Welcome to the KPL Book Club Blogspot

Welcome to the internet home of the Kilbourn Public Library (KPL) Book Club. The KPL Book Club meets at the library once a month. A book is chosen for each month and then members of the book club meet the last Monday and Wednesday of every month for lively discussion and treats. While we can’t offer you treats via the internet, this KPL Reads blog was designed for those of you who would like to participate in the book club but don’t have time to join us at meetings. Each month KPL staff will post discussion topics and questions to get you “talking”. Join in the discussion by adding a post to the blog. Click on the word comments below the post you want to "talk" about and write your comment. Be sure to check back often to see feedback and comments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee for the March book selection.  This landmark novel is set two decades after Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama.  Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"-- returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus.  Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her.  Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee.  Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion and humor. 

Maycomb is a town without train service, and its bus service "was erratic and seemed to go nowhere."  How does this lack of connection isolate the citizens of Maycomb, and how does that isolation affect how they see themselves and outsiders? 

Think about the extended Finch family. What is their status in Maycomb?  What is the significance of being a Finch in this small Southern town?  Does it afford them privileges--as well as expectations of them and responsibilities--that other families do not share?  Do the Finches have freedoms that others do not enjoy?

Think about the relationship between Jean Louise and Atticus at the beginning of the novel.  Does Jean Louise idealize her father too much?  How does she react when she discovers that her father is a flawed human being? 

How have our attitudes about race evolved since the 1950s when Go Set a Watchman was written?  In what ways have we progressed?  Is the stain of racism indelible in our national character, or can it eventually be erased?  Can it be eradicated for good?

Consider the novel's title, Go Set a Watchman.  What is its significance?  Why do you think Harper Lee chose this as her title for the book?

Let us know what you think of Go Set a Watchman.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

For February the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. 

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day's journey from the coast.  To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. 

Years later, after two miscarriages and one still birth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby's cries on the wind.  A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.  Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately.  But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast.  Against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy.  When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world.  Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman's mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel's decision to keep this "gift from God."  And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another's tragic loss.

Why do you think the author selected the title, The Light Between Oceans, for this novel?

Think about the impact of living in seclusion on both Tom and Isabel.  Why do you think each of them is drawn to Janus Rock?  Do you think, in the moments when we are unobserved, we are different people?

Tom believes that rules are vital, that they are what keep a man from becoming a savage.  Do you agree with him?

Which characters won your sympathy and why?  Did this change over the course of the novel?  Did your notion of what was best or right shift in the course of your reading?

What did you think of the conclusion of the novel?  What emotions did you feel at the story's end?  Did it turn out as you expected?  Were you satisfied?

Let us know what you think of The Light Between Oceans.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The January book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. 

Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Each character's voice attempts to offer insight into the meaning of life and death.  Does any one character do this better than the others?  Are older people necessarily smarter than younger people when it comes to the philosophy of living?

Are the characters likeable?  Is it important that we like them in order to enjoy and/or understand the story?  Which character did you like or at least empathize with the most?  The least? Why?

What does this story teach us about what defines friends and family?  Do the characters become friends?

Let us know what you think of A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby.
For December the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is again reading a selection of Holiday Books.  Each person will pick a Holiday Book they would like to read and we will have a short discussion on the books.

We will also be watching the movie Rebecca based on the book by the same name that we read for our October book selection.

Let us know if you have a favorite old or new Holiday Book that you enjoyed.
The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group read the Go Big Read Book Selection Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson for the November book.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Just Mercy begins with information about Bryan Stevenson growing up poor in a racially segregated community in Delaware.  He remembers his grandmother telling him,  "You can't understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan.  You have to get close".  How does Stevenson get close to the incarcerated people he is helping?  How does getting close to Walter McMillian affect Stevenson's life?  Can you be an effective criminal lawyer without getting close?

As a result of his extensive work with low income and incarcerated people, Stevenson concludes that "the opposite of poverty is not wealth:  the opposite of poverty is justice".  What does this statement mean?  What examples in the book inform Stevenson's position on poverty and justice?  What is justice?  What does "Just Mercy" mean?

Many United States citizens will find this book painful to read, demoralizing and even shameful.  What kind(s) of emotional state(s) did the book bring up in you?  Is this a book about combating racism?  What do you think this book is about?


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for the October book selection.  Rebecca  was first published in 1938 and made Daphne du Maurier one of the most popular authors of the day.  This novel is considered by many critics as the finest Gothic romance of the 20th century.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast.  With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant, the sinister Mrs. Danvers---still loyal.

And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley.

Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one--which in itself is a telling comment.  What effect does it have on the novel that the heroine has no first name?

What kind of character is Maxim de Winter, and why does a man of his stature fall in love with the young heroine?  What draws him to her?

What role does Mrs. Danvers play in this story--in her relationships to the characters (dead and alive) and also in relation to the suspense within the novel?

What are some of the other clues about Rebecca's true nature that the author carefully plants along the way?

How might the costume ball--and the heroine's appearance in Rebecca's gown--stand as a symbol for young Mrs. de Winter's situation at Manderley?

How do you view the destruction of Manderley?  Is it horrific....or freeing...or justified vengeance on Rebecca's part?  Would the de Winters have had a fulfilling life at Manderley had it not burned?

A perfect hauntingly suspenseful story for October!  Let us know what you think of Rebecca.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom for the September book selection. 

Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house.  Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.  Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds.  When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

Why do you think the author chose to tell the story through two narrators?  How are Lavinia's observations and judgments different from Belle's?  Does this story belong to one more than the other?  If you could choose another character to narrate the novel, who would it be?

Why does the captain keep Belle's true identity a secret from his wife and children?  Do you think the truth would have been a relief to his family or torn them further apart?  At what  point does keeping this secret turn tragic?

Marshall is a complicated character.  At times, he is kind and protective;  other times, he is a violent monster.  What is the secret that Marshall is forced to keep?  Is he to blame for what happened to Sally?  Why do you think Marshall was loyal to Rankin, who was a conspirator with Mr. Waters?

" I was enslaved as all the others" (page 300).  Do you think this statement by Lavinia is fair?  Is her position equivalent to those of the slaves?  What freedom does she have that the slaves do not?  What burdens does her race put upon her?

Let us know what you think of The Kitchen House.