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, February 6, 2019

The February book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, this book takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness.  Using a mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor, this book investigates not what happiness is, but where it is.  Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world?  Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness?  Why is Asheville, North Carolina so happy?  Weiner answers these questions and many others in The Geography of Bliss.

Do you think that Eric Weiner achieved his goal in finding the happiest places around the world?

A few of the places mentioned in the book such as Iceland and Thailand seemed like surprising places to find happiness.  Were you surprised by some of the locations that he picked?

What locations around the world would you have assumed to be the happiest places?

If you were to visit any of the places mentioned in the book, where would you go and why?

What do you think makes people happy?

Should a country worry about the happiness of its people? 

Why do you think Americans aren't higher up on the happiness scale?

Let us know what you think of The Geography of Bliss.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group  selection for January is In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende.  This is a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.  In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident--which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives.  (From the publisher.)

Each of the three main characters--Lucia, Evelyn, and Richard -- experiences some king of isolation in their present life.  The book begins with Lucia physically isolated in her apartment during a snowstorm.  In what other ways is she isolated?  How is her isolation different from Evelyn's?  And from Richard's?

Evelyn's relationship with Frankie is very special, and reveals a lot about her character.  Why is she so successful at caring for him?  In what ways does she expand his horizons?

When Evelyn leaves her native village, she tells her grandmother Concepcion, "Just as I am going, Grandma, so I will return."  Compare Evelyn's relationship with her grandmother to her relationship with her mother, Miriam.  What positive things has each of them given to Evelyn?

When Richard arrives in New York with Anita, and his friend Horacio sees the state she is in, he says to Richard, "Make sure you don't let her down, brother."  In what ways does Richard end up letting Anita down?  Why do you think he does?  How does the fate of Anita and his children continue to shape his life long after their deaths?

"In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer."  Why do you think Isabel Allende chose to include this quote from Albert Camus in the book's epigraph, title, and final scene?  Most of the story literally takes place during the winter.  But on the symbolic level, Evelyn, Lucia, and Richard are all experiencing a winter of the spirit.  What does that consist of, for each of them?  And what do you think the "invincible summer" is that each one finds within?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for November.  Meet Eleanor Oliphant:  She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking.  Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office.  When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living.  And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open your heart.  (From the Publisher)

Knowing the truth about Eleanor's family, look back through the book to revisit her exchanges with her mother.  Did you see what was ahead?  How did Honeyman lay the groundwork for the final plot twist?

What are the different ways that the novel's title could be interpreted?  What do you think happens to Eleanor after the book ends?

Eleanor says, "these days, loneliness is the new cancer--a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way.  A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it:  other people don't want to hear the work spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted" (p. 227).  Do you agree?

What does Raymond find appealing about Eleanor?  And why does Eleanor feel comfortable opening up to Raymond?

Eleanor is one of the most unusual protagonists in recent fiction, and some of her opinions and actions are very funny.  What were you favorite moments in the novel?

Let us know what you think of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely fine!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The October book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.  The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is the 2018 Go Big Read selection.  This book explores the Great Lakes and explains how these lake are facing a severe threat from human activity and are turning into an environmental catastrophe.  This book blends the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and ways we can save our largest source of freshwater for future generations.

What do the Great Lakes mean to you?  Have they had an impact on your life?

Human intervention in the form of shipping, introducing non-native species, and manipulating waterways is a persistent theme in examining the causes of crises currently plaguing the Great Lakes.  Given this, can human intervention also provide solutions?  If so, what can be learned from the mistakes and successes of past interventions?

Though Egan is highly knowledgeable about his subject matter, he is first and foremost a reporter, not a scientist.   How does his reporting of the history of and issues surrounding the Great Lakes differ from how a scientist might write about the same information?  Who do you think the target audience is for a book like this?  What is its intended impact?

What bodies of water have had an impact on your own life, whether for recreation, sustenance or livelihood?  Have you noticed any physical changes in these water sources over time?  Reflecting on your own reactions to these changes, what do you think it would take to inspire people to pay attention to the Great Lakes in the future?

Despite all the evidence that the Great Lakes are changing dramatically--and not for the better--is there hope for the future?  What systems are at work that continue to put the health of the lakes at risk?  How can individuals make a difference?

Let us know what you think of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The September book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain.  Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice and forgiveness.

One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello's life is changed forever.  It is 1944.  Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie.  Instead she turns to the baby's father for help and ends up trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

What kind of tone do you think the prologue sets for the rest of the novel?  Did it succeed in making you want to read further?  Why or why not?

On page 138, Tess writes to Gina that she is still planning on becoming a nurse despite her new family's disapproval, saying,  "I've worked hard for this and I'm going to get that license!"  Why do you think Tess clings to this dream and works so hard to make it happen?

What do you think of Reverend Sam?  Can he truly speak to the dead or is he simply trying to comfort Tess?  Does it matter whether or not his "powers" are authentic?

Near the end of the book, Henry compared his experiences being "trapped" by society to Tess' experiences being "trapped" in marriage.  Do you think this is a fair comparison for him to make?   Why or why not?

Let us know what you think of The Stolen Marriage.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Happily Ever After Everyone Else:  Julie's Story by Mary (Leary) Becker and Diane St. Cyr Janelle for the August book selection.  Mary (Leary) Becker is a native of Wisconsin Dells and she will lead our book discussions in August at the library. 

Happily After Everyone Else:  Julie's Story is the first book in the "She Said, He Said" book series.  This book takes a humorous but honest look at the life of a couple in the sandwich generation.  They are dealing with conflict and commitments, not to mention seven children, one son-in-law, two grandchildren, one future daughter-in-law and one live-in parent.  What follows is a humorous road trip involving friends, family, romance and people from the past.

What did you like best about this book?

What did you like least about this book?

Which characters in the book were your favorite?

What feelings did this book evoke for you?

Did the characters seem believable to you?

If you could ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?

Let us know what you think of Happily Ever After Everyone Else: Julie's Story!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Circling the Sun by Paula McLain for the July book selection. 

Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman--Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Deny Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain's powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit. (From the publisher.)

While it is clear he loved his daughter, do you feel Beryl's father was a good parent?  Do you think Beryl would have said he was?  Did you sympathize with him at any point?

Beryl is forced to be independent from a very young age.  How do you think this shaped her personality (for better or for worse)?

Why do you believe the author chose the title Circling the Sun?  Does it bring to mind a particular moment from the novel or an aspect of Beryl's character?

When Beryl becomes a mother herself, she is determined not to act as her own mother did.  Do you feel she succeeds?  How does motherhood spur her decision to exchange horse training for flying?  Could you identify with this choice?

After Paddy the lion attacks Beryl, Bishon Singh says, "Perhaps you were never meant for him."  Do you think that Beryl truly discovered what she was meant for by the end of the novel?

(Questions from the author's website.)

Let us know what you think of Circling the Sun.