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, 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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The book selection for June is Buy the Little Ones a Dolly written by Wisconsin Dells' very own Rose Bingham.

 In a small, close-knit Wisconsin community, a mother goes into town and never returns. It's 1952 and Rose, at 15, is the oldest of seven children, the youngest of whom is only 3. As hard as Rose and her father tried to keep things together on the home front, with the help of kind relatives and sympathetic neighbors, in 1954, the children were ultimately placed in an orphanage, and later split up into five different foster families. "Buy the little ones a dolly" were some of the last words Rose received from her mother in a Christmas letter, sent without a return address. Rose made it her lifelong mission to maintain contact among the siblings. Rose intimately escorts the reader on her journey through trials, tribulations, joy, and love. The mystery surrounding her mother's disappearance comes to light 59 years later. 

Let us know what you think of Rose's  inspirational memoir of her childhood. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

The May book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.  Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human--a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to claim the lives we dream of. (From the publisher.)

This book explores the nature of identity.  Who is the real Jason?  Is there a real Jason--could a case be made that he is not the Jason with a wife and son who narrates the story?  Out of all the versions of Jason, what makes him...him?

What would your alternate universes look like?  What dreams, in your own life, did you choose not to pursue which, if the events in Dark Matter happened to you, would return as alternate universes?  Ever wish that were possible?  How different a person might you be had you chosen one of those different paths?

In what way is Jason like the Box, the mysterious cube-ish chamber?

There are various universes that Jason inhabits.  Which do you find most disturbing or frightening? 

During his search for "home" what does Jason come to learn about himself, flaws and all?  What does he come to value? 

(Questions by LitLovers.)

Let us know what you think  of  Dark Matter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group for April is Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.

 Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny's lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.

In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew—and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own.

Though at the novel's center is an act of shocking violence, this is also a story about many different kinds of love.  What are these various forms of love?  What role does love play in this novel, and how does love contribute to the feeling you are left with in the end?

When Wade's memory begins to fail, Ann endures humiliation and physical pain because of his actions, which, to someone outside of the relationship, would look like domestic abuse.  In what ways does she cope with these episodes?  How does Ann interpret these acts of violence, and what does this say about her as a character?  Did you feel nervous and uncomfortable about the fine line she is walking between her love and her safety?

What are other examples of sacrifice in this novel?

Female friendship and sisterhood are major themes.  Think about the various relationships between the female characters.  Is female friendship the saving grace of this story?

How do you interpret the act of violence that is at the heart of this story?  Do you feel that Ann's interpretation is correct?  Why do you think the author chose to tell only as much as she did?  Why did she decide not to provide an absolute answer?

Do you sympathize with Jenny, in spite of what she's done?  Why or why not?  If you had to choose only one moment in the story that characterized Jenny, would it be her act of violence, or something else?  How do yo think she understands herself?

Are you surprised by the end of Ann's story?  Jenny's?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The March book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  When Breath Becomes Air is a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question--What makes a life worth living?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. 

When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both. (From the publisher)

How would you describe Dr. Paul Kalanithi?  What kind of a person was he?

One of the ironies of Kalanithi's life is that he postponed learning how to live in order to learn how to be a doctor.  But once he knew he had lung cancer, he had to learn how to die.  What are the ways in which he learned to live...and learned to face his death?  Would you be as brave and thoughtful as Kalanithi was? 

Once Kalanithi and his wife learned that he had terminal cancer, why did they decide to have a child?  Even Kalanithi wonders if having a child wouldn't make it harder to die.  What would you do?

How would you (or will you) go about dying?  How do you think of death--as something distant, something frightening or horrible, as part of the normal spectrum of life, as a closing of this chapter of your life and the opening of another?  What comes to mind when you think of your own demise?

Do you  find When Breath Becomes Air enlightening, insightful, spiritual, maudlin?  Would you describe it as an important book or merely interesting?

(Questions by LitLovers)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven  by Chris Cleave for the February book selection. 
    It's 1939, and the world is at war.  Within an hour of hostilities being declared in Britain, Mary, a headstrong young socialite, volunteers to serve.  She is assigned to teach children who have been rejected by the countryside to which they were evacuated.  It is in this role that Mary meets Tom, an education administrator in her school district.
    Their professional relationship quickly becomes personal.  But when Mary meets Alistair, Tom's best friend who has enlisted, the three are drawn into a love triangle that they must navigate while trying to survive an escalating war.
    Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a stunning examination of what it means to love, lose and remain courageous.
    Both Mary and Alistair sign up to be part of the war effort almost immediately after war is declared. What are their motivations for doing so?  How does each of them serve?  Why is Mary surprised by her assignment?
    When Mary first begins spending time with Tom, she describes him as "Thoughtful.  Interesting. Compassionate." (p. 41)  What did you think of him?  Are the two well suited for each other?  Why, or why not?
    In a letter, Mary writes, "I was brought up to believe that everyone brave is forgiven, but in wartime courage is cheap and clemency out of season." (p. 245)  Why do you think Chris Cleave chose to take the title of his novel from this line?  Does your interpretation of the title change when you read it in the full context of the quote?  In what ways?
    Early in the novel, while Mary is with Tom, she is "thinking how much she was enjoying the war." (p. 86)  Why might Mary enjoy the war?  What new freedoms are afforded to her in wartime?
    After seeing the effects of one of the air raids, Mary "knew, now, why her father had not spoken of the last war, nor Alistair of this.  It was hardly fair on the living." (p. 268)  What does Mary see that leads her to have this insight?  What effect does not speaking of his experiences in war have on Alistair?
    Let us know what you think of Everyone Brave is Forgiven.