Book Club Discussion: The Hopefuls

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. 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!

  • Who are the “hopefuls” in the title?
  • In the Washington, DC, of the novel, most people are from elsewhere—away from home and family. How does this contribute to the intensity of their relationships?
  • As a spouse who’s not particularly interested in politics, Beth feels like an outsider. What should she have done to find her own tribe—or does that seem impossible in the atmosphere the novel describes?
  • The theme of friendship also weaves through the story. Is Beth a good friend? Who is a better friend to her, Ash or Colleen?
  • On page 248, Colleen tells Beth, “ ‘I mean, every person expects something from the other one when they get married.’ ” What point is she making? Do you agree?
  • Discuss the final section of the novel, the postscript set in DC. Was it the ending you expected?

Questions from publisher’s website.

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Book Club Discussion: Big Magic

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. 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!

  • Can you think of a time you were courageous in your creative life? What did that look like for you? How did you feel? What inspired you to be courageous?
  • What do you think your daemon of creativity would look like? Grab some pen and paper and draw away!
  • Who, in your heart of hearts, are you? Who have you always secretly wanted to be? How does it feel to say it outloud?
  • Write down four fiercely creative goals and hang them up on your fridge!

Questions from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Inspiration Guide. 

 

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Book Club Discussion: The Nightingale

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. 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 does war change the way these characters love? How does love influence their actions in the war? On a personal level, has love affected your life choices? Have those choices affected who and how you love?
  • Why do you think Kristin Hannah chose to keep the narrator’s identity a secret in the beginning and end of the novel? Were you surprised by who it turned out to be? Did you go back and reread the beginning of the novel once you finished? Were you satisfied when you discovered who was narrating the novel?
  • The sisters Isabelle and Vianne respond to the war in very different ways. Isabelle reacts with anger and defiance, risking her life to join the resistance against Nazi occupation. Vianne proceeds with caution and fear, avoiding conflicts for the sake of her children. Who do you admire—or relate to, or sympathize with—more, Vianne or Isabelle? Discuss your reasons.  
  • Take a moment to talk about Beck. Is he a sympathetic character? Did you believe he was a good man, or was he just trying to seduce Vianne. Did he deserve his fate?

Questions from author’s website.

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Book Club Discussion: Lilac Girls

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. 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!

  • In what ways do you think the alternating points of view helped to enrich the narrative? Was there ever a time you when you wished there was only one narrator? Why or why not?
  • The primary settings of this novel are starkly different – Caroline’s glamorous New York world of benefits and cultural events, and the bleak reality of life in a concentration camp. In what ways did the contrast between these two settings affect your reading experience?
  • Caroline’s relationship with Paul is complicated, taboo even, was there ever a time when you didn’t agree with a choice Caroline made with regards to Paul? When and why?
  • Many of the themes explored in Lilac Girls – human rights, political resistance, survival – are a direct result of the historical WWII setting. How are those themes relevant to current events today?

Questions from author’s website.

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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 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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