Book groups

ELPL offers book groups for all ages and reading preferences.

Books on Tap - September 2016

On September 13 at 6:30 pm, Books on Tap will meet to discuss Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.

In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

Books on Tap - August Follow Up

The kick-off for One Book, One Community has begun! Last night at Jimmy's, we gathered to discuss the 2016 OBOC selections of Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario and City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence. Both describe very different experiences of immigration and refugee status. The authors have very distinct writing styles, relying heavily on either a journalistic approach or research approach. While discussing these titles, we were able to also draw comparisons to the 2012 OBOC selection Behind the Beautiful Forevers as well as the 2016 Olympics. Overall, we discovered our lack of knowledge surrounding these topics and they served as an eye-opener to important points that we - as mankind - should attempt to be more attuned to.

Books on Tap - August 2016

Come to Jimmy's Pub on August 9 at 6:30pm to discuss the 2016 One Book, One Community selections: Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario and City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence.

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

An astonishing story that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States, now updated with a new Epilogue and Afterword, photos of Enrique and his family, an author interview, and more—the definitive edition of a classic of contemporary America

Books on Tap - July Follow Up

What a group we had!! It was a great time discussing the microhistory of the world through the lens of A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage. Our guest speaker spread some light on the developments of different drinks and foods and how they influenced history. While not all information was new to our readers, it was interesting the little pieces that people picked up on throughout the book. Some people commented on the writing style and questioned why some beverages were included and not others.

Join us next month when we discuss the One Book, One Community titles Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario and City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence.

Out of This World - July 2016

East Lansing Public Library - 3/4 Meeting Room

July's title is Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Upcoming titles for Out of This World:

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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:

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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:

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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:

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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:

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

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.

Pages