Archives for posts with tag: Community of Christ

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 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!

The All Good Books club will meet on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7 PM to discuss Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network. The meeting will be held on Zoom. Thank you to all who agreed to this one week postponement!

The first twelve questions that follow are from the end matter in Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network. The remaining questions are home-grown, but first here’s a list of prominent characters:

  • Charlie St. Clair, 19-year-old pregnant schoolgirl in 1947, takes on the alias of Mrs. Donald McGowan.
  • Rose Fournier (Charlie’s cousin) 21 years old in 1947, good with numbers, pregnant by her boyfriend Etienne.
  • Tante (aunt) Jeanne, infirm, mother of Rose.
  • Eve Gardiner, stutters, recruited in WWI to spy for England. In 1915 uses the code name Marguerite Le François, came from a troubled home, unfaithful father, spendthrift mother, always arguing.
  • René Bordelon, collaborator and profiteer takes on alias of René du Malassis.
  • Finn Kilgore, Gardiner’s man of all work. In 1947, he’s 29 or 30 years old, drives a Lagonde, an ex-convict.
  • Captain Cameron, in 1915 recruits spies for the Alice Network.
  • Alice (Lili) Dubois, Eve’s contact in the spy network. Her real name is Louise de Bettignies.
  • Violette Lameron, also a spy in the Alice network (appears in both 1917 & 1947 in the novel). Her real name is Léonie van Houtte.

Discussion Questions:

  1. ​Female friendship is a constant theme throughout The Alice Network. Charlie St. Clair and Eve Gardiner begin as antagonists, whereas Eve and Louise de Bettignies (Lili) are friends from the start. How does each friendship grow and change over the course of events?
  2. ​The young Eve introduced in 1915 is very different from the older Eve seen through Charlie’s eyes in 1947. How and when did you see the young Eve begin to change into her older self? What was the catalyst of those changes?
  3. ​Lili tells Eve, “To tell the truth, much of this special work we do is quite boring.” Did the realities of spy work surprise you, compared to the more glamorous version presented by Hollywood? How do you think you would have fared working for the historical Alice Network?
  4. ​René Bordelon is denigrated by his peers as a war profiteer and an informer. He sees himself as a practical businessman, pointing out that he is not to blame for making money off the invaders, or for tragedies like Oradour-sur-Glane that happened on German orders. Did you see him as a villain or an opportunist? Do you think he earned his final fate?
  5. ​Eve loves Captain Cameron and hates René Bordelon—but her relationship with René is longer, darker, and more complex. How is her hatred for him complicated by intimacy? How does his realization of Eve’s true identity change him? How do you think they continued to think and feel about each other during their thirty years’ separation, and how did that affect their eventual climax?
  6. ​Finn Kilgore and Captain Cameron are parallels for each other: both Scotsmen and ex-soldiers with war wounds and prison terms in their pasts, acting as support systems for the women they love who go into danger. How are the two men different as well as alike? How does Finn succeed where Cameron fails?
  7. ​The disappearance of Charlie’s cousin Rose Fournier provides the story’s driving search. Did her eventual fate surprise you? Had you ever heard of Oradour-sur-Glane? How did Rose’s fate change the goal of the search?
  8. ​Everyone in The Alice Network suffers some form of emotional damage from war: Charlie’s depression after losing her marine brother to suicide, Eve’s torture-induced nightmares, Finn’s concentration-camp memories and resulting anger issues, Cameron’s guilt over losing his recruits. How do they each cope with their war wounds? How do they help each other heal? How is PTSD handled in Eve’s day as compared to Charlie’s day—and as compared to now?
  9. ​Charlie dreads the stigma of being a “bad girl” pregnant out of wedlock, and Eve fears shame and dismissal as a horizontale if it is learned she slept with a source for information. Discuss the sexual double standards each woman faced. How have our sexual standards for women changed since 1915 and 1947?
  10. ​Charlie decides to keep her baby, and Eve decides to have an abortion. Why did each woman make the choice she did?
  11. ​Charlie argues that René should be brought to legal justice, and Eve argues for vigilante justice. Who do you think is right? How did it affect the ending? How do you think the outcome will bind Eve and Charlie and Finn in the future, since they cannot share their adventure with anyone else?
  12. ​“There are two kinds of flowers when it comes to women. The kind that sit safe in a beautiful vase, or the kind that survive in any conditions . . . even in evil.” The theme of the fleurs du mal carries from Lili to Eve—how does Eve pass it on to Charlie? When do you see Charlie becoming a fleur du mal in her own right? How has knowing Eve changed Charlie’s life, and vice versa?
  13. Did you look up Edith Piaf and listen to any of her music? If so, have you heard it before.
  14. The novel starts in May 1947 but reverts to May 1915 through March 1916; jumping back and forth between the two time periods. Why, what happens in those time periods? And why is the story told out of chronological order?
  15. What is Charlie St. Cloud’s “Little Problem?”
  16. Why does Charlie take on the alias of Mrs. Donald McGowan? What issues cause this deception? How did you reaction to subsequent references to “Donald?”
  17. After reading “The Alice Network” in times of war, could you be a spy?
  18. Who said, “The army doesn’t want me anymore. I did my part and the war’s over, so now they’ll pin some b-bits of tin on me and tell me to bugger off back to the file room. Well, they can keep their damned tin scraps” and why?
  19. Some characters appear throughout the novel who are based on historical figures, such as Edith Cavell (a nurse) and Léon Trulin (18-year-old). Who are they and why are they important to the novel?
  20. Did you look up “fleur du mal?” What does it mean? Who is described by that phrase in the novel and does it apply?
  21. The poem “Le Mort Joyeux” or “The Joyful Corpse” is mentioned in the novel. Did you look up the verses? What do you think it refers to? Who’s the author?
  22. Did you read the Author’s Notes at end of the novel? Did any of the information stick in your memory? How much of the novel and which of the characters are historically based?
  23. Who would you recommend this 500-page novel to? Who would you not recommend it to?
  24. If you completed the novel, would you have done so if it were not assigned for a book club discussion?

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 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 group will not meet in February but will resume meeting in March. We’ll discuss Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Eileen McNamara at the next meeting on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 7 PM in the Community of Christ Church Library (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS).

Discussion questions for the biography will be posted on this site in February.

The schedule of upcoming books for discussion is always available at https://allbooksclub.wordpress.com/meeting-dates-books/.