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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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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Book Club Discussion: The Life We Bury

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. 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!

How did you experience the book? Were you immediately drawn into the story—or did it take you a while? Did the book intrigue, amuse, disturb, alienate, irritate, or frighten you?

It definitely took me a while to get into the book. I thought I knew who did it right away and I didn’t find out until near the end that I was wrong. I definitely wasn’t expecting all the crazy kidnapping that happened at the end so that brought me back into the story and made it more interesting.

What aspects of the novel did the author draw from to come up with the title for The Life We Bury?

All three of the main characters had something in their past they were trying to hide and and move on from. Even though they tried so hard to bury the past, all three of them ended up telling their secret and that seemed to help each of them move on.

Which character, if any, did you identify with the most? Why?

I can’t say I really identified with any of the characters. I was rooting for Joe throughout the story though.

How did you feel about the character of Carl Iverson when he was first introduced?

I was pretty sure he didn’t commit the murder right away since there wouldn’t have been much of a book plot if he had so I definitely felt sorry for him.

What would you say are Joe’s strongest character traits?

He valued family and was very committed even sometimes when he shouldn’t have, he was very determined; both to go to school despite his circumstances and exonerate Carl.  

Questions from author’s website.

Book Club Discussion: The Miniaturist

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. 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!

How would you describe the sense of place in The Miniaturist, and how does the novel present seventeenth century Amsterdam?

In the novel Amsterdam was far more rigid than I pictured it being when I studied the city and its  golden age of commerce during college. I was surprised about how gossipy and rule driven the city felt in the book, at least in Nella’s experience.

What does the gift of the cabinet house symbolise to Nella in terms of her marriage to Johannes and her own status?

While Johannes was trying to be kind, Nella took the gift of the doll house personally as a comment on her own age. She felt the gift was Johannes’s way of implying that she was a child and would enjoy childish things.

The Brandt household is full of secrets. Which made the biggest impression on you and why?

Marin’s room! The reveal of her curiosity filled room  was one of my favorite parts of the whole novel. It made me soften towards her character a bit after realizing she had a thirst for worldly knowledge and collecting. I have always loved the idea of curiosity cabinets, so it was fun that the concept was incorporated into the novel.

Did your attitude to the characters remain consistent throughout the novel, or did your loyalties shift as you kept reading? Which character provoked the strongest reaction from you?

I already mentioned my softening towards Marin as the book went on, but I never fully got on board with her character. It was fun to see Nella come into her own as the book went forward as she gained confidence and then finally, true control of the household.

Do you think the miniaturist is a magical force or a human one? What is the most important thing that Nella learns from her?

This aspect of the story was frustrating for me, as it bordered on magical realism but never truly or fully crossed the line into full on magic. I think the author intended that the magic/human explanation be difficult to figure out. I would lean more towards the human element, as it seems the miniaturist was always watching and Amsterdam is portrayed as a city where gossip travels fast.

Questions from http://www.picador.com/blog/february-2015/the-miniaturist-book-club-questions