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MPPL's staff blog about books, movies, music and the talent behind them.

Staff Pick: The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore

Edward Kelsey Moore’sPicture of Donna C. new book, The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues, picks up with The Supremes still persevering through the reappearance of an absent father, the scars of infidelity, and an unexpected wedding, all while laughing and keeping each other (mostly) sane. The literal and figurative ghosts of the past stay with these best friends as they meet every Sunday in Earl’s cozy diner.

Book Discussion Questions: $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

2.00 a Day book coverTitle:  $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
Author:  Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
Page Count: 210 pages
Genre: NonfictionSocial Justice, Call-to-Action
Tone:  Eye-Opening, Anecdotal, Sobering

Summary:
A revelatory assessment of poverty in America examines the survival methods employed by households with virtually no income to illuminate disturbing trends in low-wage labor and income inequality.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2018 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

  1. 1. Think back to when you first picked up this book. What kind of book did you expect to read? Is that the book you read? How was it different?

2. In what ways did this passage from the introduction strike a chord: “Recent public discussions of rising inequality in the United States have largely focused on the biggest winners of the past decade, the top one percent. But there is a different inequality at work at the other end of the income scale” (xxiii)?

3. As you think back over the experience of reading the book, what made the biggest impression? Are there stories or issues or feelings that will stay with you months later?

4. How accessible was the book? Did you feel you understood what the authors were trying to communicate?

5. Would you describe this as a heavy read? A depressing one? An inspiring one? What words would you use?

6. Several of the illustrative narratives are set in Chicago. Do you think that affected your experience of them? In which way(s)?

7. “[Representative surveys] have consistently shown that between 60 and 70 percent of the American public believes that the government is ‘spending too little on assistance for the poor.’ However, if Americans are asked about programs labeled ‘welfare’ in particular, their support for assistance drops considerably.” (14) Is this understandable? Fair? What might be done?

8. After reading about the mischaracterization of welfare recipients (e.g., the ‘welfare queen’) and ongoing perceptions, how does this compare to our the current buzz phrase of ‘fake news’?

9. “How is it that a solid work ethic is not an adequate defense against extreme poverty?”(45) How might you answer this question based on what you’ve read?

10. Have any of you ever applied for a job via an online application? Did the scenario described in the book (pp. 50-51) seem reasonable?

11. How is lack of schedule flexibility a complicating factor once employment is found?

12. Were you surprised to read how extensive the selling of food stamps can be? If you were in that position, what would you do?

13. What roles can the library play in the lives of families who struggle? Give examples from the book – or from those you know.

14. Contrast the situations of the extreme poor in cities with those in rural communities such as the Appalachian regions. Did this surprise you? How accurate is the chapter title, “A World Apart”? Are there commonalities?

15. How do the families portrayed in the book find the will to keep going? Do they have hope? Are they happy? What does this tell us?

16. According to the authors, what has gone terribly wrong in welfare reform? Has anything gone right?

17. What role might the government play in creating and supporting job opportunities?

18. What issues were raised about housing? Are there viable solutions?

19. Several sources take issue with the premise and statistics cited in this book, and one is included in the resources below. What is the counter-position? How convincing are these arguments? Is there truth on each side?

20. Does the book have potential to bring about real change?

21. Does this book have potential to spark real empathy? What good does that do?

22. How did you respond to this statement: “Yet despite all they’ve been through, despite the abuse and trauma, the hunger and fear, despite the anger they carry with them at what they have endured, many of the everyday experiences of the $2-a-day poor are – truly—American to the core”?

23. Were you confronted with any personal preconceptions and/or misperceptions? Are you different for reading this book? Did it change your mind about anything?

24. What, if anything, can we do? Do you see opportunities? How do we not forget?

25. What did you learn from this book?

26. Are you glad you read this book? That it was chosen for discussion?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Detailed Group Discussion Guide from official book website
Video: Author Kathryn J. Edin on PBS NewsHour
Counterpoint: “The Number of Americans Living on $2.00 a Day Is Zero” via Forbes
Interview with Edin and Shaefer via The Atlantic
The Washington Post reports “What It’s Like to Live on $2 a Day in the United States
Reviews from The New York Times, Kirkus, and The Boston Globe

READALIKES:

Staff Pick: Brick

Picture of EvanIn the film Brick, you follow Brendan, a high school loner turned hard-boiled detective, who ends up a bit over his head investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. The byzantine social structures and confusing slang of high school meld perfectly with the tropes of classic film noir in this smart, witty, and twisty genre mash-up. It’s also the first feature film written and directed by Rian Johnson, who helmed the recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

DVD: Everything Old Is New Again

These television series have all recently come back for a reboot, but did you know you can check out the original seasons here at the library in our DVD “television show” section? If you’re looking to see how it all began, visit us on the second floor!

It was in 1993 that fans first met FBI special agents Mulder and Scully, and were quickly caught up in their pursuit of the paranormal and extraterrestrial on the sci-fi series, The X-Files. In the first season we see the origins of their relationship and reason why they grow to trust only each other and a select few more. The truth is out there, and the prior seasons are in here, at the library.

 

 

 

 

With its lofty influence on the cultural zeitgeist of the late 20th century, it’s hard to believe Twin Peaks only lasted two seasons, from 1990 to 1991, with the feature film Fire Walk with Me  released in 1992. The dark and mysterious happenings in the small town of Twin Peaks, Washington, were introduced through the finding of a corpse belonging to Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer. Her disoriented and amnesic friend is found wounded nearby. What happened to the girls and what is going on in the town? Start to piece together the clues by checking out season one.

 

 

 

The turn of the 21st century brought the mother-daughter drama The Gilmore Girls to the small screen. The debut of mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory, came in October 2000 and lasted seven seasons. The show explores the relationship between the precocious and academic Rory and the easygoing Lorelai, who became Rory’s mom when she was just 16 years old. This closeness in age adds an element of sisterhood to their relationship, with Rory sometimes assuming a more grown-up role in their close dynamic.

 

 

 

Although not exactly following up where the previous series ended, these current editions to long running series aim for much of the same charm and allure of their predecessors. How do they match up to these originals?

Dr. Who started nearly fifty-five years ago. The first Doctor, played by William Hartnell, introduced the TARDIS, the spaceship that can transport through time and looks like a British police phone booth. This passport to other times and other worlds takes Dr. Who and his companions through many engaging and sometimes dangerous adventures. Unfortunately not all of the episodes have survived, but most have, including the very first episodes that premiered in 1963, They are at the library titled Doctor Who: The Beginning.

 

Star Trek: The Original Series was first broadcast on television in 1966. It was viewers first chance to meet the crew of the starship Enterprise, with Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock, and Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy at the helm. This crew charted exciting inter-space courses and led its watchers to new planets, new beings and new societies throughout the Milky Way, (all while predicting a tremendous number of advancements that wouldn’t become reality for several decades.) Many subsequent series have come forth from this show, with no limit to the episodes’ plots, save human imagination.

 

 

Staff Pick: Midsomer Murders

Picture of DonnaMidsomer Murders, a British series available on DVD, started in 1997 and is still running now in 2017. It is based on Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby mysteries.. The settings are contemporary and quaint villages in the English countryside. Each episode has several murders, interesting characters and keeps you guessing who is the villain is till near the end.

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