WrightBrothersThe All Good Books group will meet this Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 7 PM at the Community of Christ Congregation, 7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS. We will discuss “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. The following are some suggested questions to kick off the discussion.

  1. How would you describe the Wright brothers; who was older? Describe their dress, work habits, politics and social skills?
  2. What did the author mean by saying that Katherine could turn “wrathy?”
  3. What did you discover about Wilbur and Orville’s father?
  4. Do you agree with Bishop Wright’s advice to his sons when he said, “It is assumed that young folks know best, and old folks are fogies. It may be so, but old folks may be as right about new fangles as young folks are about fogy ways. Make business first, pleasure afterward, and that guarded. All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others.” (Page 13-14)
  5. What’s your reaction to the story of Oliver Crook Haugh and Wilbur Wright? (Page 14) Were you aware of that part of Wilbur’s history?
  6. While many were in favor of the newfangled bicycle, other “voices were raised in protest. Bicycles were proclaimed morally hazardous. Until now children and youth were unable to stray very far from home on foot. Now, one magazine warned, fifteen minutes could put them miles away. Because of bicycles, it was said, young people were not spending the time they should with books, and more seriously that suburban and country tours on bicycles were ‘not infrequently accompanied by seductions.’” (Page 22) Do you see any parallels to technological advances in the late 20th Century and early 21st Century?
  7. What caused Wilbur to write to his Father, “In business it is the aggressive man, who continually has his eye on his own interest, who succeeds [he wrote]. Business is merely a form of warfare in which each combatant strives to get the business away from his competitors and at the same time keep them from getting what he already has. No man has ever been successful in business who was not aggressive, self-assertive and even a little bit selfish perhaps. There is nothing reprehensible in an aggressive disposition, so long as it is not carried to excess, for such men make the world and its affairs move. . . . I entirely agree that the boys of the Wright family are all lacking in determination and push. That is the very reason that none of us have been or will be more than ordinary businessmen.” (Page 24) Did Wilbur’s prediction hold true?
  8. The writings of Octave Chanute, a celebrated French-born American civil engineer (bridge and railroad builder) and Samuel Pierpont Langley, creator of the pilotless “aerodrome,” and backed by the Smithsonian, were helpful to the Wright brothers according to the author. How much of a debt do the Wright brothers owe to these pioneers? What do you remember about their relationships with each man?
  9. Have you heard stories that the Wright brothers were really not the first to succeed in human flight? How does the author treat these claims?
  10. According to the author, “All the same, and importantly, the times were alive with invention, technical innovations, new ideas of every kind. George Eastman had introduced the “Kodak” box camera; Isaac Merritt Singer, the first electric sewing machine; the Otis Company had installed the world’s first elevator in a New York office building; the first safety razor, the first mousetrap, the first motor cars built in America—all in the dozen years since Orville started his print shop and Wilbur emerged from his spell of self-imposed isolation.” (Page 35) Is that atmosphere of constant innovation past for America? Why or why not?
  11. How did the Wright brothers decide on Kitty Hawk as the location for their tests? What were they looking for? (Page 40). Where was Kitty Hawk located? Was that the hometown of the Wright brothers?
  12. Who or what were the “skeeters” that arrived on Kitty Hawk on July 18, 1901? (Page 58)
  13. Who stated in 1901, that “not in a thousand years would man ever fly…?” (Page 64)
  14. What events in the history of flight and the lives of Wilbur and Orville Wright were you surprised to discover from the book by McCullough?
  15. What momentous claim could John T. Daniels make? (page 106)
  16. On page 107 the author states, “incidentally, the Langley project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of it public money, whereas the brothers’ total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.” Is that kind of individually funded entrepreneurship possible today? Likely?
  17. Why do you think the U.S. War Department was so slow to show any interest in the Wright brother’s flying machine? (Page 122-123)
  18. Were you aware that Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, a twenty-six-year-old West Point graduate had flown with Orville and died in a crash that almost killed Orville? What are your thoughts on Selfridge and the incident? How badly injured was Orville? What caused the accident? (Page 190-192)
  19. When Wilbur started giving rides in his two-seater, what was the criterion for filling the empty seat? (Page 223)
  20. Were you surprised by the legal battles that ensued over the Wright brother’s patents? React to the following quote from McCullough’s “Epilogue.” “Of far the greatest importance to both (Wilbur and Orville)—more than the money at stake—was to secure just and enduring credit for having invented the airplane. It was their reputation at stake and that mattered most. Their pride of achievement, quite understandably, was great. Eventually nine suits were brought by them, three brought against them. Over time they won every case in the American courts.”

 

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Because several of the regular members of the All Good Books group cannot meet tonight, we’re postponing tonight’s meeting until Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 7 PM. Sorry for any inconvenience. We’ll discuss “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough on that date.

WrightBrothersThe next meeting of the All Good Books group will be at 7:00 PM on Thursday, May 18, 2017. We’ll discuss The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (suggested by several members).

Please note that this meeting is a week later than normal.

At this meeting we’ll also add books to fill out our 2017 schedule. Come prepared with your suggestions, or better yet, email Jonathan with your suggestions in advance.

The All Good Books group will meet to discuss “Two If By Sea” (by Jacquelyn Mitchard) on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 7 PM at Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS). We’ll meet in the Church Library.

two-if-by-sea-author
You can find additional information on the author at http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/10598-two-if-by-sea-mitchard (including a summary of the story, a bio of the author, and discussion questions).
You can find the same discussion questions at http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Two-If-by-Sea/Jacquelyn-Mitchard/9781501115585/reading_group_guide but that site also includes an interview with the author. The discussion questions and interview are both available in the back of the print or ebook version of the novel.
 
You can also signup at the www.simonandschuster.com site for their email list and receive a code for a free ebook.
 
Finally, you can see and hear Jacquelyn Mitchard talk about “Two If By Sea” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5q19oUQg30
We look forward to the discussion on Thursday and invite you to bring your suggestions for additional books to add to our reading schedule.

TwoifbySeaThe next meeting of the All Good Books discussion group will be on Thursday, April 13, 2017 (Thomas Jefferson’s birthday) at 7 PM in the community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) Church Library. The group will discuss “Two If By Sea” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Plan to join us next month.

We hope to add some discussion questions here in the next couple of weeks.

The All Good Books discussion group will meet Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 7 PM at the Community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) to discuss The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Come join us.

For those who have not yet read this month’s novel, here’s my personal (hopefully) non-spoiler assessment.

“The Nightingale” drags you vicariously through occupied France during the Second World War. It’s a story of starvation, benevolent occupation, sadistic power, constant fear, rebellion, the best of heroic humanity, the worst of collaboration, young love, mature love, the bonds of family and the disintegration of family. At times one wonders, why am I subjecting myself to the horrors and cruelty of war; yet all that pain is necessary to experience the sometimes bittersweet but truly emotional conclusion. Don’t be a “read the last page first” reader. This story needs to be built page by page to the finale that speaks to how we never really, fully understand the lives of others, with all their pain, triumphs and struggles.

The following are some suggested discussion questions.

  1. How would you describe “The Nightingale” to someone who might consider reading the novel? Would you recommend or not recommend the book?
  2. Do you see a reflection of yourself in any of the novel’s characters? Did you relate to any one character more than the others? Explain why?
  3. Why do you think the two sisters, Vianne and Isabella, react so differently to the Nazi occupation? How would you describe their personalities, concerns and reactions?
  4. Which scene or event in the novel did you find the most memorable (good or bad)? Explain why.
  5. The novel describes a community under harsh conditions; harsh winters, food shortages, fear, uncertainty, military bombardments, dissolution of families and friendships. How do you think you would have functioned and survived (or not) under such conditions? Have you ever experienced any of these types of situations? Describe.
  6. Do parents ever really know their children? Do children ever really know their parents?
  7. Is there a quote or statement in the novel that is a favorite? Or made you stop and consider it’s meaning? How about any of the following? Do they “speak” to you? If so, how?
    1. “In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”
    2. “…grief, like regret, settles into our DNA and remains forever a part of us.”
    3. “He loves a version of me that is incomplete. I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.”
    4. “Why was it so easy for men in the world to do as they wanted and so difficult for women?”
    5. “Tante Isabelle says it’s better to be bold than meek. She says if you jump off a cliff at least you’ll fly before you fall.”
    6. “He was a man who had stumbled into a little bit of power and seized it with both hands.”
    7. If you’re going through hell, keep going. —WINSTON CHURCHILL
    8. “But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”
    9. “Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war.”
  8. In one portion of the novel, the narrator says, “A stewardess takes one look at me and makes that here’s an old one who needs help face. Living where I do now, in that shoebox filled with the Q-tips that old people become, I’ve come to recognize it. Usually it irks me, makes me straighten my back and push aside the youngster who is sure that I cannot cope in the world on my own, but just now I’m tired and scared and a little help doesn’t seem like a bad thing.” Whether you’re old or young, have you ever felt that way?
  9. Why does the author keep referring to black squares on the walls?
  10. What is the meaning or significance of the apple tree in Vianne’s yard?
  11. Nathaniel and Phillipe come with a request about Daniel near the end of the book. Was it a fair request? Do you understand it? How would you have reacted if you were Daniel’s Maman?
  12. How did you react to the novel’s conclusion? Would you have changed the ending?

nightengaleThe All Good Books discussion group will meet Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 7 PM at the Community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS to discuss The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Possible discussion questions will be posted soon. Come join us.