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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The March book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is Furious Hours:  Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep.  A true-crime book that delves into a dramatic murder trial in 1970s  Alabama, Furious Hours goes in depth into the trial, the key participants, and Harper Lee, the writer who spent years of her life after her success with To Kill a Mockingbird attempting to write her own true-crime book about the sensational trial. 

Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to
"get into it"?

How did you like the writing style of the author?

Did you like the way the book was structured?  Why or why not?

What specific passages or sections of the book were most memorable for you?

Let us know how you liked Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee.

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group read The Gown:  A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson for the February book selection.  This book is an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century--Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown--and the fascinating women who made it.

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created.   Alternating time lines between 1947 Britain and 2016 Canada, Robson vividly brings to life three women's struggles.

Were you surprised by the frenzy surrounding the secrecy of the gown? Does it remind you of today's obsessive celebrity watching? Why was absolute secrecy important? Would you have been able to withstand the pressures of maintaining silence?

Ann and Miriam Dassin become friends as the two work on the gown together. What do the women have in common, and in what ways are they different from one another? What forms the basis of their friendship—why are they drawn to one another?

 Was Ann right never to have revealed her past over the decades to her family? Would you have done likewise?

Do you find Heather Mackenzie's 2016 storyline as engaging as the historical part of the novel? Why or why not?

Let us know what you think of The Gown.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group will be reading books by New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson for the January book discussion.  Jackson writes page-turners that revolve around women's issues, faith and justice issues.  Jackson serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs.  Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia's maximum security facility for women. 

Joshilyn is well known for writing fiction, contemporary, chick lit, romance, women’s fiction, mystery, Southern, suspense, psychological thriller, and adult fiction novels. All her books are standalone novels and have done very well throughout the United States and overseas. So far, Joshilyn has penned ten novels and all of them have been translated into over a dozen foreign languages. Joshilyn’s books have won many prestigious literary awards & prizes and have received nominations for numerous others.

We have copies of Joshilyn Jackson's books available at the library.  Pick up a copy and let us know which book you read and what you thought about it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The book selection for November for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum. The Poison Squad is the 2019-2020 UW-Madison Go Big Read selection.

By the end of the nineteenth century, food was dangerous.  Lethal, even.  "Milk" might contain formaldehyde, most often used to embalm corpses.  Decaying meat was preserved with both salicylic acid, a pharmaceutical chemical, and borax, a compound first identified as a cleaning product.  This was not by accident:  food manufacturers had rushed to embrace the rise of industrial chemistry, and were knowingly selling harmful products.  Unchecked by government regulation, basic safey, or even labeling requirements, they put profit before the health of their customers. 

Over the next thirty years, a titanic struggle took place, with the courageous and fascinating Dr. Wiley campaigning indefatigably for food safety and consumer protection.  When the landmark 1906 Food and Drug Act was finally passed, it was known across the land, as "Dr. Wiley's Law."

Deborah Blum brings to life this timeless and hugely satisfying "David and Goliath" tale with righteous verve and style.

While the experiments on the Poison Squad were groundbreaking, they would likely not be possible today due to the risks posed to the human subjects.  Wiley also did not follow best practices such as maintaining a control group.  How could the Poison Squad experiments be improved scientifically and ethically?

Even with scientific evidence of the dangers of ingesting certain chemical additives, the fight to institute government oversight was an uphill battle.  Aside from business concerns, what other factors come into play when making regulations in the food industry?  Are there examples of this struggle in recent food legislation?

Wiley predicted the negative health effects of certain chemical preservatives, dyes, and even tobacco, but those in industry attempted to discredit his concerns, labeling them as mistrust and fear of the future of food in the modern age.  Today, chemophobia has led to negative consumer impacts, such as vaccine avoidance.  Can you think of other examples where the mistrust of chemicals by the public has led to controversy?

Let us know what you think of The Poison Squad, the dramatic true story of how food was made safe in the United State and the heroes, led by Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, who fought for change.
For October the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South.  He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career.  But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. 

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control.  An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future. (From the publisher.)

Let us know what you thought of An American Marriage.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

For September the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. 

Ignatius J. Reilly is a flatulent frustrated scholar deeply learned in Medieval philosophy and American junk food, a brainy mammoth misfit imprisoned in a trashy world of Greyhound Buses and Doris Day movies. Set in New Orleans, the novel bursts into life on Canal Street under the clock at D. H. Holmes department store.

A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece.  Toole's comic classic is filled with unforgettable characters and unbelievable plot twists, shimmering with intelligence, and dazzling in its originality. 

The first chapter of A Confederacy of Dunces  is generally thought to be among the funniest in American literature.  Do you agree?  What other comic novels remind you of A Confederacy of Dunces and why?

The city of New Orleans plays a central role in the novel, seeming to be a character in and of itself.  Could this novel have been set in another American city?

Project Ignatius and Myrna into the future.  They are supposed to be in love, but find themselves fighting before ever leaving the city.  Will they make it to New York?  Can New York survive Ignatius?  What possibilities do you see for them?

Is Ignatius purely lazy or does his attitude toward work reflect his disdain for the modern world of commerce? 

The book is elaborately plotted, but does it work?  What do you find unbelievable or improbable?

In the twenty-plus years since its publication A Confederacy of Dunces has become a cult novel.  What does that mean to you? 

Let us know what you think of A Confederacy of Dunces!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Our book selection for August is The Library Book by Susan Orlean. 

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library.  The fire was disastrous:  it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours.  By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. 

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

What has your relationship with libraries been throughout your life?

Were you at all familiar with the Los Angeles library fire?

How would you describe the fire's impact on the community?

Libraries today are more than just a building filled with books.  How has your local library evolved?

The Library Book confronts the issue of street people patronizing the library.  Is this an issue in your hometown?  How do you feel about the L.A. library's involvement, handling of the issue and the notion of inclusion?

What was you initial impression of Harry Peak?  Did it change throughout the investigation?

The Library Book chronicles the history of the Los Angeles Public Library from its origins to the present day. How were the library's ups and downs reflective of the city's ups and downs?  Are libraries a fair barometer to judge the mood of a city or a town?

Let us know what you think of The Library Book!