Book groups

ELPL offers book groups for all ages and reading preferences.

Books on Tap - July 2016

Learn about the history of man as told through the history of drinks! Visit Jimmy's on July 12th at 6:30pm and join our discussion of A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage!

"Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period. 

The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

This story is full of well rounded characters, earth-shattering perils, and a laundry list of fantasy tropes. TL/DR: If you like High Fantasy (as opposed to the gritty stuff currently popular) then read this and be pleased.

Tolkien is visibly present in this book. He is there in the "mortal races band together to fight evil god they already beat once-also, elves are better at everything, and there is a proud race of horse riders on the plain", and "lets have an prolog that tells a thousand years of history". Lewis is there in the "young people from our world turn out to be important in a fantasy world". There are also snips and snails from various European myths and folktales, justified in canon since Fionavar is the the "first of all worlds", so our tales are just echoes of the originals. There is an Action Girl, a High King, a Lovable Rogue, and more.

Kay has said that the book is supposed to be derivative, since he wanted to see how much emotional and moral depth he could explore within the constraints of High Fantasy, but for me the similarities were jarring. Also, the use of overly pompous syntax got on my nerves. In-book, that would have read 'On my nerves, did grow the use of overly pompous syntax'. Thankfully, it was mostly present in the only a few plot lines, those taking place in the High Kingdom (because of course there's a High King), and when the plot is on the plains with the horse-riders the writing is much more naturalistic.

The characters are this book's saving grace. Kay is a master at breathing life into his characters, giving them both noble traits and flaws, deeply held beliefs and contradictions held just as strong. If a figure comes across as one note, it's usually because we just haven't gotten to the reveal yet. There is emotional depth to the characters, and an exploration of morality, of courage and choice, and duty. One character is wracked with guilt, and must struggle to overcome it, Another is filled with shame and anger, none of them are what they seem at first introduction. They must all deal with what they learn while in the other world. I just wish the heroes, college students from our world, weren't so good at doing the fantasy stuff right away, especially the city kid who is suddenly a great warrior on horseback.

Just beware that this is Book 1 of a trilogy (Fionavar Tapestry), and forgive the fact that some characters just seem to be introduced and then do nothing, and that it ends on a non-ending. It was never meant to be a truly stand-alone work.

If you love this book and want to discuss Kay's decision to create a derivative work, join Eric and the other members of the Out of This World book club as they discuss a new science fiction or fantasy title each month.

Better Living Book Club - July 2016

East Lansing Public Library

July's title is Never Change by Elizabeth Berg.

Upcoming sessions of Better Living Book Club:

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Books on Tap - June 2016

On June 14 @ 6:30pm, find your way to Jimmy's Pub to discuss All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

"From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

Books on Tap - May Follow Up

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell, brought out a range of reactions from our group. Overall, people enjoyed the writing style and thought that the story was an interesting one to tell. As per usual, our discussion veered from one topic to another but still remained relevant to the book at hand. One question brought up through our talk was, what is normal? Is there truly such a standard, or is it something to be interpreted by the individual? Another aspect of the story that created an interesting off-shoot of discussion was the idea of control vs. love. How much control should be allowed in a loving relationship? Does there have to be a controlling aspect to any relationship? When does care and concern cross the line into controlling of another being? We didn't come up with any one answer, and I don't think there is one right answer.

Come to Jimmy's on June 14 when we discuss All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Out of This World - June 2016

East Lansing Public Library

June's title is The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Upcoming titles for Out of This World:

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Better Living Book Club - June 2016

East Lansing Public Library

June's title is The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide For a Meaningful Life:  Seniors Across America Offer Advice to the Next Generations by Doug Meckelson

Upcoming sessions of Better Living Book Club:

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Books on Tap - May 2016

On May 10 at 6:30 pm at Jimmy's Pub, Books on Tap will discuss The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell.

"In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. 

Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?"

Review from Goodreads.

Out of This World - May 2016

East Lansing Public Library

May's title is Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Upcoming sessions of Out of This World for 2016:

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Books on Tap - April Follow Up

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande sparked a very lively conversation with a very large group! The 17 attendees were able to voice a variety of opinions on elderly care and discuss options they have already taken to prepare for future events in their lives. Gawande puts it very well, and most members agreed with his sentiment of this statement: "In the end, people don't view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story." I think Being Mortal brings to the forefront some topics that we as a society do not speak of, yet are still topics that we have to address no matter what. I have recommended this title to many people since reading as I feel it's a good jumping off point for the tough conversations.

Come to Jimmy's on May 10 when we discuss The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell.

Better Living Book Club - May 2016

East Lansing Public Library - Staff Conference Room

May's title is How to Survive Your Doctor's Care by Pamela Gallin, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Upcoming sessions of Better Living Book Club:


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Out of This World - April 2016

East Lansing Public Library - Staff Conference Room

April's title is His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Upcoming sessions of Out of This World for 2016:

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Books & Bagels at 2.0 - April 2016

ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio - Downtown East Lansing

"Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday." (Summary from

Join us at this month's Books & Bagels program to discuss April's book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, over bagels and enjoy a hands-on activity!

Books & Bagels is a book discussion group for 4th-6th graders.  Thank you to Panera Bread of Frandor for providing the bagels, and many thanks to a generous, anonymous donor for providing copies of Books & Bagels titles to the first 15 program participants.

Please note, April's program will be held at the ELPL Maker Studio, located in the Marriott Hotel.

East Lansing Marriott at University Place
Suite 212
East Lansing, MI  48823

The move is due to the library's renovation project.

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Books on Tap - April 2016

Start your spring off right, by reading about health and medicine and how it affects you! Meet at Jimmy's at 6:30 pm on April 12th and discuss Being Mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande.

"In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Books on Tap - March Follow Up

We celebrated our wonderful "winter" weather by having a discussion on a truly heart-wrenching book. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers, was a beautifully written story about honestly tragic characters and events. Many connections were made between issues going on in the 1930s south as compared to issues we face today. There were many points on race, privilege, human rights, and gender equality that we are still dealing with today. There were many who felt the books was not an ideal read because of how sad everything was - no light at the end of the tunnel - but we discussed that even through the sadness, the writing was absolutely amazing! That Carson took experiences from her own life, put it in writing, and lived to tell her own tale, speaks volumes of her as an individual.

Come to Jimmy's on April 11 when we discuss Being Mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end by Atul Gawande.