RESCHEDULED: The All Good Books group will meet on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 7 PM to discuss “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. The book club will meet in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Mission, Kansas). All are invited to attend.

Discussion questions for the novel are available at https://www.readinggroupguides.com/reviews/little-fires-everywhere/guide.

The Thursday, September 19, 2019 All Good Books group meeting will discuss “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. We’ll meet at 7 pm in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas).

Some possible discussion questions on the novel follow:

  1. Would you recommend “Where the Crawdads Sing” to a fellow reader? Why and how would you describe it (romance, coming of age, murder mystery)?
  2. On the first page of the novel, the narrator states, “A swamp knows all about death, and doesn’t necessarily define it as tragedy, certainly not a sin.” What’s the general and specific meaning of that passage?
  3. What was Kya’s greatest concern and handicap? Why?
  4. Early in the reading of the novel, did you consider the death of one of the characters an accident or murder? If the latter, who did you initially suspect was the murderer? Did your prime suspect change as you read the novel?
  5. Why was it important for the narrator to tell the reader Kya’s history (childhood) as well as the history of the marsh people?
  6. In what ways was Tate, Kya’s hero? Her betrayer?
  7. Tate’s dad, Scupper, told him that “the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.” Do you agree? How would you add or subtract from that definition?
  8. Why was Pa abusive to his wife and children? What event in his life did the narrator suggest contributed to his violent anger? What’s your reaction to Pa’s response to the event?
  9. As Kya learns to read, she encounters a sentence that reads “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” Her response to the sentence is spoken in a whisper, “I wadn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.” What does she mean and what meaning do you think she found in the sentence?
  10. Describe the relationship between Kya and Chase? What was Chase’s motivation to be with Kya? Why did he always wear the shell necklace around his neck?
  11. Amanda Hamilton’s poetry is sprinkled throughout the novel. What was significant about Hamilton’s poetry?
  12. The final Hamilton poem in the novel is “The Firefly.” What is it’s significance?
  13. What is the meaning of the novel’s title? Where is the place where the crawdads sing?
  14. How important is “nature” to the structure, meaning and plot of the novel? 
  15. Are the characters and storyline in the novel believable? Realistic?
  16. Were you happy with the ending of the story?

The All Good Books club will meet on Thursday, August 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) to discuss Kevin Kwan’s “China Rich Girlfriend” the second novel in his Crazy Rich Asian’s trilogy.

All are invited, whether you’ve read the book or not.

Discussion questions (#1-9 below) are drawn from the LitLovers website and may be useful in generating discussion. I’ve also added a few more question (#10 and beyond).

  1. Consider the book’s title: what does “China rich” mean? How is it different (or is it…?) from “Singapore rich” where Crazy Rich Asians (CRA) takes place?
  2. Like the previous book, China Rich Girlfriend is filled with jaw-dropping opulence. Which incident, or which character, dropped your jaw more than others?
  3. In what way do Rachel and Nick serve as (somewhat) objective observers into this world of crazy conspicuous consumption? To what degree are their values different from the characters who live in Asia? Do they exude a sense of superiority over the others?
  4. Poor Rachel has her trouble with secondary mothers: Eleanor, her future mother-in-law, and Shaoyen, her step-mother. Both make life difficult for Rachel. How do their attitudes change and are those changes genuine?
  5. Talk about the ins & outs of Rachel’s relationship with her half-brother Carlton.
  6. What do you make of Kitty Pong, her social climbing and attempts to fit in with the Straits Chinese? Is she a sympathetic character?
  7. How have events transformed Astrid’s husband, Michael? Is he due a “comeuppance?”
  8. Overall, what do you think of these characters? Is Kevin Kwan presenting them critically, satirically, lovingly, humorously? All or none of those?
  9. Is there a take-away from this novel and, if you’ve read Crazy Rich Asians, from that novel as well? If so, what? Or are these books simply one of those guilty pleasures that one loves to indulge in?
  10. What do you think is the attraction of the Crazy Rich Asians series? What attracted you to read the book?
  11. Did you imagine that there were people in China, Hong Kong and Singapore with the wealth depicted in the story?
  12. How would you describe Eleanor, Nick‘s mother? Does she change over the course of the first two novels? How?
  13. What are the advantages and drawbacks of marrying into wealth like Kitty Pong or Rachel Chu? Are the trade-offs worth it? would you make different choices in their shoes?
  14. Does Rachel change over the course of the first two books in the series? How?
  15. Are you intrigued to read the third novel? Why or why not? What questions for you remain unanswered?
  16. Which of the first two books did you enjoy more? Why?

The All Good Books book club will discuss Elizabeth Berg’s Night of Miracles on Thursday, July 18, 2019. The meeting will be held in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas) at 7 PM. All are invited to attend.

Sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv.

Discussion questions are available on the publisher’s website.

The publisher’s description of the book follows:

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off one big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community–just when they need it the most.

We hope you can join us for this book club discussion.

The All Good Books book club will discuss Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv” this Thursday, June 20, 2019. The meeting will be held in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas) at 7 PM. All are invited to attend.

The novel is described (on http://www.Goodreads.com) as: A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.

Discussion questions for The Story of Arthur Truluv are available on the publisher’s website.

The All Good Books group will meet on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 7 PM in the Community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas) Church Library to discuss “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan. This meeting date is one week later than normal in the month.

The publisher has provided discussion questions that are available online.

The book club’s schedule is also available at online and includes books to be discussed and meeting dates.

The All Good Books group will meet this Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 7 PM to discuss Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. We’ll meet in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS). All are invited.

The following discussion questions are from the publisher’s website. If you haven’t finished the novel, beware: some spoilers follow.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. At the beginning of the novel, Madeline is enraged over Ziggy not being invited to Amabella’s birthday party. Why do you think Madeline becomes so angry about such a seemingly small injustice? Do you think Madeline is the kind of person who just looks for a fight, or do you think she was justified in feeling so upset? And do you think that by tackling both ends of the spectrum —from schoolyard bullying and parents behaving badly in the playground  to displays of domestic violence in all its incarnations—that the author is trying to say something about the bullying that happens out in the open every day?
  2. There is a lot of discussion about women and their looks.  On the beach Jane’s mom shows that she has rather poor body image.  Jane observes that women over 40 are constantly talking about their age.  And Madeline says, “She didn’t want to admit, even to herself, just how much the aging of her face really did genuinely depress her. She wanted to be above such superficial concerns. She wanted to be depressed about the state of the world….” [p. 82] Do you think this obsession with looks is specific to women, particularly women of a certain age?   Why or why not?
  3. There are a lot of scenes in which the characters say they wish they could be violent: Jane says she wants to throw Ziggy into the wall when he has a tirade in the bathtub, that she would hit Renata if she was in front of her, and then she stops just short of kicking Harper.  Do you think the author is trying to show the reader Perry’s side and have us sympathize with him? Or, rather, that feeling violent is a natural impulse but one that people learn to suppress?
  4. When Ziggy has to do his family tree, Madeline comments, “Why try to slot fractured families into neat little boxes in this day and age?” [p. 184] A lot of Madeline’s storyline is about the complications that arise from the merging of new modern families. What kind of problems exist among families and extended families now that didn’t when you were a child?
  5. When Jane recounts what happened the night she got pregnant, she focuses on what the man said rather than on what he did.  Why does Jane feel more violated by two words – fat and ugly—than by the actual assault?   Jane seems to think the answer is “Because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.” [p. 196] Do you agree?
  6. The power of secrets is a theme throughout the novel. Jane remembers, “She hadn’t told anyone. She’d swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.” [p. 220] Do you think this is a universal truth, that the more you keep something secret, the more power it takes on?
  7. Gwen, the babysitter, seems to be the only one to suspect what is going on with Celeste and Perry.  Celeste then realizes she’s never heard Gwen talk about a husband or a partner. Do you think the author intended to intimate that perhaps Gwen had had an abusive husband or partner and that she left him?  And in light of what happens at the end with Bonnie, do you think it’s only people who have personally experienced abuse who pick up on the signs?
  8. At one point Jane thinks she and Ziggy will have to leave Pirriwee because “rich, beautiful people weren’t asked to leave anywhere.” [p. 362] Do you think different rules apply to rich people? Do you think being rich allowed Perry to get away with things longer than would have been likely if he hadn’t had money?
  9. Bonnie says, “We see. We f**king see!” [p. 421] Were you surprised to learn about Bonnie’s history?  Were you surprised to discover that all along Max had been seeing what Perry was doing to Celeste?
  10. What did you make of the interview snippets to the reporter? Do you think the author used them almost like a Greek chorus to make a point?
  11. Madeline muses, “Maybe it was actually an unspoken instant agreement between four women on the balcony: No woman should pay for the accidental death of that particular man.  Maybe it was an involuntary, atavistic response to thousands of years of violence against women.  Maybe it was for every rape, every brutal backhanded slap, every other Perry that had come before this one.” [p. 430] And then Madeline thinks, “ Sometimes doing the wrong thing was also right.” Do you agree with this statement?  Do you agree with what the women decided to do?  Do you think there’s a stronger bond between women than there is between men?  Were you surprised that women who ostensibly didn’t like one another—Madeline and Bonnie, Madeline and Renata—ended up coming together to help one another out?
  12.  At one point in the book, Susi says that, in Australia, one woman dies every week because of domestic violence.  In the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.  Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten.  Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than that caused by car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.  Are you surprised by these statistics? Why or why not?  Clearly, the author chose Celeste—the picture-perfect mom and/ wife as well as an educated lawyer—to be the victim of domestic violence in order to make a point.  Do you think it’s plausible that someone like her would fall victim to abuse such as this? 
  13. Madeline comments that “there were so many levels of evil in the world.” [p. 433] Discuss the implications of this statement in light of the novel and the novel’s different storylines.