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.

Not a Hello Book Lover subscriber? Subscribe today on our website!

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.

Not a Hello Book Lover subscriber? Subscribe today on our website!

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.

Not a Hello Book Lover subscriber? Subscribe today on our website!

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.

Not a Hello Book Lover subscriber? Subscribe today on our website!

Book Club Discussion: The Snow Child

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

When Mabel first arrives in Alaska, it seems a bleak and lonely place to her. Does her sense of the land change over time? If so, how?

Her sense of the land definitely changes over time. The land becomes optimistic and hopeful as she starts to appreciate it’s potential and beauty throughout the novel.

In what ways does Faina represent the Alaska wilderness?
She is wild and independent and able to live completely off the land. She adapts to the weather and the landscape.
 
Much of Jack and Mabel’s sorrow comes from not having a family of their own, and yet they leave their extended family behind to move to Alaska. By the end of the novel, has their sense of family changed? Who would they consider a part of their family?
Although Mabel still keeps in contact with her sister, their sense of family has changed to include the people they meet in Alaska. Esther and her family become a part of Jack and Mabel’s family and Faina becomes their daughter. They create a unique family of their own in Alaska.
 

What do you believe happened to Faina in the end? Who was she?

There are many ways the ending can be interpreted and I don’t feel strongly one way or another. It simply seemed like the right way to end the book. Faina served her purpose and moved on. She became a part of the Alaskan Wilderness.

Share your responses in the comments section!

Questions by Princeton Book Review

Book Club Discussion: My True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Holiday Stories

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for My True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Holiday Stories, edited by Stephanie Perkins. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

Did you enjoy reading the collection of short stories? How did the experience compare to reading a full novel?

I enjoyed the fact that I was able to pick it up and read through a story in one sitting. Getting to the end of one story and moving on the the next one was fun. It was also nice to be able to move on from stories I didn’t care for as much!

Which was your favorite short story and why?

Angels in the Snow was my favorite. I liked that it was relatable, modern, and did not contain any fantasy elements. The main character’s mother had recently passed away and he was going through the holiday season without her for the first time. Having had a parent recently pass, this portion of the story was quite relatable. Polaris came in second, the concept was so cute!

Which was your least favorite short story and why?

Krampusklauf was my least favorite! The story felt very young to me and when it turned out the cramps creature was real, not just in costume, the story lost me completely.

Did you notice any recurring themes throughout the anthology?

Each story was based around a couple. I realized about halfway through that all the couples from the stories were depicted in the ice skating rink on the cover! It was fun using the visual clues to figure out who was who. I was actually surprised that love wasn’t the main theme in every story, even though most contained a romantic element. In many stories the holiday season was a background feature, not a front and center theme as I was expecting.

Questions by Hello Book Lover.

Book Club Discussion: You are a Badass

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. What were your main takeaways from the book?

I am not really one for manifesting things through thought, but rather than dwell on her points relating to that, I took away that thinking positively and upwardly (is this a word?) are a great start to achieving your goals.

Her discussion on examining self truths also resonated. She suggests thinking about things you say that start with “I always” and “I never.” I believe she calls this section “Becoming aware of your stories” and it really stuck with me. I think everyone has a tendency to define their own personality and make grand declarations about their tendencies (For example: I’m an introvert! I hate exercise!). She points out that this can be limiting and suggests breaking free of your own self defined personality boundaries.

2. Did the author’s style of writing appeal to you? Did you find it to be entertaining? Too brash?

I enjoyed her style of writing. It was a nice change from the cut and dry tone of similar motivational books I have read. The tone made it feel like she was speaking directly to you, which made the novel almost feel like being personally coached or mentored.

3. What did you think of the fact that the author ended each chapter with “Love Yourself”

I think I just kind of started jumping over this last one once I realized it was repeated at the end of each chapter. It is a good reminder though!

4. So far, have you made any changes in your own life based on the advice given in the book?

I would say I have already adopted two things.

Ask Yourself Why! I am fairly self- aware, but I have been trying even harder than usual to ask myself why I am about to say or doing something, particularly if it leans towards negative attitude. I am already catching myself more. This goes along with the section in which she discusses thinking about why you may dislike something and really break down your thought process.

Get rid of your stories! I have also been trying not to limit myself based on the own definition of my personality I have created over the years. Basically trying to let go of the grand declarations I make about myself to others.

Share your comments below!

Book Club Discussion: Better Than Before

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. If you could magically, effortlessly change a few habits, which habits would you pick? Why?

I would exercise regularly, meditate, remember to floss every day and wake up earlier. All these things are important to my overall health and also my ability to have a more productive day (besides flossing). They are also the habits that I struggle with the most!

2. Are you an Upholder, a Questioner, an Obliger, or a Rebel? Did the Four Tendencies help you gain a better understanding of your patterns of habit-formation?

I am an Upholder. I love to do lists, schedules and setting goals for myself. I learned more about other people’s habit formation than I think I did about my own. It helped me to realize not everyone is going to go about forming habits in the same way as me and I shouldn’t expect them to!

3. Have you ever found it easier to form a habit (for good or bad) when you were starting something new—when you were taking the first steps, when you had a clean slate?

Definitely! I’ve found the best time to start a new habit is when moving into a new place. Another great time for me is after coming back from a vacation. Taking advantage of a clean slate has really worked for me when starting new habits.

4. What are some of your treats—both healthy and unhealthy?

Naps, reading, browsing blogs, laying by the pool, organizing

Share your comments below!

Book Club Discussion: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. Consider the setting. Why do you think the author chooses to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.’s character?

I liked the island setting because I felt that A.J. didn’t quite fit there, He almost seemed to be a misfit in his own life. When I found out he quit school to start a bookstore with Nic things made a little more sense. I can picture him being a professor.. The island could certainly stand as a symbol for the way A.J. separated himself off from the world in general. It seems this was always his demeanor, but it worsened after Nic died. Maya’s entrance into his life reverses this and A.J. is able to open up and let people back in as she grows up.

2. Perhaps oddly, vampires are a recurring motif in the story: for example, when A.J.’s wife throws the vampire prom and when A.J. watches True Blood to court Amelia. What do you make of the references to vampires?

The vampires were a fun pop-culture inclusion that made the book a bit less stuffy. The fact that A.J. ends up liking True Blood more than he thought was a fun anecdote that added to his character development. It is interesting that in both cases it is the women in his life that force A.J. to step out of his comfort zone and accept gimmicky pop-culture tropes, something A.J. never would have done on his own.

3. Did you find Ismay’s motivations for stealing Tamerlane to be forgivable? How do you think she should pay for her crime? Why do you think Lambiase lets her off?

This was one of the only plot points in the book that I didn’t particularly like. It seems silly that Ismay would steal a book from A.J. when her husband is a successful author and they likely aren’t hurting for money. She likely felt that giving Maya’s mother an object to resell, rather than giving her cash, was somehow less terrible. Lambiase was right to let her off, so much time had passed and the truth would have opened up some wounds that were best left alone.

4. At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps “your whole life is determined by what store you get left in” (page 85). Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?

This is one of the quotes from the book that stuck out to me, particularly because it was something Maya pondered when she was very young. Even though it comes from a child’s thought process, it was a poignant statement. Life in general is happenstance, and I often think about how where you are and when can alter the course of your life.

5. How do you think the arrival of the e-reader is related to the denouement of the story? Is A.J. a man who cannot exist in a world with e-books? What do you think of e-books? Do you prefer reading in e- or on paper?

I don’t think I would have made this connection on my own, without the prompting of this question. It is a poetic way to think about the introduction of the e-reader into the story. Personally, I prefer physical books. I have used my sisters kindle a few times and it feels kind of odd. That being said, it is pretty convenient!

Explore Further! Author Interview

Questions by: Hello Book Lover & Lit Lovers

Book Club Discussion: The Rocks

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Rocks, by Peter Nichols. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. The Rocks is a novel that experiments with the chronology of storytelling, unfurling backward through time. What did you think about the way that time was handled in the narrative? Did it affect the way you related to the story and characters? Did it make the story feel more—or less—propulsive?

When I first started reading and noticed the dates at the beginnings of the sections, I thought that the story was going to jump back and forth between past and present. It actually took me a long time to realize the narrative was only moving backwards. It was an interesting way to read the story, because you had substantial insight into the outcomes of earlier events based on the characters relationships in the chapters set later in time at the beginning of the book. In a way this kind of ruined the momentum of the story for me, I felt like nothing major was really happening throughout the book and the chapters later in the book just filled in gaps set up at the beginning.

2. How did you interpret the ending with Luc and Aegina? Was it clear or ambiguous? Light or dark? How did you feel about the author’s decisions there?

I thought the ending between Luc and Aegina was wholly positive and fairly clear. Maybe I missed something, but I am not sure what about the end could be considered dark. It was interesting that they were unable to connect until the death of their parents, which in part, seemed to somewhat unconsciously hold them back throughout the book. I am glad that they seem like they are going to reconcile. It was sad to watch them spend their whole lives not really speaking due to a few miscommunications when they were young.

3. From the beginning of the book we understand that there is a secret at the foundation of Lulu and Gerald’s split, and that it may be based on a tragic misunderstanding. The book then spirals backward through time to get to that past secret. Were you surprised when you found out the truth? Was it what you expected? Were you satisfied?

Surprised, because I thought that the event that split up Gerald and Lulu was going to be much more serious. I was also expecting Gerald to be more at fault then he turned out to be. It seemed ridiculous to me that Lulu would think Gerald would leave her behind without a good reason, and I had trouble believing that she wouldn’t give him a chance to explain what happened. The whole thing, while certainly traumatic for Lulu, was a ridiculous miscommunication between the couple and was completely unsatisfying.

4. Consider the parallel relationships between Aegina and Luc, Lulu and Gerald. How are these two relationships similar, and how they are different? To what degree is Aegina and Luc’s relationship shaped by the dynamic between their parents?

As I mentioned in my answer to the earlier question, it is interesting that Luc and Aegina are unable to begin to reconcile until their parents have died. Similar to their parents, their relationship falls apart after a miscommunication in Morocco. Aegina does not give Luc a chance to explain and they break ties. I would argue that Luc’s transgression (sleeping with the German woman) was more serious than the what occurred between Lulu and Gerald, which was simply miscommunication. In both instances it seems the women are able to move on fairly easily, while the men pine and are unable to get over their lost loves.

Share your comments below!