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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The library book club selection for January is the classic tale To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Atticus tells the children several times that they need to walk in someone else's shoes before judging the person. Describe times when Atticus, Scout or Jem walk in someone else's shoes. How does this change how they view the situations? What role does this advice play in sympathy and compassion?

How does the trial and everything surrounding it change the town? Change Jem and Scout? Did it change you?

Who is your favorite character and why?

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

During December the members of the Kilbourn Public Library book club are reading a selection of holiday stories. Each member chose a different book and will tell other members about it at the December meeting. Do you have a favorite holiday book? Let us know what it is and why you like it. Happy Holidays!
The November book club selection is Plainsong by Kent Haruf. In the small town of Holt, Tom Guthrie, a high school teacher, fights to keep his life together and to raise his two boys after their depressed mother first retreats to her bedroom, and then moves away to her sister's house. The boys, not yet adolescents, struggle to make sense of adult behavior and their mother's apparent abandonment. A pregnant teenage girl, kicked out by her mother and rejected by the father of her child, searches for a secure place in the world. And far out in the country, two elderly bachelor brothers work the family farm as they have their entire lives, all but isolated from life beyond their own community.

From these separate strands emerges a vision of life--and of the community and landscape that bind them together--that is both luminous and enduring. Plainsong is a story of abandonment, grief, and stoicism that bring these people together, and it is a story of the kindness, hope, and dignity that redeem their lives.

Why might Kent Haruf have chosen Plainsong as the title for this novel?

How does Haruf characterize the landscape of Holt and its surroundings, and how does he use landscape to set the emotional scene? In what ways are his characters shaped and formed by the land around them?

How would you decribe Holt, Colorado? What are its limitations, its disadvantages, and what are its strengths? In what ways is it typical of any American small town, and in what ways is it different? What help does it provide for people who need healing, like the characters in this book?

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The book club selection for October is The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose. The Unlikely Disciple is the story of the semester that Roose spent at Liberty University, the Reverend Jerry Falwell's "Bible Boot Camp" for young evangelicals.

Coming from progressive Brown University, the author admits that the transition to Liberty, with its iron-clad attempts at controlling student behavior, came with much anxiety. The Unlikely Disciple chronicles the fascinating, entertaining, thought-provoking experiences Roose had during his semester at Liberty.

What did you admire about the Liberty students with whom Roose comes into contact? What surprised you about them?

What preconceived notions of evangelicals did Roose carry into his time at Liberty? How did his time there affirm or rebut these ideas?

Do you have preconceived notions of evangelicals? Did The Unlikely Disciple confirm or refute your preconceptions?

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The book club selection for September is Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. Child 44 is a gripping novel about one man's dogged pursuit of a serial killer against the opposition of Stalinist state security forces. Child 44 is at once suspenseful and provocative. Tom Rob Smith's remarkable debut thriller powerfully dramatizes the human cost of loyalty, integrity, and love in the face of totalitarian terror.

A decorated war hero driven by dedication to his country and faith in the superiority of Communist ideals, Leo Demidov has built a successful career in the Soviet security network, suppressing ideological crimes and threats against the state with unquestioning efficiency. When a fellow officer's son is killed, Leo is ordered to stop the family from spreading the notion that their child was murdered. For in the official version of Stalin's worker's paradise, such a senseless crime is impossible--an affront to the Revolution. But Leo knows better: a murderer is at large, cruelly targeting children, and the collective power of the Soviet government is denying his existence.

The narrative unfolds at a breathless pace, exposing the culture of fear that turns friends into foes and forces families to hide devastating secrets.

What propels Leo to go forward in his quest for the murderer: fear, compassion, or a sense of justice?

Does the book's portrayal of life in a totalitarian state remind you of any other books?

In 1953, the year of Stalin's death, there were 2,468,524 prisoners in the Gulag system. Do you think that legacy affects Russian culture today?

Which character's duplicity or innocence did you find the most surprising and why?

Let us know what you think about this riveting thriller.

Monday, August 2, 2010

This month's library book club selection is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. This novel weaves together three stories of love within a larger tapestry of lives in the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia.

Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region until she is caught off-guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and confounds her self-assured, solitary life. On a nearby farm, bookish city girl turned farmer's wife finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few miles down the road, a pair of feuding, elderly neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides and a future neither of them expected.

Over the course of one humid summer, these characters find their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a space.

Why do you think this book is entitled Prodigal Summer? In what ways do all of the characters display "prodigal" characteristics? Who, or what, welcomes them home from their journeys?

Deanna is the self-appointed protector of coyotes and all predators. Is she disturbing nature's own ways of dealing with upsets? What about Garnett and his quest for a blight-free chestnut tree--is this "good" for nature?

Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The book club selection for July is Canadian author Margaret Atwood's prize-winning novel Alias Grace. Alias Grace is based on real-life character, Grace Marks, who at age fifteen was sentenced to death for her part in the murder of her employer and his mistress. Although her sentence was changed to life imprisonment, many thought that she should have died on the gallows along with her co-conspirator.

Thus, Grace Marks became a "celebrated murderess" and an infamous enigma of the nineteenth century. Offering no simple solutions to this ongoing mystery, Atwood's prose will have readers laughing one minute and weeping the next.

Atwood employs two main points of view and voices in the novel. Do you trust one more than the other? As the story progresses, does Grace's voice (in dialogue) in Simon's part of the story change? If yes, how and why?

Were you of the same mind regarding Grace's innocence or guilt throughout the novel? At what points did you waver one way or the other?

Did any character in the novel freely choose his or her course of action?

Why do you suppose the book is titled Alias Grace?

Let us know what you think!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The book club selection for June is Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman is known for her lyrical writing and stories laced with magic. Skylight Confessions is an epic novel that's steeped in the imagery and magic of fairy tales. The story starts with Arlyn Singer, a young woman who decides to love the next man she sees, and pursues him straight to a marriage. The rest of her life, and the lives of those around her, seems predetermined and magical but also deeply sad and bound up in loss. Skylight Confessions is filled with people falling in love quickly and deeply, children longing to fly, and otherworldly signs and beings.

Did your family have any favorite myths or fairy tales you heard as a child?

Do you think there was something that could have been done to save Sam?

What was it that John Moody learned about Arlyn as he was dying?

Why do you suppose the author chose to end the book before the door opened?

Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The book club selection for May is Still Alice by Lisa Genova. According to Barnes & Noble Editors this may be one of the most frightening novels you'll ever read. It's certainly one of the most unforgettable. Genova's debut revolves around Alice Howland--Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It's a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker--she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. To Genova's credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels--a slowly building terror.

In Still Alice, Genova, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard, uniquely reveals the experience of living with Alzheimer's. Hers is an unusual book--both a moving novel and an important read.

When Alice becomes disoriented in Harvard Square, a place she's visited for twenty-five years, why doesn't she tell John? Is she too afraid to face a possible illness, worried about his reaction, or some other reason?

When Alice's three children, Anna, Tom and Lydia, find out they can be tested for the genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer's, only Lydia decides she doesn't want to know. Why does she decline? Would you want to know if you had the gene?

Alice's doctor rells her, "You may not be the most reliable source of what's been going on" (pg 54). Yet, Lisa Genova chose to tell the story from Alice's point of view. As Alice's disease worsens, her perceptions indeed get less reliable. Why would the author choose to stay in Alice's perspective? What do we gain, and what do we lose?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The book club selection for April is The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. This is Amy Tan's fourth novel and like much of her work it deals with the relationship between an American-born Chinese woman and her immigrant mother.

The Bonesetter's Daughter is divided into two major stories. The first is about Ruth, a Chinese-American woman living in San Francisco. She worries that her elderly mother, LuLing, is gradually becoming more and more demented. LuLing seems increasingly forgetful, and makes bizarre comments about her family and her own past.

The second major story is that of LuLing herself, as written for Ruth. Several years earlier, LuLing had written out her life story in Chinese. Ruth arranges to have the document translated, and learns the truth about her mother's life in China.

Memory plays an important role in The Bonesetter's Daughter. How is Ruth's life affected by her childhood memories? How do LuLing's memories affect her behavior around Ruth?

To frame the novel, Tan uses the device of a story within a story. How is this effective in bringing past and present together?

What is the significance of Ruth's learning the family name at the end of the book? What does Ruth learn about her name that helps change her opinion of her mother?

Let us know what you think of The Bonesetter's Daughter.

Monday, March 1, 2010

During March the Kilbourn Library book club will be exploring the world of Jane Austen. Jane Austen was an English novelist whose realism, biting social commentary and masterful use of irony have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature. Her fans today number in the millions and since the advent of motion pictures, her novels have been turned into film at an almost regular pace. Although Jane Austen published a mere six novels, those few works have become the basis for the true romance story since their appearance on the literary scene in the early 1800's.

We invite you to read one or more of Jane Austen's books. We have several books available at the library desk for you to choose from including her novels as well as books written about her. Stop by and pick one up today.

Let us know which book you read and what you think of it.

Why do you think that Austen's novels are still so widely read and appreciated today?

Monday, February 1, 2010

The book club selection for February is The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives by the Women of Jewelia and Cheryl Jarvis.

A few years ago, thirteen California women agreed to pay $15,000 for a diamond necklace and take turns keeping it and wearing it for a month at a time. They explain why they did it-- and what they got out of it--in their collective memoir, The Necklace, a New York Times bestseller.

The necklace has the subtitle Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives. Did the authors of this book convince you that their lives really had been "transformed"? Why or why not?

Some of the women in The Necklace make pointed comments on how Americans see middle-aged women. Roz McGrath ("the feminist") says, "I hate it when people call me young lady." (Page 190) Do you think The Necklace makes a statement about women "of a certain age"? What is it?

At one point, a group of men see the diamonds and debate what they could share: "a boat, an RV, a Porsche?" (page 128) Would a similar experiment have worked with men? Why or why not?

Let us know what you think of The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives.