Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin

The author chooses to begin each chapter with a description of a short story. Discuss some of the ways the stories relate to the chapters with which they are paired. Is A.J. creating a canon for Maya? How does the book itself function as a kind of canon? If these are A.J.’s favorites, what do they say about A.J. as a reader and as a man? 

For more information about the author, check out:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd" by Jim Fergus

Were any of May Dodd's actions unsympathetic? Would you find it difficult to leave your children behind in order to escape a horrendous situation?

For more information about the author, Jim Fergus, check out:

"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien

In the title story of Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried", soldiers carry things both tangible and intangible. Which were heavier? Which items spoke most powerfully to you? What do you carry around with you every day, materially and emotionally? What do soldiers carry in war today, and what would you most want to carry in war?


For more information about the author check out:

"Minding Frankie" by Maeve Binchy

There are a number of recent retirees, voluntary and otherwise, who become an important part of Frankie’s life. What kind of roles do her grandparents, Josie and Charles, take on? What about Dr. Hat and Muttie? More generally, what do the very young and the very mature have to offer each other? Which generation do you think needs the other more?

For more information about Maeve Binchy, check out:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane

Jimmy has a recurring dream where Ray Harris tells him, "You can't outrun a train." (page 368) 

What Does Ray mean by that?

For more information about the author, check out:

Friday, July 21, 2017

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper explores the moral, practical and emotional complications of putting one human being in pain or in danger for the well being of another. Discuss the different kinds of ethical problems that Anna, as the "designer baby," presents in this story? Did your view change as the story progressed? Why or why not? Has this novel changed any of your opinions about other conflicts in bioethics like stem cell research or genetically manipulated offspring?

For more information about the author, check out:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"You Know When the Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon

Many of the stories in this book are about the relationships between men and women.  How would these stories change if the protagonists were flipped? If, say, "Inside the Break" was told from Manny's point of view instead of Kailani's? Or if "Leave" followed Trish instead of Nick?

For more information about the author, Siobhan Fallon, check out:

For information about her first novel "Confusion of Languages" (release date: June 27, 2017), check out:

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: