Archives for posts with tag: All Good Books

The All Good Books group will meet on Zoom this Thursday evening, November 19, 2020 at 7:00 PM. To discuss “The Lending Library” by Aliza Fogelson.

Possible discussion questions include:

  1. How would you describe “The Lending Library” to a friend and would you recommend the novel?
  2. Have you read any of the books mentioned in “The Lending Library?” Are there any books mentioned that you’d like to read or have read?
  3. Dodie, the main character through whose voice much of the novel is narrated, seems to have numerous “irons in the fire.” What are they? Is she juggling too much or is that a realistic depiction of a young woman her age?
  4. How would you describe the relationship between Dodie, Maddie and Coco?
  5. Describe Maddie’s birthday meal with Dodie. What does it reveal about the two?
  6. Who is Benton and how does he tie in with the plot? Who are Kendra and Geraldine? What role did they play in the novel?
  7. Who are Sullivan and Elizabeth? What was their big disagreement about? What advice would you have given if you were their friend or parent?
  8. Who is Elmira? Does she play a significant role in the novel? She’s re-reading “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Have you read the book? Is there significance to its mention in the novel?
  9. Bridge to Terabithia” is mentioned in the novel. Why? Have you read the novel? What significance does it hold for the characters in “The Lending Library?”
  10. Who is Shep? What’s his story within the story?
  11. Who’s the most interesting character in the novel?
  12. Did you feel the characters in the novel were privileged, average, relatable, fanciful, realistic or stereotypical?
  13. Are there passages you underlined in the novel or re-read? Were there scenes that stuck with you? Please share.
  14. Describe the three sister’s meeting with “Not Dad.” How did you react to the meeting?
  15. Were you pleased, surprised, anxious or ho hum about the ending? Did you race to the ending or saunter along until you reached it?
  16. What is or has been your personal relationship to books and libraries?

The All Good Books club will meet on Thursday, May 12, 2016 to discuss Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove” at 7 PM in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS 66208).

Below are some possible discussion questions for our meeting:

  1. If you underlined or highlighted portions of the novel, share one of your favorite quotes.
  2. What events in the novel define Ove for you? How would you describe his worldview and work ethic? Do you know anyone like Ove?
  3. How would you describe Ove and Sonja’s relationship?
  4. Who are the Pregnant Foreign Lady, the Lanky One and their children? How did they meet Ove?
  5. Why do you think Ove’s three worst words are “batteries not included?”
  6. What do you think the narrator means by the following quote? “He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.”
  7. In describing Ove’s relationship with his father, the narrator says “They never had much, but they always had enough.” What does that mean to you? Have you heard that phrase before?
  8. Ove’s father, in one of the few topics he would talk about, said, “Engines give you what you deserve….If you treat them with respect they’ll give you freedom; if you behave like an ass they’ll take it from you.” How do you interpret that message?
  9. Ove’s father said, “We’re not the sort of people who tell tales about what others do.” What is the story behind the quote and how did it affect the person Ove became?
  10. Do you agree with Ove “men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say?”
  11. Discuss Ove’s opinions about quality, exchangeability, pride and expertise. Hint: he referred to “the unreserved celebration of mediocrity” and that “one should not go through life as if everything was exchangeable.”
  12. What role does the cat play in the novel? And what does Ove mean when he says, “I’m not running a cat repair company?”
  13. Why was it important that Ove feed the bird only every other day?
  14. Why do you think Sonja was attracted to Ove?
  15. Why did Ove have a hatred for the “men in white shirts?” Who are the “men in white shirts?”
  16. Why did Ove hate buses and decide to drive Parvaneh to the hospital rather than let her take a bus?
  17. Why does Nasanin always draw Ove with colored crayons while everyone else is drawn in black? Who is Nasanin?
  18. Why did Ove and Rune, who once were friends, become adversaries? What role did Rune’s purchase of a sporty BMW have in the separation?
  19. What does the narrator mean by the following quote? “Both men, once as close as men of that sort could be, stare at each other. One of them a man who refuses to forget the past, and one who can’t remember it at all.”
  20. How does Sonja find healing after the accident?
  21. What does the author mean by “all people at root are time optimists?”
  22. How is “loving someone…like moving into a house?” as Sonja used to say.
  23. What does the author mean by “broadly speaking there are two kinds of people. Those who understand how extremely useful white cables can be, and those who don’t?”
  24. Do you agree, “The greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone?”
  25. Why is Ove, as Parvaneh says, “UTTERLY LOUSY at dying?”
  26. What are your feelings about Ove’s final note to Parvaneh?
  27. Was the ending of the book expected? Emotional? Incomplete? Satisfying?
  28. Would you recommend A Man Called Ove to your friends to read? Why or why not?

Come join us on Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 7 PM.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 7:00 PM is the next meeting of the All Good Books club. We’ll discuss “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrick Backman.

The group meets at the Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation in the Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS). Everyone is welcome!

Here are some suggested discussion questions:

  1. How would you describe Elsa?
  2. How would you describe Elsa’s grandmother, Granny?
  3. Who is Britt-Marie and Kent and what relationship are they to Alf? Who is Lennart and Maud and how are they related to the other tenants? Who is the boy with the syndrome and his Mum? Who is the Monster (Wolfheart)? Who is Sam and is there a relationship between Sam and any of the other residents? Who is the woman in the black skirt? Who is Halfie? Who is wurse, Audi and Renault? What’s the relationship between Mum, Dad, George and Lisette?
  4. What do you remember about the Land-of-Almost-Awake? How do you travel to the land?
  5. What is the word jar? Who uses it and why?
  6. Is there a character that you personally identified with or who reminded you of someone you know? Tell us why.
  7. Is Elsa a believable almost 8-year old? Explain.
  8. What happened on the day Elsa was born? What philosophical question does her birth and the corresponding event raise?
  9. Who are in the photos on Granny’s ceiling?
  10. Is there a scene in the novel that had an emotional impact for you? Describe and explain why.
  11. Do you agree that the novel is part fairy tale and part adult story? Would you give it to a pre-teen to read? Why or why not?
  12. What do you view as the important themes of the novel?
  13. In a conversation on the phone, Elsa hears Granny say, ““I don’t want Elsa to know that I am going to die because all seven-year-olds deserve superheroes, Marcel. And one of their superpowers ought to be that they can’t get cancer.” Why are superpowers referenced and emphasized throughout the novel? Who has which superpowers?
  14. Granny says, ““It’s a grandmother’s prerogative never to have to show her worst sides to her grandchild, Elsa. Never to have to talk about what she was like before she became a grandmother.” Why does Granny say this and do you agree?
  15. Have you ever wanted to ask someone, like a parent or relative, a question and never got around to it until it was too late? How is that question related to the novel?
  16. What does the following quote mean? “Because not all monsters look like monsters. There are some that carry their monstrosity inside.”
  17. Would you like a grandmother like Granny? Why or why not?
  18. What is Granny sorry about?
  19. Do you have a favorite quote from the book?
  20. Would you recommend this book to someone else to read? Why or why not?
My_GrandmotherThe next meeting of the All Good Books discussion group will on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 7:00 PM to discuss “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrick Backman. The group meets at the Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation in the Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS).
You can always find information on the book club’s schedule, here, on their website at https://allbooksclub.wordpress.com.

The All Good Books discussion group will meet on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7 PM to discuss “The Children Act” by Ian McEwan. We will meet at the Community of Christ congregation in Prairie Village at the corner of 79th Street and Mission Road, in the church library.

To generate some pre-thinking for our discussion, please consider the following questions.

  1. Would you consider Fiona Maye a fair and impartial judge? Do you agree with her ruling in the case of Mark and Matthew? What about her decision regarding  Adam Henry? What, if anything, would you have done differently?
  2. Describe your impressions of Jack Maye. Do you understand his motivation throughout the novel? Would you have forgiven him?
  3. At one point, Fiona reflects on the case of Adam Henry, “It was not her business or mission to save him, but to decide what was reasonable and lawful.” Do you agree that is the role of a judge?
  4. What is your reaction to Fiona’s reminiscence regarding Matthew and Mark when she thinks: “Blind luck, to arrive in the world with your properly formed parts in the right place, to be born to parents who were loving, not cruel, or to escape, by geographical or social accident, war or poverty. And therefore to find it so much easier to be virtuous.” Thoughts?
  5. “Welfare, happiness, well-being must embrace the philosophical concept of the good life,” writes the author. What defines the good life for you?
  6. In Fiona’s thoughts she comments, “the archbishop preferred Mark to die along with Matthew in order not to interfere with God’s purpose. That churchmen should want to obliterate the potential of a meaningful life in order to hold a theological line did not surprise or concern her. The law itself had similar problems when it allowed doctors to suffocate, dehydrate or starve certain hopeless patients to death, but would not permit the instant relief of a fatal injection.” Do you see parallels in Fiona’s two examples? Is the issue black and white on preserving life? If not, what are the conditions or extenuating circumstances that should be considered?
  7. In some passages, like the following, the author is very descriptive. Is it too much? Did you enjoy the use of detail in language? Comment on the novel as an art form. “They entered a glassed-in atrium the height of the entire building. Mature native trees, rather starved, pushed hopefully upward from the concourse, from among the cheerful chairs and tables of competing coffee and sandwich concessions. Higher up, then even higher, other trees rose from concrete platforms cantilevered into the curving walls. The remotest plants were shrubs silhouetted against the glass roof three hundred feet up. The two women went across the pale parquet, past an information center and an exhibition of unwell children’s art. The long straight run of an escalator brought them to a mezzanine, where a bookshop, florist, newsagent, gift shop and business center were ranged around a fountain. New Age music, airy and unmodulating, merged with the sound of tinkling water. The model was, of course, the modern airport. With altered destinations. At this level there was little sign of illness, none of medical equipment. The patients were finely spread between visitors and staff. Here and there were people in dressing gowns, looking rakish.”
  8. Did you feel the pain of Fiona in her personal crisis with Jack? How did it affect her role as judge? Or did it? If you had been Fiona, would you have acted differently as a wife or spouse? As a judge?
  9. If you were Adam Henry’s parents, what would you have done? How would you feel about Fiona’s judgment?
  10. What was the meaning of the kiss?
  11. How would you describe this book? A walk in the park? A doctoral thesis? A love story? Enlightening? Boring? A roller coaster ride? A legal thriller? An artwork in words?
  12. Would you recommend the book to other readers? To other book clubs?

TruthAccordingToUs

January Book Club Selection

The All Good Books discussion group will meet on Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 7:00 PM to discuss The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows at the Community of Christ church (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS).

Here are a few suggested discussion questions for the novel:

  1. Who is your favorite character in the novel? Describe your favorite character and share why you chose that character.
  2. Why do you think the author/publisher chose the title for this novel? Would you have selected a different title? If so, what?
  3. Between Jottie, Mae and  Minerva, they are always sharing an old saw (conventional wisdom) with Willa and Bird. Some of the sayings include: “idle hands are the devil’s playground,””least said, soonest mended,””Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive,” “discretion is the better part of valor,” “Rightness is nothing. You can’t live on it. You might as well eat ashes,” and “hatred is a poor bone to chew.” Have you heard these sayings before? What do they mean to you?
  4. Layla in a letter to her brother Lance writes, “I’ve been thinking about history a good deal in the past few weeks, and I believe it fails when it offers only a tepid recitation of events and dates. A successful history is one that captures the living heat of opinion and imagination and ancient grudge.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  5. As Miss. Betts reads some of Layla’s draft history, she comments, “All of us see a story according to our own lights. None of us is capable of objectivity. You must beware your sources.” What did she mean?
  6. At the point in the novel when Jottie is thinking about whether to continue her relationship with Sol, she thinks, “The past was the only thing that really existed; there could be no future that was not based on the past. She had to choose one side or the other, and the side she chose had to be Felix’s.” How did you react to Jottie’s decision at that point in the novel?
  7. Is there a scene in the story that you found especially endearing?
  8. Is there a scene in the book that your found especially tragic?
  9. At one point, Willa is trying to comprehend the world around her and thinks, “In books, even in books like The Beautiful and Damned, things were connected; people did something and then something else happened because of that. I could understand them. But outside, here in the real world, things seemed to happen for no reason that I could see. Maybe there was no reason. Maybe people just drifted here and there, aimless and silly. But no, people had been thrown out of the Garden of Eden for knowing, so there must be something to know, reasons, all the time and everywhere, for the way they behaved. Reasons I couldn’t see yet, no matter how hard I tried.” Any reactions to her quandary?
  10. The novel repeatedly returns to an exploration of the nature of history such as when Layla writes, “I’ve learned that history is the autobiography of the historian, that ignoring the past is the act of a fool, and that loyalty does not mean falling into line, but stepping out of it for the people you love.” Did the novel generate any personal thoughts about the nature of recorded history? Any thoughts you’d like to share?
  11. Do you believe that Sol really loved Jottie? Why?
  12. Can you understand and justify why Felix did what he did? Explain.
  13. How would you describe Layla and Felix’s relationship? Did you see it coming? Did you expect the resolution offered by the author?
  14. If you were to write a sequel to the novel, what would happen next?
  15. How would you describe the book? Was it like a roller-coaster ride? A stroll through the park? A run-away train? A 10th grade history text book?

The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

The Pulse of Hope by Dr. William A. Reed

Just a reminder: Dr. William A. Reed with be present at the next All Good Books discussion group meeting this Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Community of Christ church (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) at 7 PM. We will meet in the Church Library.

Dr. Reed is the author of “The Pulse of Hope: A Surgeon’s Memoirs from Poverty to Prosperity.” Dr. Reed was a pioneer in the early days of open-heart surgery at KU Medical Center then later moved to St. Luke’s Hospital where he performed the first heart transplant at that hospital while serving as Director of Thoracic Surgery. Still later he returned to KU Med to re-establish what has become the largest heart program in this part of the country. The autobiography answers the question “How did a scrawny kid from an indigent, welfare-dependent Midwestern family become one of America’s first successful heart surgeons?”

Along the way the reader meets a passionate horseman, philanthropist, husband, father and poet. The final chapters in the book also speak to issues of faith, doubt, fear and leadership. You have the opportunity to hear him speak and ask questions on Thursday evening.  We hope you can join us.

In preparation for the meeting, here are some questions that might stimulate your reflection on the book (and if you haven’t read the book, come anyway)!

  1. On page 25 of Dr. Reed’s autobiography, he mentions Hudson’s Secret Journal. Have you read the book? Either way, do you agree with your understanding of its philosophy?
  2. On page 40 Dr. Reed discusses his wife’s childhood, her parent’s (Asay and Pauline) expectations, and their approach to parenting. How does their parenting compare to your own experiences as a child or young adult?
  3. What does the phrase “damned by faint praise” mean? Have you heard that phrase before or experienced that kind of praise?
  4. On page 59, Dr. Reed talks about “the silent treatment.” Have you experienced the silent treatment from someone in your life or used it as a tool in a disagreement? What were the results?
  5. An incident recorded on page 65, describes how Dr. Reed challenges the head of the cardiovascular department at KUMC to not “close” after heart surgery but to redo a stitch so a 6-year-old girl’s heart would not develop scarring. If your career depended on contradicting or correcting a superior, could you do it?
  6. Of all the surgical stories in the autobiography, which is your favorite? Which did you find most emotional or heart-rending? Which did you find most inspirational?
  7. Who do you think was the VIP patient mentioned on page 81?
  8. Reed places a great deal of emphasis on “good mentoring” (pages 112, 114). Have you ever experienced a “good mentor” as described by the Doctor?
  9. The concept of a “unique calling” for medicine is discussed on pages 114-115. Do you believe that any of the five “opportunities” listed on page 114 apply to other fields of endeavor?
  10. On page 116 in a discussion of mentoring, Dr. Reed talks about seeing people at their most vulnerable time. Do you see any parallels to your career or avocation?
  11. On page 122, Dr. Reed discusses “the secret of success is constancy of purpose” (Benjamin Disraeli). What is your reaction to his message on career choice? Does it apply to you?
  12. Reed explains that a good racehorse must excel while “mud and dirt and sand” are being thrown in the horse’s face (page 130). Is there a parallel in human endeavor?
  13. Is there a section or chapter of the autobiography that you found more interesting than the rest? Such as Dr. Reed’s childhood, “The Right Girl,” his ground-breaking surgeries, the chapter on mentoring, “Servant Leader,” or “Poet and Philosopher?”
  14. The author talks about the difference between horses that have an attitude and those that are mean (page 150). Do you think the same applies to pets? To humans?
  15. What does the author (page 150) mean by “no trainer ever commits suicide with an unraced two-year-old in his barn?”
  16. On pages 186-189, Dr. Reed explains his approach to leadership. Do you support his view? Do you see inherent problems with servant leadership? Have you ever worked for anyone who subscribed to this leadership style?
  17. What do you think is meant (page 213) by “optimism is a life skill that can be honed with practice.”
  18. On page 216, Dr. Reed says, “Every man dies alone with his God.” What does that sentiment mean to you?
  19. Do you understand the doubts and questions expressed on pages 216-218? Do you believe that faith can grow through doubt?
  20. Do you have answers for the questions posed in Dr. Reed’s poem on page 219?
  21. In the final chapter, “Poet and Philosopher,” the author becomes very philosophical and poetic as he discusses life span, living in harmony with your values, faith and pain, and the search for meaning and hope. What are your thoughts on the final chapter?

Aviator's WifeThe next meeting of the All Good Books Club is at 7:00 PM, this Thursday, January 15, 2015 at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive, Leawood, KS) to discuss  “The Aviator’s Wife” by Melanie Benjamin.

Unless you’re already familiar with more than the typically brief “history book” version of the Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh story, you will probably learn far more than you want to know in Benjamin’s well researched novel.  Much has been written on Lindbergh and most American’s think they know his history, but in most cases that “knowledge” is superficial (see http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-fascinating-facts-about-charles-lindbergh and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lindbergh/sfeature/fallen.html for a sampling of little know facts).

A few questions that might generate discussion for Thursday night’s meeting:

  1. What is the most significant fact or event in the life of Charles Lindbergh that you didn’t know prior to reading The Aviator’s Wife?
  2. What is the most significant fact or event in the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh that you didn’t know prior to reading The Aviator’s Wife?
  3. Why do you think that Anne Morrow married Charles Lindbergh? Why do you think Charles married Anne?
  4. What’s your reaction to the Lindbergh’s parenting skills and methods?
  5. Describe the marital relationship between Anne and Charles. Why did it work? What didn’t work?
  6. What clue does the following quote offer about the role of women in the 1930s-1950s? Does the quote apply today? “I was Mom. I was Wife. I was Tragedy. I was Pilot. They all were me, and I, them. That was a fate we could not escape, we women; we would always be called upon by others in a way men simply never were. But weren’t we always, first and foremost —woman? Wasn’t there strength in that, victory, clarity— in all the stages of a woman’s life?” – page 340.
  7. The author suggests “JEALOUSY IS A TERRIBLE THING. It keeps you up at night, it demands tremendous energy in order to remain alive, and so you have to want to feed it, nurture it—and by so wanting, you have to acknowledge that you are a bitter, petty person. It changes you.” – page 333. Do you agree or disagree? How was Anne changed?
  8. How has your view of Lindbergh changed as a result of reading The Aviator’s Wife?

We hope you’ll join us on Thursday evening!