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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The July book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.  This book by Mary Roach chronicles the compelling, and sometimes very humorous, use of the human body after one has passed on.  For over two-thousand years, cadavers have been involved in some of science's greatest, and sometimes strangest, undertakings. 

In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and, in so doing, tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

In her introduction to Stiff, Mary Roach remarks that "death makes us helplessly polite."  Why is it that we're compelled to use polite language when discussing death?  Why are we often afraid to discuss it in the way Roach has done here?

Many research studies that make use of cadavers raise questions about maintaining the dignity of the deceased.  For example, a ballistics study might involve decapitating a cadaver or shooting one in the face--all for the sake of gathering data to ensure that innocent civilians who are hit in the face with nonlethal bullets won't suffer disfiguring fractures.  Do you think that the humanitarian benefits of experimenting on cadavers can outweigh any potential breach of respect for the dead?  Why or why not?

The heart, cut from the chest, can keep beating on its own for as long as a minute or two.  This, Roach says, reflects centuries of confusion over how exactly to define death.   Have modern scientific experiments on cadavers helped us to pinpoint the precise moment when life ceases to exist and all that's left is a corpse?

Roach says, "On a rational level, most people are comfortable with the concept of brain death and organ donation. But on an emotional level, they may have a harder time accepting it."  Some organ recipients even worry that they will take on certain characteristics of their donors. What might this say about how we link the physical human body to the human soul?

Roach concludes that "it makes little sense to try to control what happens to your remains when you are no longer around to reap the joys or benefits of that control."  Do you agree with her?

Let us know what you think of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The book selection for May for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.


"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be."


In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying.  But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century.  A diary is Nao's only solace--and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.


Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox--possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami.  As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.


Full of Ozeki's signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.


How does Ozeki seem to view the relationship between a writer and her reader?  What do they owe each other?  How must they combine in order to, in Nao's phrase, "make magic."?


Is there a way in which Nao and Ruth form two halves of the same character?


Suicide, whether in the form of Haruki #1's kamikaze mission or the contemplated suicides of Haruki #2 and Nao, hangs heavily over A Tale for the Time Being.  Nevertheless, Ozeki's story manages to affirm life.  How does Ozeki use suicide as a means to illustrate the value of life?


Responding to the ill treatment that Nao reports in her diary, Ruth's husband Oliver observes, "We live in a bully culture".  Is he right?  What responses to society's bullying does A Tale for the Time Being suggest?  Are they likely to be effective?


What lessons does Jiko try to teach Nao to develop her "supapawa"?  Are they the same that you would try to impart to a troubled teenaged girl?  How else might you approach Nao's depression and other problems?


Let us know what you think of A Tale for the Time Being.

Friday, February 24, 2017


For the March book selection the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. 



For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight.  Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family.  There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic.  Enthralled by Charles's assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her.  But she is wrong.  Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever.



Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century--from the late twenties to the mid-sixties--and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator's Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage--revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows.  With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure. 


One of the recurring themes is how Anne will choose to remember Charles.  How do you think she concludes to remember him by the end?  How does it change?


Anne's father says,  "and there's Anne.  Reliable Anne.  You never change, my daughter."  How does Anne change over the course of this novel?  Or does she?


Compare the celebrity of the Lindbergh's to the celebrity couples of today.  What current celebrities do Charles and Anne remind you of most?


Do you  think Charles and Anne were in love?  Why or why not?  Did that change over time?


Is Anne a hero?  Why or why not?


Let us know what you think of The Aviator's Wife.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Three Junes by Julia Glass for the February book selection.  Julia Glass's National Book Award-winning novel is fundamentally a story of family, and of the way that the bonds of love can also become barriers between individuals longing to connect.  But Three Junes also spans the final decade of the 20th century, and woven into the story of the Scots-American McLeods is a penetrating look at the circumstances of contemporary life.

Julia Glass is also a painter.  How do the style, structure, and descriptive passages of Three Junes reflect her artistic sensibility?  How do the various segments, stories and flashbacks work within the chronological text? 

Why does Paul, the steady shepherd of his family and newspaper, go to Greece first on vacation and then to live?  Do you think he really wanted to "drop (his memories) like stones, one by one, in the sea" (pg. 49)?

Part Two is titled "Upright."  Why?  Is uprightness a positive or negative characteristic?  Which characters are upright in the novel?  Who is not?

How does food--its smells, textures, and tastes--weave its way into all three parts of the novel?  Why does the author vividly spell out the menus and recipes for us at all the critical meals?  Which dishes are most memorable?

Let us know what you think of Three Junes.