It's in the Bag: Book Club Kits to Go

Want to start a book club? Looking for new titles for your existing club? The Monroe County Public Library has a unique collection to support local book clubs. "It's in the Bag" allows a patron with a library card in good standing to borrow one bag for a 6-week period.

These bags contain 8 copies of a title, discussion questions, a list of readalikes, reviews, and biographical information about the author.

Call the MCPL information desk at 812-349-3228 if you have any questions about borrowing one of our "It's in the Bag" book bags.

If you have a suggestion for a new book for our book club bags, please make a Suggestion for Purchase.  You can let us know that your suggestion is for a book club kit in the "other information" box.

 Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood. Adult Book Club Kit

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. His stories form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

 Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus

Mary Shelley

Rediscover the horrifying story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation reading the gothic original by Mary Shelley. Dr. Frankenstein learns the secret of imparting life to inanimate matter. To test his theories, he collects bones from the charnel-houses to construct a "human" being, and then gives it life. The creature, endowed with supernatural size and strength, is revolting to look at, and frightens all who see it. Lonely and miserable, it comes to hate its creator. 

All the birds in the sky. Adult Book Club Kit

Charlie Anders

"Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families. But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages. A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse"-- Provided by publisher.

All the light we cannot see : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Anthony Doerr

"A blind French girl's and a German boy's paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work"-- Provided by publisher.

An American tune : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Barbara Shoup

While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the '60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.


Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has claimed the lives of members of eleven expeditions. The twelfth expedition consisting of four women hopes to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. The first of the Southern Reach novels. 

Another Brooklyn : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Jacqueline Woodson

August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood Brooklyn streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, and brilliantly talented. But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reach for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappear, where fathers found religion, and where madness is a sunset away. Woodson heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood--when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up.

Before We Were Yours

Lisa Wingate

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story.Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings are wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage. Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford  returns home to help her father and a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history. Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals--in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.

The book thief. Adult Book Club Kit

Markus Zusak

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.


Ann Patchett

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly--thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. 

Dark Matter

Blake Crouch

One night after an evening out, Jason Dessen, forty-year-old physics professor living with his wife and son in Chicago, is kidnapped at gunpoint by a masked man, driven to an abandoned industrial site and injected with a powerful drug. As he wakes, a man Jason's never met smiles down at him and says, "Welcome back, my friend." But this life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife; his son was never born; and he's not an ordinary college professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something impossible. Is it this world or the other that's the dream? How can he possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could have imagined--one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark places. Adult Book Club Kit

Gillian Flynn

After witnessing the murder of her mother and sisters, seven-year-old Libby Day testifies against her brother Ben, but twenty-five years later she tries to profit from her tragic history and admit that her story might not have been accurate.

Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania. Adult Book Club Kit

Erik Larson

The #1 New York Times best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts presents a 100th-anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania that discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as President Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.

The Dry

Jane Harper

A small town hides big secrets in The Dry. After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke's steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn't tell the truth and Luke is dead. Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. 

Elephant Company : the inspiring story of an unlikely hero and the animals who helped him save lives in World War II. Adult Book Club Kit

Vicki Croke

"At the onset of World War II, [Billy] Williams formed Elephant Company and was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma and saving refugees, including on his own 'Hannibal Trek,' [becoming] a media sensation during the war, telling reporters that the elephants did more for him than he was ever able to do for them"-- Provided by publisher.

Faithful. Adult Book Club Kit

Alice Hoffman

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend's future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion--from dark suffering to true happiness--a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls--including an angel who's been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Flipped for murder. Adult Book Club Kit

Maddie Day

After moving to South Lick, Indiana, Robbie Jordan opens a restaurant and store and investigates when she is accused of murdering the mayor's assistant.

The flying circus. Adult Book Club Kit

Susan Crandall

"Two daredevils and a farm boy embark on the journey of a lifetime across America's heartland in the Roaring Twenties. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It's a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable, and as fascinating as they are flawed."-- Provided by publisher.

H is for Hawk. Adult Book Club Kit

Helen Macdonald

"When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life."--

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Salman Rushdie

Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals this is the story of Haroun, a 12-year-old boy whose father Rashid is the greatest storyteller in a city so sad that it has forgotten its name. When the gift of gab suddenly deserts Rashid, Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.

Hillbilly Elegy

J.D. Vance

Growing up in Appalachia may leave a person open to harsh criticism and stereotype, yet Vance delves into his childhood and upbringing to make a clear distinction between perception and reality. Born in Kentucky and shuffling among homes in Ohio, the author ended the cycle of poverty, abuse, and drug use after becoming a U.S. Marine and Yale Law School graduate. His memoir is less about his triumph and more about exposing the gritty truth of how a culture fell into ruin. Using examples from his own life with references to articles and studies throughout, Vance's intent is to show that what was once the fulfillment of the American Dream—moving to the Rust Belt for a better life—has now left families in peril. His plea is not for sympathy but for understanding. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this memoir is akin to investigative journalism. While some characters seem too caricaturelike, it is often those terrifyingly authentic traits that make people memorable. Vance is careful to point out that this is his recollection of events; not everyone is painted in a positive light.


Yaa Gyasi

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Jamie Ford

Fifth-grade scholarship students and best friends Henry and Keiko are the only Asians in their Seattle elementary school in 1942. Henry is Chinese, Keiko is Japanese, and Pearl Harbor has made all Asians—even those who are American born—targets for abuse. Because Henry's nationalistic father has a deep-seated hatred for Japan, Henry keeps his friendship with and eventual love for Keiko a secret. When Keiko's family is sent to an internment camp in Idaho, Henry vows to wait for her. Forty years later, Henry comes upon an old hotel where the belongings of dozens of displaced Japanese families have turned up in the basement, and his love for Keiko is reborn. In his first novel, award-winning short-story writer 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. The result is a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history.

Into the Water

Paula Hawkins

When a single mom and a teen girl are found murdered at the bottom of a river in a small town weeks apart, an ensuing investigation dredges up a complicated local history involving human instincts and the damage they can inflict. By the best-selling author of  The Girl on the Train . 

The invention of wings. Adult Book Club Kit

Sue Monk Kidd

The story follows Hetty 'Handful' Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist), Kidd allows herself to go beyond the record to flesh out the inner lives of all the characters, both real and imagined.

The language of flowers : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own past."

Last Bus to Wisdom. Adult Book Club Kit

Ivan Doig

Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Doig's beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old's imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise: Aunt Kate-bossy, opinionated, argumentative, and tyrannical--is nothing like her sister. She henpecks her good-natured husband, Herman the German, and Donal can't seem to get on her good side either. After one disagreement too many, Kate decides to pack him back to the authorities in Montana on the next Greyhound. But to Donal's surprise, he's not traveling solo: Herman the German has decided to fly the coop with him. In the immortal American tradition, the pair light out for the territory together, meeting a classic Doigian ensemble of characters and having rollicking misadventures along the way. 

The light between oceans : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

M.L. Stedman

"A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore"-- Provided by publisher.

The lightkeepers : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Abby Geni

Miranda is a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions. Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and falls under the thrall of the place nicknamed "the Islands of the Dead.""-- Provided by publisher.

Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng

 In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

A Man Called Ove. Adult Book Club Kit

Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

March: Book one and Book Two. Adult Book Club Kit

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

A vivid first-hand account of John Lewis's lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis's personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Me before you. Adult Book Club Kit

Jojo Moyes

"They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose. Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life--steady boyfriend, close family--who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy--but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living."-- Provided by publisher.


Konar, Affinity

It's 1944 when twin sisters Pearl and Stasha Zagorski arrive at Auschwitz where they become a part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo. The girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks--a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin--travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society. Adult Book Club Kit

Amy Hill Hearth

Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore. Adult Book Club Kit

Robin Sloan

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.

My name is Lucy Barton. Adult Book Club Kit

Elizabeth Strout

"Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters"-- provided by publisher.

Never caught : the Washingtons' relentless pursuit of their runaway slave, Ona Judge

Erica Armstrong Dunbar

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked everything to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought eight slaves, including Ona Judge, about whom little has been written. Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

The nightingale. Adult Book Club Kit

Kristin Hannah

"In pre-World War II France, Viann and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. As the war progresses, it's not only the sisters' relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions"--Provided by publisher.

Once we were brothers. Adult Book Club Kit

Ronald H. Balson

Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland and a young love that incredibly endures through the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.

Orphan train : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Christina Baker Kline

A captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask. A powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.

Our souls at night : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Kent Haruf

In Holt, Colorado, widower Louis Waters is initially thrown when the widowed Addie Moore suggests that they spend time together, in bed, to stave off loneliness, but soon they are exchanging the confidences and memories.

A place in time : twenty stories of the Port William membership. Adult Book Club Kit

Wendell Berry

A collection of twenty short stories about Port William, a mythical town on the banks of the Kentucky River, populated over the years by a cast of unforgettable characters living in a single place over a long time.

Prodigal summer : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Barbara Kingsolver

Wildlife biologist Deanna is caught off guard by an intrusive young hunter, while bookish city wife Lusa finds herself facing a difficult identity choice, and elderly neighbors find attraction at the height of a long-standing feud.

Slaughterhouse-five, or, The children's crusade : a duty-dance with death. Adult Book Club Kit

Kurt Vonnegut

A fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much), who, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, 'The Florence of the Elbe,' a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from.

The stargazer's sister : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Carrie Brown

After her brother—astronomer and composer William Herschel—rescues her from a life of drudgery in Germany and brings her to England, introducing her to a world of music-making and stargazing, Lina is happy in her new role as his assistant—William announces that he is to be married and her whole world begins to collapse.

Still Alice. Adult Book Club Kit

Lisa Genova

"Feeling at the top of her game when she is suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, Harvard psychologist Alice Howland struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life as her concept of self gradually slips away."-- NoveList

Still life with bread crumbs : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Anna Quindlen

Moving to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.

The storied life of A.J. Fikry : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Gabrielle Zevin

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

Swing Time. Adult Book Club Kit

Zadie Smith

Two brown girls dream of being dancers--but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey--the same twists, the same shakes--and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. 

Today Will Be Different

Semple, Maria

Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action--life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office--but not Eleanor--that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. A hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

The Underground Railroad. Adult Book Club Kit

Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. National Book Award winner.

The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

Where'd you go, Bernadette : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Maria Semple

When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

The wives of Los Alamos : a novel. Adult Book Club Kit

Tarashea Nesbit

The Wives of Los Alamos is a novel that sheds light onto one of the strangest and most monumental research projects in modern history. It's a testament to a remarkable group of women who carved out a life for themselves, in spite of the chaos of the war and the shroud of intense secrecy.