dead in Mexico." -- Stephen Metcalf, The New York Times

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

November 2, 2014

Amy Hill Hearth
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Naples, Florida in 1962 was mostly a backwater without a lot of connection to national events.  Into this small, conservative town comes Jackie Hart, budding feminist, dissatisfied housewife and former boston resident.  After gathering an eclectic group of town misfits for a book club, Jackie begins shaking up the town's old Southern ideas.
"...a rollicking, provocative tale about how reading and meeting others who are different can be the most subversive of acts." -- Ruth Pennebaker, author of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Claire of the Sea Light

February 1, 2015

Edwidge Danticat
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“There is something fable like about these tales; the reader is made acutely aware of the patterns of loss and redemption, cruelty and vengeance that thread their way through these characters' lives, and the roles that luck and choice play in shaping their fate…Writing with lyrical economy and precision, Ms. Danticat recounts her characters' stories in crystalline prose that underscores the parallels in their lives.”  --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love

March 8, 2015

Joan Medlicott
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Three female friends of a certain age, decide to risk it all and move from their comfortable but stifling gold age home in Pennsylvania to an inherited farm in North Carolina. Once they get past the decision of which of them is able to drive that far, nothing can stop them. We will borrow a bag of eight books from the Indiana Humanities Council Novel Conversations program. We will have these available at our Feb. Books Plus meeting. Any extra will be available later at the reference desk upon request.

Short Poems:  The World in a Few Lines

April 12, 2015

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

One of the wonders of poetry is that you can encapsulate the whole world in just a few lines. Because poetry started out as an oral traditions, short poems have been written for thousands of years. Help us celebrate National Poetry Month with a program on short forms. These include haiku, acrostics, limericks, cinquains, tanka and concrete poetry. Please bring a short poem or two to share.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

May 3, 2015

Gabrielle Zevin
Discussion Leader: Wendy Rubin

“Zevin has written a near-perfect novel. Punctuated by explicit references to classic short stories, implicit literary references, self-deprecating swipes at literary snobs…with humor and flawless characterization, it fills all the bills in straightforward, no-frills prose.”-- Donna Chavez

The Invention of Wings

June 7, 2015

Sue Monk Kidd
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"This compelling work of historical fiction stands out from the rest because of its layers of imaginative detail of the lives of actual abolitionists… This richly imagined narrative brings both black history and women’s history to life.” —Library Journal, starred review


September 13, 2015

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch
Series: Book 1 and Book 2

On September 21 civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), co-writer Andrew Aydin, and local artist Nate Powell will discuss their groundbreaking graphic novel series, March, an engaging and award-winning first-hand account of Lewis’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Join us for a book talk about these two graphic novels in advance of the Power of Words author talk.

Jane Eyre

October 4, 2015

Charlotte Bronte
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“I love that Jane Eyre is an unconventional heroine. She is not beautiful, but instead is rather plain looking. She is an underdog who the reader roots for through the entire novel. I love that Jane Eyre overcomes her troubled, impoverished past. I love that Jane Eyre does the right thing for herself. She is the epitome of a strong woman.” --Zoë Triska

The Girl on the Train

November 1, 2015

Paula Hawkins
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“It’s not just the twists and turns in this complex who-dunnit that keep the pages turning; it’s the slow realization that no one, and certainly no relationship, is as simple as it first appears. Written with consummate skill and understanding, the plot never flags.” –Sue Leonard

A Lesson Before Dying

February 7, 2016

Ernest Gaines
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"In this restrained but eloquent narrative, the author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman again addresses some of the major issues of race and identity in our time. The story of two African American men struggling to attain manhood in a prejudiced society, the tale is set in Bayonne, La.... May be Gaines' crowning achievement." -- Publishers Weekly


Deep Down Dark

March 6, 2016

Héctor Tobar
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Tobar plunges the reader into this world of uncertainty with visceral, present-tense prose and careful pacing . . . Whether the story is completely new to you, or if you were one of the millions glued to the news reports and wondering, will they make it—physically, emotionally, spiritually—you’ll be greatly rewarded to learn how they did.” —Mac McClelland, The New York Times Book Review

Bear, Foxes, Jackals, Crows: Poems about Animals

April 3, 2016

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

For centuries poets have been praising, blaming, and honoring the myriad creatures we share the planet with. Come share a favorite poem or two that you have discovered about our non-human friends.


May 1, 2016

Lily King
Discussion Leader: Mickey Needham

“Set between the First and Second World Wars, the story is loosely based on events in the life of Margaret Mead. There are fascinating looks into other cultures and how they are studied, and the sacrifices and dangers that go along with it. This is a powerful story, at once gritty, sensuous, and captivating.”—Booklist

The Lightkeepers

June 5, 2016

Abby Geni
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Abby Geni’s debut novel The Lightkeepers is as wild as the landscape it describes: a nature photographer embarks on a one-year residency in an isolated, dangerous archipelago of islands off the Californian coast, only to encounter violence and a set of companions she cannot trust. Mysterious, vivid, and original, The Lightkeepers will quickly ensnare readers in its cruelly beautiful world.”—Buzzfeed

The Flying Circus

July 10, 2016

Susan Crandall
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

"An exhilarating, memorable flight into the world of barnstorming in the 1920's, with all the twists and turns of an aerial acrobat. Compelling characters and a fascinating setting make this journey a sheer joyride. Satisfying and delightful!"—Lynn Cullen

H is for Hawk

August 7, 2016

Helen Macdonald
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

“If birds are made of air, as the nature writer Sy Montgomery says, then writing a great bird book is a little like dusting for the fingerprints of a ghost. It calls for poetry and science, conjuring and evidence. In her breathtaking new book, H Is for Hawk…Helen Macdonald renders an indelible impression of a raptor's fierce essence—and her own…”—Vicki Constantine Croke, New York Times Book Review

Our Souls at Night

September 11, 2016

Kent Haruf
Discussion Leader: Wendy Rubin

“Acclaimed novelist Haruf captures small-town life to perfection in his signature spare style.... Poignant and eloquent, this novel resonates beyond the pages. Don't miss this exceptional work from a literary voice now stilled.”—Donna Bettencourt, Library Journal

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

October 2, 2016

Erik Larson
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“A riveting account of one of the most tragic events of WWI.... Larson crafts the story as historical suspense by weaving information about the war and the development of submarine technology with an interesting cast of characters.... By the end, we care about the individual passengers we’ve come to know.”—Publishers Weekly


November 6, 2016

Louise Erdrich
Discussion Leader: Mickey Needham

After accidentally shooting his friend and neighbor's young son, a man on a Native American reservation subscribes to "an old form of justice" by giving his own son, LaRose, to the parents of his victim.... [A] Meditative, profoundly humane story... this novel is...about the emotions men need, but rarely get, from one another.   --Kirkus Reviews 

December 4, 2016

Celebrate books and reading at our annual holiday tea.  Recommended book lists will be handed out, including our popular Staff Favorite Reads of the Year list.

Another Brooklyn

February 5, 2017

Jacqueline Woodson
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“In her first adult novel in 20 years, acclaimed children’s and YA author Woodson (winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming)combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s.” --Publishers Weekly

A Man Called Ove

March 5, 2017

Fredrik Backman
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

“This charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers… hysterically funny… wry descriptions, excellent pacing… In the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden, generous heart.” – Kirkus Reviews

Poems on Family and Culture

April 2, 2017

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll explore poems about family and culture, both of which ground us emotionally and physically to this world.  Please bring a poem on one of these topics that has inspired you to share with the group.

The Underground Railroad

May 7, 2017

Colson Whitehead
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"A potent, almost hallucinatory novel…Whitehead has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present.”  The New York Times

The Wives of Los Alamos

June 4, 2017

TaraShea Nesbit
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Quietly revealing, The Wives of Los Alamos offers an unusual glimpse into a singular community where war, science, and home life collided.”  Boston Globe

The Handmaid's Tale

July 2, 2017

Margaret Atwood
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Atwood takes many trends which exist today and stretches them to their logical and chilling conclusions.... An excellent novel about the directions our lives are taking. Read it while it's still allowed!”   Houston Chronicle

Remarkable Creatures

August 6, 2017

Tracy Chevalier
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Remarkable Creatures is a stunning historical novel that follows the story of two extraordinary 19th century fossil hunters who changed the scientific world forever.

The Nightingale

September 10, 2017

Kristin Hannah
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation…. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling." Christina Kline Baker


October 1, 2017

Alice Hoffman
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

“This is a luminous book that sucks you in, starting with a terrible loss and a nearly terminal case of survivor’s guilt. High-schooler Shelby Richmond is driving with her best friend, Helene, when their car hits a patch of ice and both girls are nearly killed.” Seattle Times

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

November 5, 2017

Jamie Ford
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived.” Library Journal   

December 10, 2017

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

Join us for our annual Holiday Tea. The Friends of the Library will provide delicious snacks. We will hand out lists of recommended books of 2017, including our popular staff favorites. Please bring a couple of titles that really impressed you this year to share with the group.


February 4, 2018

Yaa Gyasi
Led by Dory Lynch

"The unhealed ruptures of slavery, persistent as memory and rubbed raw in such an instant, course through ‘Homegoing,’ the hypnotic debut novel by Yaa Gyasi, a stirringly gifted young writer, that contemplates the consequences of human trafficking on both sides of the Atlantic." The New York Times

Everything I Never Told You

March 4, 2018

Celeste Ng
Led by Dory Lynch

”What emerges is a deep, heartfelt portrait of a family struggling with its place in history, and a young woman hoping to be the fulfillment of that struggle. This is, in the end, a novel about the burden of being the first of your kind — a burden you do not always survive.” The New York Times Book Review. This program is part of the NEA Big Read, National Endowment for the Arts.

April 8, 2018

Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

Enduring, romantic, and erotic love, or heartbreak, break-ups, and unrequited love.  To celebrate National Poetry Month we will look at poems from around the world about the many kinds of love.  Please bring a favorite or a newly discovered poem about one of these topics to read aloud.

Before We Were Yours

June 3, 2018

Lisa Wingate
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“I absolutely loved this book. I'm still basking in the afterglow, in shock at the true crime elements, in awe at the journey of these characters who seem to have immortal souls.” —Jamie Ford

How to Stop Time

July 1, 2018

Matt Haig
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

"In this new novel by Haig, a man of extraordinarily long life deals with a painfully ordinary question: what is it we live for? Tom Hazard, though he has gone by many names, has an unusual condition that makes him age exceptionally slowly—he's more than 400 years old...An engaging story framed by a brooding meditation on time and meaning." —Kirkus Review

An American Family: a Memoir of Work and Sacrifice

August 5, 2018

Khizr Khan
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

“Moving . . . a story about family and faith, told with a poet’s sensibility . . . Khizr Khan’s book can teach all of us what real American patriotism looks like.” —The New York Times Book Review

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

September 9, 2018

Robin Sloan
Discussion Leader: Matt Neer

“One of the most thoughtful and fun reading experiences you're likely to have this year...There's so much largehearted magic in this book.” ―NPR

Born a Crime

October 7, 2018

Trevor Noah
Discussion Leader: Matt Neer

“[Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”—Booklist

A Gentleman in Moscow

November 4, 2018

Amor Towles
Discussion Leader: Erica Brown

“In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight . . .This is a book in which the cruelties of the age can't begin to erase the glories of real human connection and the memories it leaves behind. A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility." —Kirkus Reviews

The Cooking Gene

February 3, 2019

Michael Twitty
Adult Non-Fiction - 641.5929 Twi

A memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces the paths of the author's ancestors (black and white) through the crucible of slavery to show its effects on our food today.

Killers of the Flower Moon

March 3, 2019

David Grann
Adult NonFiction - 976.6004 Gra

 In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

May 5, 2019

Gail Honeyman
Adult Fiction - Honeyma

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living.

Where the Crawdads Sing

June 2, 2019

Delia Owens
New Arrivals

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved.

Ride of Our Lives

July 7, 2019

Mike Leonard
LP 917.3 Le

Personal account of growing up in the U.S.

Animal Dreams

August 4, 2019

Barbara Kingsolver

Hallie Nodine fights for justice in Nicaragua while her sister, Codi, returns to Arizona to confront her dying father, as myths, dreams, and flashbacks blend to examine life's commitments.