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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is certainly a jigsaw puzzle of a novel, but also very much worth reading. I’m very curious to hear the reactions of fellow All Good Books club members when we meet to discuss the novel on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive, Leawood, KS). Here are some possible discussion questions I noted as I read through the 500 page novel.

  1. What’s the first line of the book? Did you view it as ominous or a foretelling of adventure? Or did you have a different response or no immediate reaction?
  2. Why do you think Morgenstern chose the circus as the venue for the competition between Marco and Celia? What is a good choice?
  3. Who said “Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case” and why?
  4. What is your response to the statement by the Man in the Grey Suit when he says “People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see (Page 24).”
  5. Any thoughts on the statement that a secret loses its “power bit by bit” when written or shared (Page 226)?
  6. What was the message in the deaths of Herr Fredrick Thiessen and Tara Burgess? Why did they have to die? Or did they?
  7. Why was the reveurs group created? What was their purpose within the plot? The French term translates as “dreamers” (noun). Any thoughts on that?
  8. On page 440, Elizabeth (one of the reveurs) says, “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place….” Are the reveurs any different from the rest of us?
  9. The sign for trespassers at the Night Circus says they’ll be “exsanguinated.” Who was the one trespasser we know about and did that happen? Why or why not?
  10. When Bailey was first introduced as a character, what role did you think he was going to play? Were you correct?
  11. How were Marco and Celia bound to the competition? Did it occur to you that the method foreshadowed the outcome?
  12. Who was the Contortionist? What role did that character play and what were her motives?
  13. In a metaphorical sense, what was the role of Chandresh Lefevre? Of Prospero and Alexander H? Of the reveurs, the public who attend the Night Circus, and the competitors?
  14. As you think back on the entire novel, do you see parallels in literature? History? Religion? What did you view as the overall theme? How would you summarize the “message” of the book? Does it say anything about real life?
  15. Of all the visual images within the book, which intrigued you the most? Or which did you think most beautiful? Possible examples include: the Opening Night Bonfire (page 119-121) the Midnight Dinners, Ship of Books, the Wishing Tree, Pool of Tears (page 396), the Hall of Mirrors, and the das Meisterwerk clock (page 88-89).
  16. Who was the most fascinating character in the book? Why? Does your selection change if you exclude Celia and Marco?


At our November 2012 meeting we’ll plan to add 5-6 books to our reading list for 2013. Suggested at the last meeting (by Eloise based on Oprah‘s Recommended Reading List) are the following:

Almost Paradise by Susan Isaacs, see

The Empty Glass by J. I. Baker, see

The Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition by Doreen Carvajal, see the description.

Also suggested (based on an email story several members had received) was:

Life in a Jar: The Irene Sandler Project by Jack Mayer, see

I’d also like to suggest we consider the following (a movie adaptation is being released very soon):

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, see

Please bring your list of suggested titles to the meeting or post them as comments on this blog posting or email me (Jonathan Bacon) with your suggestions.

11/5/2012 Update – I’m adding a couple of additional books, by author’s we’ve read before, as possible additions to our schedule.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible), see or the longer overview on

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, see the description on Goodreads at

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (author of Atonement), see description on

Any other suggestions? We’ll discuss adding new books to our schedule this Thursday, November 8, 2012.

At the next meeting of the All Good Books Club, the group will discuss “Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. The meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive, Leawood, KS.

You can find out more about the author at her website:

You can also find an NPR discussion of the book at plus a book review (

There’s also a 7-minute interview with Morgenstern at

Please plan to meet with us on November 8th.

In preparation for our October 11, 2012 discussion of Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, I’ve drafted a few questions that might generate some discussion. We’ll meet at 7 PM Thursday at the Leawood Pioneer Library, Leawood, Kansas.

  1. What did you anticipate when you started to read the book and how did your expectations correspond with what you read?
  2. Are there passages in the book that you underlined and otherwise noted that made you reflect on issues related to the afterlife, pain and suffering, rewards and punishment or other topics?
  3. How closely does your concept of Heaven correspond with Colton’s experiences? Angels with wings? Such as God sitting literally on a throne? Angels carrying swords or bows and arrows to fight Satan and his forces? The age-related appearance of those who have died (Colton’s unborn sister appears as a child but Grandpa “Pop” Barber appears as a young man)? The presence of Jesus, Gabriel, Mary, Satan, and others?
  4. Have you ever experienced “shot down power” that provided an answer when needed and it seemed as if under normal circumstances you wouldn’t know what to say? (page 146)
  5. Colton first relates his story to his parents 3½ months after the event and continues adding detail over the next several years (approximately the next 2½ to 3 years). How reliable do you consider his re-telling of the events? Do you think Colton’s reflections are at all influenced and expanded because of his environment (growing up as the son of a Pastor)?
  6. Does the book alter, reinforce or negate any of your views of the afterlife?
  7. How did you react to Colton’s statement that “This one’s right” when he saw Akiane’s portrait of Jesus?
  8. When asked how Colton’s experience had changed the family, Pastor Burpo said “it absolutely broke us” and “we learned the value of being vulnerable enough to let others be strong for us, to let others bless us.” What do you think he meant? See page 153.
  9. What answers did you find in the book?
  10. Would you recommend the book to others? Why or why not?

Related links:

Heaven is real, says neurosurgeon who claims to have visited the afterlife

Audio Interview with Todd Burpo about “Heaven Is For Real”

Today Show interview with Burpo Family