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.


  • Celebrate Black History month this year by reading one of these recently-published books from your library. From biographies and memoirs to narrative history and current events, and covering music, sports, civil rights and slavery, there's something for everyone on this list.

  • All of the books on this list are scheduled to be released as movies in 2016. Some of the release dates (in paratheses) will probably change or have not been announced yet. Click on the title for more information about the book; Click on the date or "TBA" for more information about the film!

  • 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.

  • Each February the United States celebrates African American History Month, which traces its origins to 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson designated the second week of February to be "Negro History Week." This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. With the rise of the civil rights movement by the late 1960s, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. In 1976 President Gerald R.

  • 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.

  • 2016 marks the centennial celebration of America’s National Parks.  Don’t wait another 100 years. Read about and visit your National Parks this year.

  • 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."

  • Summer 2015 is upon us. Time to seek out those gripping but not too challenging beach reads. This list contains new titles that may not get a lot of press, but are still great reads.

  • 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.

  • College towns are known for a smart, engaged populace, a fondness for team sports, and often, lots of music and bars. But what do books set in university towns tell us about the culture? Here is a sampling of books set in towns like our own.

  • Can you tell a book by its title? Here's a list of zaney, off beat, eclectic, quirky books you may enjoy.

  • June is Adopt a Cat month! Check out one of these non-fiction books about how cats can make a difference in our lives and how we can make a difference in theirs.

  • Celebrate Black History Month by checking out one of these recently published books about African Americans.

  • Celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial year by reading and rereading some outstanding Hoosier author’s works. Between 1900 – 1941, Indiana authors were second only to New York for being on the New York Times Best Seller List. The following list will take you from the early 20th century to our current year, 2016.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • May is Older Americans Month and the time when here locally our community holds the Creative Aging Festival to identify and promote best practices to create opportunities for older people to understand their full potential, get involved with creative and civic activities, and find fresh ways to enhance their quality of life.

  • Ever dream of writing a story, graphic novel, biography or memoir? As literary prize-winner E.L. Doctorow said, "Writing is an exploraton. You start from nothing and learn as you go." It's time to begin exploring those inner and outer worlds that only you can describe. Writing, as many authors agree, is like living twice. Start your second life now.

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

  • If you're tired of whipping up the same old dishes in the kitchen try one of these unique cookbooks for inspiration. From Thug Kitchen to Dr. Who to literary cuisine there's something to motivate everyone to start a new culinary adventure.

  • We all have them. Sometimes we praise them, sometimes we rail against a relative or two, but families have made us what we are, who we've become. These novels and nonfiction books explore domestic life in all its joys, sorrows, perplexities, and anger. For what would our lives be like without this network of people so like and unlike us, who share our memories?

    “In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, a bridge to our future.”  --Alex Haley

  • 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.

  • The following titles are sure to culitivate lively book group discussions. They have been recommended for book clubs by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Novelist and the librarians at the Monroe County Public Library. All titles are available at MCPL and some are available as "It’s In the Bag" book club kits.

  • 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.

  • Sometimes listening to a book read by the author is even better than reading the book yourself. So choose one of these audiobooks,  sit back and let the authors read to you.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • We wanted to let you know about some of the great books we read this year.  Read the list to find out why we liked them and maybe you'll find a favorite too.

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

  • Magical Realism is an aesthetic style used in fiction naturally blending magical or unreal elements into an otherwise mundane environment. These heightened elements are described in a straightforward manner and help readers access a deeper understanding of reality. Try one of these titles to find out if you enjoy stories in the magical realism realm.

  • 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.

  • Welcome to March Madness. Spring fever is in the air and St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. This book list is filled with titles about St. Patrick's Day, basketball and sprink break.

  • 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.

  • Aside from what we were taught in elementary school, how many of us have a really in depth understanding of Native American history? This list of carefully chosen titles offers well documented, fascinating accounts of America’s indigenous peoples, going as far back as before Columbus.

  • "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.

  • 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.

  • When the air gets chilly and leaves fall from the trees it’s the perfect time to pick up a scary book. If you’re in the mood for a fright, try one of these recently published horror novels. Choose from tales of the paranormal, a new twist on vampires, exorcism combined with reality television and a variety of other horrors to enthrall you and keep you up at night.

  • 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.

  • War has always been a popular topic for books, both fiction and nonfiction. While some of these books focus on war, all of them present the experiences of those who serve in the United States military, as well as the impact of their service on their families and communities. One of the nonfiction titles, Soldier Girls, focuses specifically on the lives of three women who served in the Indiana National Guard, including a Bloomington resident. All of these titles provide a look into the world of those who choose to serve our country in the armed forces.

  • 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.

  • For some of us the best part of Thanksgiving and the holidays is not the food or visiting with the old man but a chance for merrymaking with brothers and sisters. This list might remind you of why you miss your siblings and the way they annoy you, defend you, knock you down a peg or two (right when you need it), hold your secrets, lend you money - and how they are the only ones who speak your language.

  • 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.

  • Every year the Library asks its staff members to tell us about their favorite reads and provide a brief description to share. If you're stumped and need a smashing good tale, this is a good place to start.

  • 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.

  • This list includes titles that received rave reviews from participants in our adult summer reading program. Our readers found all kinds of treasures to enjoy this summer from thrillers to manga to westerns to non-fiction.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Here's a selection of Wild Things by and about Maurice Sendak available through the Library. For a more complete list, please see the Sendak-related items in the Library catalog.