Book Club Discussion: Invincible Summer

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Invincible Summer by Alice Adams. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • To what degree do you think the friends’ lives and aspirations are shaped by their social class?
  • We follow Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien across twenty years and through some of the most formative experiences of their lives, including redundancy, divorce, prison and having a disabled child; do you think their characters responded to these challenges in a convincing and interesting way?
  • One of the central themes of the novel is finding the hope and courage to carry on despite life’s disappointments and tragedies. Did you come away feeling that although the characters do not find simple solutions to their problems, the overall message is redemptive?
  • Invincible Summer takes place over twenty years and takes in a number of historical events. How much did you feel the characters were masters of their own fates, and how much were they buffeted by forces of economics and history far greater than themselves?
  • Did you feel comfortable with the book’s not having an unequivocally happy ending?

Questions from publisher.

 

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Book Club Discussion: The Summer Before the War

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The author presents two strong women in the characters of Beatrice Nash and Agatha Kent. How are they similar and different? Why do you think the author chose to present both voices?
  • Who is your favorite character and what draws you to him or her in particular? Whom do you dislike in the book, and does he or she have redeeming features?
  • The author has said she thinks the whole world can be explained in a small town. Did she succeed at that in this book? What do you think can or cannot be described and explained within such a setting?
  • Why are books about war so compelling? Do you agree with Beatrice that no writer can ever write about war in a way that will prevent it? Is it a valuable topic anyway?
  • Did The Summer Before the War change what you knew or how you thought of the First World War? How so?

Questions from publisher

 

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Book Discussion: Julie and Julia

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Julie has such a remarkable relationship with Julia Child, despite never having met her. What did you think of the relationship that Julie built in her mind? And why does it not matter, in some sense, when Julie finds out that Julia wasn’t an admirer of hers or the Project?
  • Did you find Julie to be a likeable character? Did you relate to her insecurities, anxieties, and initial discontent? Why do you think it is that she was able to finish the Project despite various setbacks?
  • If someone were to ask you about this book, how would you describe it? Is it a memoir of reinvention? An homage to Julia Child? A rags-to-riches story? A reflection on cooking and the centrality of food in our lives? Or is it all (or none) of these?
  • Did Julie’s exploits in her tiny kitchen make you want to cook? Or did they make you thankful that you don’t have to debone a duck or sauté a liver? Even if your tastes may not coincide with Julia Child’s recipes, did the book give you a greater appreciation of food and cooking?
  • When Julie began the Project, she knew little to nothing about blogging. What do you think blogging about her experiences offered her? Does writing about events in your life help you understand and appreciate them more? Do you think the project would have gone differently if the blog hadn’t gained so much attention? Who was the blog mainly for, Julie or her readers? Questions from litlovers.

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Book Discussion: The Year of Living Danishly

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The author and her family pick up and move to another country. Would you ever be able to make a big transition like this? Have you?
  • What are some reasons you think Danish people are the happiest people on earth? Why do you think these things have such an influence on happiness?
  • Do you think that living Danishly is doable in the United States? Or is the Danish way of life not fully achievable in our country? Why or why not?
  • Do you plan to try to try to live more Danishly? Are there any changes you plan on making in your own life after reading the book? How will you implement these changes?
  • What did you think about the decision the author made at the end of the book?

Questions by Hello Book Lover.

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Book Discussion: Attachments

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Much of what we learn about Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner–Snyder comes from their email exchanges. What impression do you get of these two women? What draws you to Beth’s character? To Jennifer’s? What about their communication attracts Lincoln?
  • Lincoln’s job, among other things, is to monitor company email. What is your opinion of Lincoln’s job? What ethical dilemmas, if any, did you see for Lincoln? How would you have acted given the same position and why?
  • What does Lincoln discover about the identity of Beth’s “My Cute Guy?” How does this revelation complicate the story? What is your opinion of how Beth goes about investigating her office crush?
  • What impact does his brief reunion with Sam have on Lincoln? What significance does the timing of this reunion carry within the story? How would you have handled the same situation and why?
  • Attachments brings up the interesting notion of “love before love at first sight.” Do you believe in this idea? Is it possible? What do you see in Beth and Lincoln’s future?

    Questions from publisher.

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Book Discussion: Where’d You Go Bernadette

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective?
  • What are your thoughts on Bernadette’s character? Has she become unhinged or has she always been a little crazy? What, if anything, do you think sent her over the edge? Have you ever had a moment in your own life that utterly changed you, or made you call into question your own sanity?
  • The book has a very playful structure. Do you think it works? Why do you think the author chose it rather than a more straightforward, traditional structure?
  • What do you think of Bernadette and Elgie’s marriage? Is it dysfunctional?  Is there real love there?
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to the book? How and why? Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?

Questions from litlovers.

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Book Club Discussion: The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • The book deals with learning to let go and go with the flow. In relation to traveling, do you struggle with going with the flow or do you find it more difficult to let go? Why?
  • What did you think of the author’s portrayal of female friendships?
  • What role does Carly Dawson play in Friedman’s journey?
  • Did you appreciate that the book was not as romance focused as it could have been?
  • What was your favorite place that Friedman traveled to? Why?

Questions partially adapted from author interview.

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Book Club Discussion: Wild

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • When Cheryl discovers the guidebook to the Pacific Crest Trail, she says that the trip “was an idea, vague and outlandish, full of promise and mystery.” Later, her soon-to-be ex-husband suggests she wants to do the hike “to be alone.” What do you think her reasons were for committing to this journey?
  • In the beginning of the book, Cheryl’s prayers are literally curse words—curses for her mother’s dying, curses against her mother for failing. How does her spiritual life change during the course of the book?
  • Cheryl’s pack, also known as Monster, is one of those real-life objects that also makes a perfect literary metaphor: Cheryl has too much carry on her back and in her mind. Are there other objects she takes with her or acquires along the way that take on deeper meanings? How so?
  • “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves,” Cheryl writes her first day on the trail. She is speaking about her fear of rattlesnakes and mountain lions and serial killers. To defeat that fear, she tells herself a new story, the story that she is brave and safe. What do you think about this approach, which she herself calls “mind control”? What are some of her other ways of overcoming fear?
  • At one point, Cheryl tells herself, “I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly.” It’s a moment of self-criticism and despair. And yet, some belief in herself exists in that statement. How do the things Cheryl believes about herself throughout the memoir, even during her lowest moments, help or hurt her on the PCT?

Questions from Oprah’s Book Club!

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Book Club Discussion: Modern Romance

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

How have cell phones changed the conventions of modern dating? Overall, despite some of the drawbacks that Ansari points to in Modern Romance, would you say our instant texting and communications make the dating scene better or worse…or, basically, no different.

Talk about Ansari’s statement that “the whole culture of finding love and a mate has radically changed” in the modern era.” In what way…and why? Or maybe you don’t really agree with him? If so, why not?

What do you think of the millennials’ preference for texting rather than actually talking on the phone?

Toward the end, Ansari says this: “The main thing I’ve learned from this research is that we’re all in it together.” What exactly does he mean? Do you agree…or not?

What advice would you offer those in the dating world?

Questions from Litlovers.

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Book Club Discussion: The Engagements

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

Feminism and the role of women is a recurring theme in The Engagements. Which character’s attitude did you relate to the most, and why?

Two of the novel’s major characters are anti-marriage, with story lines that are decades apart. How does time change society’s attitude toward intentionally unmarried women?

Why do you think Frances is the only character whose story moves through time?

While the novel is clearly about marriage, parental relationships also play a major role. Discuss and compare the parenting styles of Evelyn, James, and Kate.

Which story line did you enjoy the most? Whose story would you like to keep reading?

 

Questions from Litlovers.

Interview with J. Courtney Sullivan.

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