Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Defending Jacob" by William Landay

How much of a factor did Jacob's age play into your sympathies for him or lack thereof? If Jacob were 17, would you view him differently? What about if he was nine?

For further information about the author, check out:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey's book, issued in 1962, is nearly 50 years old. Are the thematic concerns of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest still relevant today, do they speak to the 21st century...or are they outdated?

For more information about Ken Kesey, check out:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

Who is the queen bee in this story?

For further information about the author, check out:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Keeper of Lost Causes" by Jussi Adler-Olsen

"The Keeper of Lost Causes" is the first book in the Department Q series by Jussi Adler-Olsen.   In an interview, Adler-Olsen was asked the following:

A. I hate power abuse and injustice and in every one of my novels, I tell a version of power abuse and show ways in which you can break it. I am convinced that my readers do not just want to be entertained – of course, they also want that – but they also want to learn something and take something with them, which invites reflection. One reason why I chose to write criminal thrillers is that I thereby can touch upon every subject. Evil is a useful tool and when you describe the contrast between good and evil, you can send a message.

Is the author successful in doing this in "The Keeper of Lost Causes"?  Is there good and evil in many of the characters of the book, including the antagonist?

For more information about the author:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"Labor Day" by Joyce Maynard

The novel is set at a time during which a number of transitions are taking place in the lives of the main characters. What transition if Henry going through? Adele? Frank? How is that feeling of transition echoed in the time period in which the story is framed (the end of summer and the beginning of the school year)?

For more information about the author, check out:

For interviews with the author about Labor Day:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica

After reading "The Good Girl", who do you feel was the true victim, or victims, and the true conspirator?  Have your opinions changed since beginning the novel, and if so, how?

For more information about the author, check out:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Faith" by Jennifer Haigh

How do you define faith? What does faith mean to each of the characters, especially the siblings - Art, Sheila and Mike?  Is this a good title for the novel?

For further information about Jennifer Haigh, check out:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski

"Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski was written in 1970 - a time with more limited television access and no social media (as we have today).  Is this book still relevant to our times, especially with people -- and the media -- transferring their own interpretations and opinions on public figures and politicians?

For information about Jerzy Kosinski, check out:

For interpretations of the book:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Absolute Power" by David Baldacci

What do you think was Luther's motivation? He could have sent the letter opener anonymously to a news agency, but he doesn't. Instead he is set on a personal vendetta. Why do you think this is so?

For further information about David Baldacci, check out:

Also on his website:

David on The Writing Process: Absolute Power
Each writing project presents its own distinct set of challenges.
With my first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, I had a dilemma from the very first page. I decided that the first character the reader would meet would be a burglar, Luther Whitney (the Clint Eastwood character, for those of you who saw the movie but didn’t read the book.) For the novel to work, the reader had to like, or at least sympathize with, Whitney. The challenge to overcome was that Luther Whitney was a criminal. The opening scene showed Whitney, not a particularly sympathetic character, breaking into a home to steal valuables. Here’s how I went about overcoming that problem…
First, as superficial and callous as it sounds, Whitney stole only from the rich. Some would say, “They can afford to lose it; they have insurance.” If I relied completely on that justification, however, the story would still have failed.
Second, I made it clear that Whitney had never harmed anyone during his burglaries and never even carried a weapon. He relied on his skills and his wits. That made him more palatable.
Third, and perhaps most important, I positioned Whitney’s act of burglary next to an act of far greater criminality: a man beating and nearly killing a woman.
Last, I put Luther Whitney in a locked closet, with a one-way mirror, and forced him to watch this heinous crime. By doing so I also locked the reader in the closet with Whitney. Readers were looking over his shoulder and watching too. (There’s a bit of voyeur in everyone.) Whitney was repulsed by what he saw and wanted to help the woman, but he would have sacrificed his own freedom (and perhaps his life) by doing so. A tough decision for anyone. He ended up doing nothing and hated himself for it. And you, the reader, felt all of those same emotions and thereby bonded with Whitney. Readers came out of that room when he did, perhaps not loving Whitney, but certainly better understanding who and what he was – forgetting about Luther Whitney, the burglar, and focusing on Luther Whitney, the man. At that point, with my initial dilemma overcome, I could get on with the story.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie

What are the motives behind the murders of all the guests? Each of the guests is guilty of a crime, but not one that could be prosecuted in a court of law. Does each receive his/her just deserts? In other words, has true justice been accomplished by the end of the novel? Is the murderer insane as all the guests claim? Or is he/she acting with clear-headed logic and rationality?

For further information about Agatha Christie and her extensive bibliography, check out: