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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler for the July book selection.  From the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, the story of an American family, middle class in middle America, ordinary in every way but one.  But that exception is the beating heart of this extraordinary novel. 


Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle.  She has her reasons.  "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact:  that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us.  "It's never going to be the first thing I share with someone.  I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister.  But until Fern's expulsion, I'd scarcely known a moment alone.  She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."


The Miami Herald says "this brave, bold, shattering novel reminds us what it means to be human, in the best and worst sense."


Rosemary recounts many memories of the chimpanzee Fern and their brief life together.  How were she and Fern, in the language of the novel, "Same" and "NotSame"?  What does their relationship suggest about the compatibility of humans and primates?  How are humans different from other animals?


How did being co-raised with a chimpanzee impact Rosemary's development?  In what ways was she different from other, "normal" children?  How does she still differ from them to this day?


Consider Rosemary's father and mother.  Are they good parents?  Should they have handled Fern's leaving any differently?  If so, how?


What is your opinion of Rosemary's brother, Lowell Cooke?  Are his extreme views and actions at all justified?  Does he truly have Fern's well-being at heart?


Think about the significance of memory and storytelling in the novel.  How is Rosemary's memory--and consequently, her narrative--affected by the emotional trauma she has experienced?


Do you think that Rosemary comes to find peace with her family history by the end of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves?


Is animal experimentation ever justified?  If so, under what circumstances?


 Let us know what you think of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani for the June book selection.  In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town's golden age--an era as brutal as it was resplendent--and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame and success.


Brimming with larger-than-life characters, both real and fictional--including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel and more--it is the unforgettable story of one of cinema's greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making.


What made the Golden Age of Hollywood and the films it produced so alluring?  Why were the films particularly popular during the Great Depression?


Loretta is drawn to the movies at the age of four when she first appears in one. What compels her to such work?  What characteristics make her such a successful actress even well beyond the age when women usually struggled to work in Hollywood?


Examine the powerful and extensive relationship between Loretta and Clark Gable.  What is each drawn to in the other?  In what ways is their romance typical of or different from many in Hollywood at the time?  What limits the relationship?  What might explain the longevity despite these limits?


How is each of the men significant to Loretta----Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, David Niven--similar or different?  Why are there so few good husbands and fathers among the men of Hollywood?


What's the nature of being a fan of a movie star?  What does such a relationship provide despite its one-sided nature?  At what point might being a fan be unhealthy?


Let us know what you thing about All the Stars in the Heavens.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This month the book club will be reading Vanessa Diffenbaugh's novel The Language of Flowers.  A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. 


After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, Victoria Jones is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.  Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.  But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what's been missing in her life.  And when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.


What potential do Elizabeth, Renata, and Grant see in Victoria that she has a hard time seeing in herself?


While Victoria has been hungry and malnourished often in her life, food ends up meaning more than just nourishment to her. Why?


One of the major themes in The Language of Flowers  is forgiveness and second chances--do you think Victoria deserves one after the things she did (both as a child and as an adult)?  What about Catherine? And Elizabeth?


The novel touches on many different themes (love, family, forgiveness, second chances).  Which do you think is most important?  And what did you think was ultimately the lesson?


At the end of the novel, Victoria learns that moss grows without roots. What does this mean, and why is it such a revelation for her?


Knowing what you now know about the language of the flowers, to whom would you send a bouquet and what would you want it to say?


Let us know what you think of The Language of Flowers.

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.