Books Plus

What is Books Plus?

It's a once-a-month discussion group which meets at the library to talk about a wide range of books and issues. Books and other media, both fiction and non-fiction, are the springboards for discussing new trends, social issues, genres, best sellers, foreign authors, etc. Each month, the group focuses on one or more books (chosen in advance). A volunteer leads the discussion.

When? Where?

The group usually meets on the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. in program room 2B at the downtown public library. Registration is not required.

Who can be a leader?

Anyone who is interested in books and wants to share that interest with others. Arrangements will be made a few months in advance with the discussion leader and the title(s) selected for the meeting.


Refreshments provided by the Friends of the Library.

Don't forget that we are always looking for volunteer Discussion Leaders.


Next at Books Plus

Sundays at 2 p.m. in Program Room 2B

May 1, 2016

Euphoria by 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

June 5, 2016

The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni

Discussion Leader: Dory

“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

July 10, 2016

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall

(Note the new date—we moved it back because of the Fourth of July weekend)

Discussion Leader: Luann

"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

August 7, 2016

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Discussion Leader: Luann

“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

September 11, 2016

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Discussion Leader: Wendy

“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


October 2, 2016

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Discussion Leader: Dory

“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


Previous Books Plus selections:



April 3, 2016


Bear, Foxes, Jackals, Crows: Poems about Animals


Discussion Leader: Dory


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.


March 6, 2016


Deep Dark Down by Héctor Tobar


Discussion Leader: Dory





“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


February 7, 2016

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

Discussion Leader: Dory



"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


January 3, 2016

No Program -- Enjoy the New Year!


December 6, 2015

Booksplus Holiday Tea and Open House

Please join us for our annual Holiday Tea sponsored by The Friends of Monroe County Public Library. We will have elegant desserts and healthy fruit, wonderful cake, and tea and coffee. We will provide recommended book lists and library staff favorites of the year. Please share your favorite books and ideas for future Booksplus programs.


November 1, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Discussion Leader: Dory










“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



October 4, 2015

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Discussion Leader: Dory










“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


September 13, 2015

March: Book 1 and March: Book 2 by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Discussion Leader: Dory

Image Image


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.


June 7, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Discussion Leader: Dory










"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


May 3, 2015

The Storied Life of A.J Fikry by 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


April 12, 2015

Short Poems: The World in a Few Lines

Discussion Leader: Dory

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.


March 8, 2015

The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love by Joan Mendicott

Discussion Leader: Luann



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.


February 1, 2015

Claire of the Sea Light by 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


January 4, 2015

No program.  Take advantage of the cold weather by catching up on your reading.


December 7, 2014
Booksplus Holiday Tea and Open House
Please join us for our annual Holiday Tea sponsored by The Friends of Monroe County Public Library.  We will have elegant desserts and healthy fruit, wonderful cake, and tea and coffee. We will provide recommended book lists and library staff favorites of the year.  Please share your favorite books and ideas for future Booksplus programs.
November 2, 2014
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon
Miss Dreamsville
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
October 5, 2014
Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
Discussion Leader: Ryan Stacy
Under the volcano
"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 Yor Time

September 7, 2014
The Light Between Oceans by 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

August 3, 2014
Bleeding Edge by 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.

July 13, 2014
A Place in Time by 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.

June 1, 2014
Life after Life by 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."


May 4, 2014
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
Discussion Leader: Ryan Stacy

Woman Upstairs







"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


April 6, 2014
Embrace the New: 21st Century Poetry
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

National Poetry Month








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.

March 2, 2014
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Gone Girl







"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


February 2, 2014
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Discussion Leader: Sarah Bowman

Twelve Tribes of Hattie







"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


December 1, 2013
Holiday Tea and Open House

We invite all readers and discussion members to enjoy holiday refreshments and exchange book talk and suggestions of favorites for book clubs. We'll provide lists of recommended books and share some resources for helping to choose your next read.


November 3, 2013
The Last Chinese Chef  by 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.


October 6, 2013
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children  by 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


September 8, 2013
Sweet Tooth  by 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


August 4, 2013
These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

These is my words







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.


July 7, 2013
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by 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


June 2, 2013
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  by 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


May 5, 2013
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Discussion Leader: Luann Dillon

Forgotten Garden







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


April 7, 2013
National Poetry Month: Little Songs: Exploring the Sonnet
Discussion Leader: Dory Lynch

National Poetry Month








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.