Archives for posts with tag: books

The All Good Books club will meet in person (at 7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) and online using the Zoom weblink https://tinyurl.com/AllGoodBooks-Wiggins

At 7:00 PM, on Thursday, January 17, 2022, the book club will discuss The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs. Jonathan Bacon will facilitate the discussion.

The publisher describes the book this way:

Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, there was a book that embodied exactly the things she was worried about.

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits her mother’s charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco. She also becomes caretaker for her ailing grandfather Andrew, her only living relative—not counting her scoundrel father.

But the gruff, deeply kind Andrew has begun displaying signs of decline. Natalie thinks it’s best to move him to an assisted living facility to ensure the care he needs. To pay for it, she plans to close the bookstore and sell the derelict but valuable building on historic Perdita Street, which is in need of constant fixing. There’s only one problem–Grandpa Andrew owns the building and refuses to sell. Natalie adores her grandfather; she’ll do whatever it takes to make his final years happy. Besides, she loves the store and its books provide welcome solace for her overwhelming grief.

After she moves into the small studio apartment above the shop, Natalie carries out her grandfather’s request and hires contractor Peach Gallagher to do the necessary and ongoing repairs. His young daughter, Dorothy, also becomes a regular at the store, and she and Natalie begin reading together while Peach works.

To Natalie’s surprise, her sorrow begins to dissipate as her life becomes an unexpected journey of new connections, discoveries, and revelations, from unearthing artifacts hidden in the bookshop’s walls to discovering the truth about her family, her future, and her own heart.

Here are questions suggested by the publisher and borrowed from LitLovers (https://www.litlovers.com/):

  1. After her mother dies, Natalie reflects: “No one knew what to say to people facing grief so big and shocking. Natalie wouldn’t know, either.” Is there a right thing to say in these moments? What would you do if Natalie were your friend?
  2. “There was a book for everything. Somewhere in the vast Library of the Universe, as Natalie thought of it, her mom could find a book that embodied exactly the things Natalie was worried about.” Which books have helped you overcome difficult moments, or been a cure for your worries, or caused a revelation in your life? How do books help the different characters in this novel?
  3. At Blythe’s funeral, her friend Frieda reads a passage from the children’s book Charlotte’s Web. If you could have any book be part of your memorial service, what would it be?
  4. Natalie tells her mother that her schoolmates’ reaction to her non-traditional family—a single mother, grandfather, and grandfather’s Chinese girlfriend—makes her feel like a”freak.” How did growing up in this non-traditional family shape Natalie? How did being raised by a single father shape her mother Blythe’s life? What about Peach and Dorothy?
  5. When Natalie finds out that her mother had taken a DNA test she thinks to herself: “Who were her ancestors? Oftentimes throughout her life, she’d felt like a stranger to herself. Was that the reason?” Does learning more about her family history—though the DNA test and other ways—help Natalie or Grandy Andrew? Do you know anyone who has had a similar experience uncovering their family history, either by DNA tests or more traditional methods?
  6. Blythe finds running the bookstore “a grand adventure” but Natalie’s corporate work at the winery: “…was the opposite of a grand adventure. But then she would remind herself about the steady salary, the benefits, and the pension plan, and decide it was all worthwhile. Stability had its price.” Are you more of a Blythe or a Natalie in your approach to work? Does Natalie ultimately change her mind and come to accept the “grand adventure” of being a bookstore owner?
  7. “Your mother used to say you’ll never be happy with what you want until you can be happy with what you’ve got,” Cleo tells Natalie. Do you agree? What does Susan Wiggs say about happiness throughout this novel? What does it mean that Grandy Andrew’s book about his life is called “A Brief History of Happiness?”
  8. When they find the military medal hidden in the store’s walls, Grandy insists that they return it to the owner’s heirs despite their shaky financial situation: “After learning of its value, Andrew had toyed for the briefest of moments with the notion of selling it. But there was no profit in keeping something that rightfully belonged to someone else.”Would you have done the same?
  9. When Trevor confesses the truth about his background to Natalie, admitting that he’s a”fraud” and a “hoax,” she tells him “For what it’s worth, it wouldn’t have mattered…I love what you’ve done with your life. You turned it into something really beautiful.” Would you have responded the same way? What did you think about Trevor once his deceptions had been revealed?
  10. At the end of the novel, Susan Wiggs gives us an update on the characters’ lives. What do you think the future holds for Natalie and Peach? For Grandy Andrew? For the Lost and Found Bookstore itself?
  11. Do you have a favorite local bookstore? What do you love about it?
    (Questions issued by the publishers.)
  12. WHAT IS IT ABOUT BOOKSTORES? Why do you think so many authors use them as settings for their novels?
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The All Good Books club will meet in person (at 7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) and online using the Zoom weblink http://tiny.cc/Lui-Enough

At 7:00 PM, on Thursday, November 17, 2022, the book club will discuss Enough About Me by Richard Lui, Jonathan Bacon will facilitate the discussion.

What if your path to a more successful, healthy, and satisfying life is actually not about you? Enough About Me equips you with practical tools to find meaning and compassion in even the smallest of everyday choices.

When his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Richard Lui made a tough decision. The award-winning news anchor decided to set aside his growing career to care for his family. At first, this new caregiving lifestyle did not come easily for Lui, and what followed was a seven-year exercise in what it really means to be selfless.

Enough About Me also takes a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s most difficult moments from a journalist’s point of view. From survivors of terrorist attacks to victims of racial strife, Lui shares the lessons he learned from those who rose above the fray to be helpful, self-sacrificing, and generous in the face of monumental tragedy and loss.

Lui shares practical tips, tools, and mnemonics learned along the way to help shift the way we think and live.

December: No book club, December Break

In 2024, one of the first books we’ll discuss is The Lost and Found Book Shop by Susan Wiggs.

This evening’s meeting has been postponed to October 20, 2022, at 7 PM because many of our regular members are unavailable to meet this evening. All book titles will be moved forward one month to accommodate.

The All Good Books club will meet in person (at 7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) or online using the Zoom web link (https://tinyurl.com/lastBoat) to discuss Helen Zia’s novel Last Boat Out of Shanghai.

The discussion will occur (now) on Thursday, October 20, 2022, at 7 PM CDT.

The book recounts the real-life stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist revolution. Marge Trinkl will facilitate the discussion. Join us in person or online!

If you’re now planning ahead for November, the book club will meet on November 17, 2022, at 7 PM to discuss Enough about Me by Richard Lui.

The All Good Books group will meet on Thursday, August 18, 2022, at 7:00 PM to discuss The Duchess by Wendy Holden. The meeting will also be accessible on Zoom using this web link: https://tinyurl.com/AllGoodBooksDuchess

Eloise Snider will facilitate the discussion and all are welcome.

Here’s the Publisher’s summary of the historical novel:

It was a love so strong, a king renounced his kingdom—all for that woman. Or was she just an escape route for a monarch who never wanted to rule? Bestselling author Wendy Holden takes an intimate look at one of the most notorious scandals of the 20th century.

  1. A middle-aged foreigner comes to London with average looks, no money and no connections. Wallis’s first months in the city are lonely, dull and depressing. With no friends of her own she follows the glamorous set in magazines and goes to watch society weddings. Her stuffy husband Ernest’s idea of fun, meanwhile, is touring historic monuments.

When an unexpected encounter leads to a house party with the Prince of Wales, Wallis’s star begins to rise. Her secret weapon is her American pep and honesty. For the prince she is a breath of fresh air. As her friendship with him grows, their relationship deepens into love. Wallis is plunged into a world of unimaginable luxury and privilege, enjoying weekends together at his private palace on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Wallis knows the fun and excitement can’t last. The prince will have to marry and she will return to Ernest. The sudden death of George V seems to make this inevitable; the Prince of Wales is now King Edward VIII. When, to her shock and amazement, he refuses to give her up–or recognize that they are facing impossible odds–her fairy tale becomes a nightmare. The royal family close ranks to shut her out and Ernest gives an ultimatum.

Wallis finds herself trapped when Edward insists on abdicating his throne. She can’t escape the overwhelming public outrage and villainized, she becomes the woman everyone blames—the face of the most dramatic royal scandal of the twentieth century.

The All Good Books group will meet on Thursday, July 21, 2022, at 7:00 PM to discuss “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Tom Jowett will introduce the discussion). All meetings are held in the Church Library of the Mission Road Congregation of Community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS).

The book club meeting will also be available on Zoom using the following web link: https://tinyurl.com/AllGoodBooks

This is a joint activity by the Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation and the Johnson County Community College Retirees Association. All are welcome!

The All Good Books group will meet on the following dates for the rest of the year and discuss the books listed. All meetings are held in the Church Library of the Mission Road Congregation of Community of Christ (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS)

7:00 PM, June 16, 2022: How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith (Jane Landrum will introduce the book)

7:00 PM, July 21, 2022: Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta (Tom Jowett will introduce the book)

7:00 PM, August 18, 2022: The Duchess by Wendy Holden (Eloise Snider will introduce the book)

7:00 PM, September 15, 2022: The Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia (Marge Trinkl will introduce the book)

7:00 PM, October 20, 2022: Enough about Me by Richard Lui (Jonathan Bacon will introduce the book)

7:00 PM, November 17, 2022: The Lost and Found Book Shop by Susan Wiggs (TBD)

December: No book club, December Break

The All Good Books group will resume meeting (after a long hiatus due to COVID) on May 19, 2022, at 7:00 PM in the Church Library of the Community of Christ Mission Road Congregation (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS). Jane Landrum is the new facilitator for the group with Jonathan Bacon assisting.

For the first meeting, everyone is invited to share a book report, a quote, or an interesting idea from the best, most recent book you’ve read.

Bring a friend, and come prepared to just talk about books for an hour or so and learn what everyone else has been reading!

Book club members (during our hiatus) have suggested several book titles that might be good reading and excellent discussion material. The titles are listed below with links to Goodreads (for descriptions).

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Dear Grace by Clare Swatman

Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi (couldn’t find on Goodreads, so this link is to Amazon)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Radical Kindness by by Angela C. Santomero

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Happy reading!

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 group will meet using Zoom at 7 PM this Thursday, July 16, 2020 to discuss The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce. It’s the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Here’s a brief list of characters in the Queenie novel. Twenty-four possible discussion questions follow.

  • Queenie Hennessy: writer of letters to Harold Fry
  • Harold Fry: the walker whose story is told in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
  • David Fry: He likes unexpected adventure, very smart. “His intelligence is like a knife” (page 118).
  • Napier: Harold and Queenie’s boss at the brewery.
  • Finty – rubs off foil seals to see if she has won a vacation or prize or free vouchers for dining. Coordinates the party for the arrival of Harold Fry.
  • Mr. Neville Henderson – won’t do crossword puzzles, because he may not be around for the answers. “The knuckles poked out and his sleeves hung loose as if Mr. Henderson had no more substance than a coat hanger inside a dogtooth jacket. His mouth was so blue, the lips looked bruised.” He stole a Purcell record and likes Queenie. His wife Mary, hired his best friend as her divorce lawyer. They “took him to the cleaners.”
  • Barbara: Has two glass eyes, Albert Bates once loved her.
  • The Pearly King: receives packages but almost never opens them. Says a lot of women loved him, hope they don’t all come to visit. Has an artificial arm. Never told his family he was in hospice.
  • Sister Philomena: very spiritual nun at the hospice.
  • Sister Lucy: youngest nun, naive, most active of nuns in helping patients, kind, puzzles puzzle her, no idea of distance from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • Sister Catherine: nosey but always helps Mr. Henderson even when he doesn’t want help. Brought the word of Harold’s phone call to residents of the hospice. She brings in the mail bag each day.
  • Sister Mary Inconnu: (Inconnu means “an unknown person or thing”). Types the letters to Harold for Queenie.
  • The Lonely Gentleman: shows up in the Harold Fry story and on page 58.

Possible Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you describe “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” to a friend to encourage them to read it? Would you encourage them to read it?
  2. Are there specific passages that you underlined in the book? If so, what are they? Why do they have significance for you?
  3. How do you imagine the novel be received and interpreted by a teenager? By someone in mid-life? Or by a senior?
  4. Does your view of Queenie and Harold change as you read “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy?” How?
  5. Can “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” stand on its own? Would it be understood without the reader first reading “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?”
  6. On page 56 Queenie says, “I don’t know why some of these memories must remain so crystal clear. I recall one sliver and the whole picture comes rushing back, while other things, for instance, other things I would like to remember, are completely unavailable.” Why do you think that happens? Do you have a similar experience?
  7. Why was Mr. Henderson so upset with Sister Catherine? See page 72.
  8. Queenie’s mother told her (page 74), “There is no such thing as love at first sight. People get together because the time is right.” Do you agree?
  9. What is bindweed and why does Queenie compare Napier to it? See page 78.
  10. Does your view of Mr. Napier change at all in the second novel?
  11. What is a rockery and how does it connect with Queenie’s statement on page 94, “I’d made my sea garden to atone for the terrible wrong I had done to a man I loved, I said. Sometimes you have to do something with your pain because otherwise it will swallow you.” Do you agree?
  12. What is the color of Harold’s suit and why does the author keep referring to it (as on page 102)?
  13. What is the meaning of the lesson of the peach on page 108?
  14. “Waiting” is one of the themes in the book. What did you learn about “waiting” in the book and from life?
  15. When Sister Lucy unveils the Harold Fry corner on page 122, Mr. Henderson responds, “Good grief…this is worse than Huis Clos.” To what is he referring? Did you look it up?
  16. Sister Lucy is always removing pieces from the puzzle. Why does she keep dissembling the puzzle?
  17. Who had the more difficult pilgrimage, Harold Fry or Queenie Hennessy?
  18. On page 168 Sister Inconnu says, “The sky and the sun are always there. It’s the clouds that come and go. Stop holding on to yourself, and look at the world around you…. Those days are over too. So the only thing left for you to do now is to stop trying to fix the problem.” What’s the message in that exchange?
  19. On page 173-176, Queenie relates the story of the day when the car sputters, she and Harold are lost on the highway and must walk back to Kingsbridge. Why does she describe that as a perfect day?
  20. Queenie says (on page 200), “When you know a thing is wrong, you have to work very hard to stick with it.” What does she mean, and do you agree?
  21. On page 263 Queenie reminisces that “my mind was caught up in thinking of ways to keep it safe. I was wrong, though, about the threat coming from wind or gulls. Five years ago, something else got it.” To what is she referring? Who “got it?” And what’s the life lesson?
  22. Sister Mary Inconnu at one point (page 309) says, “Dear oh dear. We really should sit and laugh at trees more often.” What was that episode about?
  23. Share your opinion: were Queenie’s letters to Harold written in Morse code or shorthand? Explain your opinion.
  24. Besides “waiting” are there other themes throughout the book? Other lessons learned?