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.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The book club selection for July is Lying Awake by Mark Salzman. Sister John of the Cross is a middle-aged nun cloistered in a Carmelite monastery in contemporary Los Angeles. She has languished for years in a spiritual drought until she suddenly received God's grace in the form of intense mystical visions. The only downside is they are accompanied by excruciating headaches that cause her to black out.

The nuns follow a way of life established for centuries. In what ways, if any, are they allowed to express their individuality?

What specific roles do these women play in creating the reality of the religious life: the novice Sister Miriam, Mother Mary Joseph, the former prioress, and Sister Teresa, Sister John's novice mistress? What qualities does Sister John share with each of them?

How does the language and style of Lying Awake differ from most contemporary writing? In what ways do the words of nuns' prayers and Sister John's own poetry enhance the narrative? What details of daily life in the monasterey help to establish the themes Salzman is exploring?

Let us know what you think!
The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club chose The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for June. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue turns out to provide human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio.

Rebecca Skloot's book also gives us the rest of the story, the part that could have easily remained hidden had she not spent ten years unearthing it: Who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she die? Did her family know that she'd become, in some sense, immortal, and how did that affect them?

Due to her patience with the Lacks family, Skloot was able to write this book. What do you think about her ability to persist in this project?

When HeLa cells started to be sold, do you think Dr. Gey should have stepped in to assure that Henrietta Lacks' family was compensated in some way? Do you think they should be compensated at all?
The library book club read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in May. The Thirteenth Tale is a rich story about secrets, ghosts, winter, books and family.
This book is reminiscent of classic British novels, like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

Margaret Lea works in her father's book store and is haunted by a loss in her past. One night Margaret is summoned to the home of the most famous author in England's house to record her autobiography. Vida Winter, the author, tells a layered tale, with stories within stories, keeping Margaret (and readers) curious.

Books play an important role in The Thirteenth Tale. What is your relationship to books? Do you agree with Miss Winter that stories can reveal truth better than simply stating it?

Miss Winter asks Margaret if she would like to hear a ghost story. Who are the ghosts in the story? In what ways are different characters haunted?

Let us know what you think of The Thirteenth Tale.