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Book Discussion Questions: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio book cover

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

 

Title: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Author: Terry Ryan
Page Count: 351
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Family stories
Tone: Humorous, Heartwarming, Inspirational

 

1.  Much of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio takes place in the 1950s. What in particular demonstrates how people and/or attitudes were different during that time?

2.  There’s a popular saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Was there anything you read that you can relate to life today?

3.  If this book were written today, what would be different?

4.  How would you describe Evelyn as a “character”? What was her most admirable trait? What about her was not so admirable?

5.  Evelyn very much believed in destiny. How do you see this belief playing out in her life?

6.  What do you think of Kelly, Evelyn’s husband? Did you feel any sympathy for him?

7.  Why do you think Kelly started drinking?

8.  Would you label Kelly as abusive? Why or why not?

9.  The concept of domestic violence didn’t exist in the 1950s (though the act certainly did). How might Evelyn and Kelly’s relationship be received today, in light of our modern understanding of domestic violence?

10.  Why did Evelyn never leave Kelly? Should she have? Would she today?

11.  At one point in the book, Evelyn tells daughter Tuffy it would be a waste of time to stand up to Kelly. What does she mean by this? Do you agree?

12.  Do you think the author – Terry Ryan – was too tough in her portrayal of her father?

13.  This is a work of nonfiction. Do you think the author took any creative license when telling her family’s story?

14.  What do you think Ryan’s motivation was for writing this book?

15.  What might be different about the book if it were an autobiography written by Evelyn herself?

16.  How would you describe the tone of this book? Do you think the tone was appropriate for the topics discussed in the book?

17.  Evelyn was a religious woman, and she respected clergy as representatives of God. Do you think the clergy in her story deserved such high regard?

18.  There are several integral supporting characters in this story – particularly Aunt Lucy. What was her role in Evelyn’s life?

19.  What do you think would have happened to Evelyn and her family if she hadn’t discovered contests and used her writing talents?

20.  After Evelyn won the Dr. Pepper contest, the children knew “From then on . . . there could never be a problem bigger than Mom’s ability to solve it” (p. 334). What would it have felt like, growing up as a child in the Ryan household? How did Evelyn’s children view her?

21.  Evelyn wrote a letter to college admissions, intimately discussing her family’s troubles. Why did she do this? What does it reveal about the kind of woman she was?

22.  After Evelyn died, her children discovered she “had” to get married. How do you think a lack of options affected Evelyn, her marriage, and how she raised her children?

23.  What are your thoughts on Kelly’s “legacy of atonement” (i.e., $60,000)? Why didn’t Evelyn spend it?

24.  On her deathbed, Evelyn said of Defiance: “It was a nice place to be. A saving place” (p. 341). What do you think she meant by that? How do you see the town of Defiance, Ohio?

 

Other Resources
Q&A with author Terry “Tuffy” Ryan
Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Website dedicated to Evelyn’s life (includes photos and Evelyn’s notebooks)
Roger Ebert’s film review for The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Washington Post obituary for Terry Ryan

 

If you liked the Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, try…
Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Losing Mum and Pup book cover    The Longest Trip Home book coverHalf Broke Horses book cover

 

 

 

 

 

By MPPL on May 28, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Movies and TV: Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay

Deceptive Practices DVD coverRicky Jay is a world famous magician and actor. The documentary Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay examines his rise as a renowned stage illusionist and the elder statesmen of magic that helped him on the way. A talk show regular in the ‘70s, Jay wowed audiences with sleight of hand and piercing watermelons with thrown playing cards, but Jay has come a long way. He has studied and owns thousands of books on magic. His performances are half illusions and half entertaining lessons on eccentrics, con men, and magicians through the last several centuries. Deceptive Practices will fill your evening with both history and wonder.

By Readers' Advisor on May 19, 2014 Categories: Movies and TV, Nonfiction

Edgar Allan Poe Awards 2014

The winners of the 2014 Edgar Awards have been announced, and thrills and chills fill these top picks from the Mystery Writers of America, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television published or produced in 2013.

Ordinary Grace book cover

Red Sparrow book cover

Wicked Girls book cover    

Best NovelOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Best First Novel by an American AuthorRed Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Best Paperback Original:  The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Hour of Peril book coverOne Came Home book coverKetchup Clouds book cover


Best Fact Crime: 
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower
Best Juvenile:  One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Best Young Adult: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

   The Fall DVD cover

Cover of Snow book cover

Best Television Episode Teleplay:  The Fall, “Episode 1” — teleplay by Allan Cubitt
Simon & Schuster – Mary Higgins Clark Award:  Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on May 7, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Movies and TV, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction

New: Fiction and Nonfiction

Every Friday the Library will bring you two short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: Fiction Books

Bingo's Run book cover The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris book cover The Truth book cover

     –  Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine

     –  The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

     –  The Truth by Michael Palin

     –  Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman

     –  Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

     –  Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell

     –  Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

     –  The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

New: Nonfiction Books

The Artisan Soul book coverA Farm Dies Once a Year Ha!: The Science of When We Laugh and Why book cover

     The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus

     –  A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford

     –  Ha!: The Science of When and Why We Laugh by Scott Weems

     –  DIY Dye by Loren Lankford

     –  Reproducing Racism by Daria Roithmayr

     –  Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change by Barbara Winslow

     –  I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia by Su Meck

     –  Neanderthal Man by Svante Pääbo

By MPPL on May 2, 2014 Categories: Books, New Arrivals, Nonfiction

Nonfiction: Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel

Thank you for Your Service book coverDavid Finkel follows his bestselling The Good Soldiers, in which he reported from the frontlines of Baghdad while embedded with the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion, with the ironically titled Thank You for Your Service. In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel once again follows the 2-16, but this time they’re stateside. Finkel compassionately looks at what we ask of soldiers when we send them to war and the consequences that war has on soldiers, their loved ones, and their communities. This candid, somber book is brilliant war-time journalism where Finkel does not put himself in the narrative. This is the story of the remaining 2-16 outlined by Finkel, but also told through their own diaries, emails, text messages, and medical reports.

By Readers' Advisor on April 28, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Fiction and Nonfiction: Awards Spotlight

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.  This week we invite you to check out a winner!

Are you drawn to the adventure and panorama of the West?  Try one or more of the Spur Awards honorees:

Light of the World book cover

Crossing Purgatory book cover

Spider Woman's Daughter book cover

Best Western Contemporary NovelLight of the World by James Lee Burke

Best Western Traditional NovelCrossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher

Best First NovelSpider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman

 

Have a taste for distinguished American writing?  Read a newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner:

Goldfinch book cover

Toms River book cover

Margaret Fuller book cover

FictionThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

General NonfictionToms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

Biography or AutobiographyMargaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall

 

Which titles have the respect of their peers?  The Los Angeles Times Book Awards are chosen by working writers to celebrate how reading is an essential way of connecting with and understanding the world in which we live:

Tale for the Time Being book cover

Cuckoo's Calling book cover

We Need New Names book cover

FictionA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Mystery/ThrillerThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Art Seidenbaum Award for First FictionWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

 

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on April 18, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Lists, Literary, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction

Nonfiction: Gluten-free Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond by Linda J. Amendt

Gluten Free Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond book coverLiving a gluten-free lifestyle does not mean that you have to forgo the loveliness of waffles, pancakes, and other scrumptious breakfast stuff. In Gluten-free Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond Linda J. Amendt showcases short, simple-to-follow recipes with full-color photography. In addition to recipes, Amendt gives tips and lists on what everyday ingredients can have hidden gluten. Your mouth will water over the cinnamon pecan bread, cranberry orange scones, and sour cream coffeecake. With 100 recipes that range from kid-friendly French toast to savory stratas, Gluten-free Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond will be a hit with everyone in your home.

By Readers' Advisor on April 10, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Book Discussion Questions: My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight book cover

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

 

Title: My Stroke of Insight
Author: Jill Bolte Taylor
Page Count: 183
Genre: Medical Memoir
Tone: Fast-paced, popular science

 

1. Why did the Jill Bolte Taylor want to write My Stroke of Insight? What response do you think Taylor wants out of her readers?

2. Who can benefit from reading this memoir (or other medical memoirs)? Do you think medical memoirs are important, why or why not?

3. What are other must-read medical memoirs?

4. What was the most surprising thing you learned about having a stroke in My Stroke of Insight?

5. Do strokes only affect the elderly? How old was Taylor when she had her stroke?

6. What made Taylor want to go into brain science? How did she continue her brain science career after her stroke?

7. What did you think of the pace of this book? Was it a fast read for you?

8. Were there any chapters you would cut? Was there anything about Taylor’s stroke or recovery you wanted to hear more on?

9. Have any of you seen Jill BolteTaylor’s Ted Talk? How was hearing her story live a different experience than reading it?

10. What are the warning signs of having a stroke? (p. 26)

11. When and how did Taylor realize she was having a stroke? (p. 37) How big did her blood clot end up being? (p. 35)

12. At one point, Taylor talks about her thinking process like this:

“…I visualize myself sitting in the middle of my brain, which is completely lined with filing cabinets. When I am looking for a thought or an idea or a memory, I scan the cabinets and identify the correct drawer. Once I find the appropriate file, I then have access to all of the information in that file.”  (p. 48)

Do you have a similar thought process? How does your thought process differ from Taylor’s?

13. Taylor sometimes refers to thoughts as “brain chatter”. How do you calm your mind when your brain chatter is going in overdrive? Has My Stroke of Insight given you any techniques to quiet brain chatter?

14. How long did it take Taylor to call for help, once she realized that she was in physical harm? Why did it take her so long to call for help? Who does she end up calling?

15. When Steve and Taylor arrived at Mount Auburn Hospital, staff put Taylor in a wheelchair and then put her in the waiting room. Were you surprised by this? Did Taylor have to wait long, why or why not?

16. Taylor says, “Despite the overwhelming presence of the engulfing bliss of my right mind, I fought desperately to hold on to whatever conscious connections I still retained in my left mind.” It is a striking realization, that something that feels beautiful and light could be so harmful. Were there any other passages in this book that felt powerful to you?

17. What does the right brain mainly control? What does the left brain mainly control? How are they different?

18. How many years did it take for Taylor to recover from her stroke? (8 years – p. 35)

19. Who helps Jill Bolte Taylor recover from her stroke? Does this person live-in with her? How would Taylor’s outcome been different if she did not have a support system?

20. What other lucky breaks did Taylor have in her recovery? (Rose Hulman Institute of Technology hired her to teach anatomy in her 2nd year of recovery, p. 126)

21. What are a few of the 40 things Jill Bolte Taylor said she needed most when she was recovering from her stroke? (Appendix B)

22. Taylor said, “…I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong its presence in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me.” (p. 120)  and then goes on to explain that it takes 90 seconds for a feeling to physically run through your body, causing a negative or positive response. If it takes only 90 seconds for a first wave of anger to exit the body, why do so many people stay angry for years?

23. Does Jill Bolte Taylor see herself as completely recovered? (p. 131)

24. Have you ever felt a deep inner peace like Taylor talked about? What helps you get to that mindspace?

25. Did Jill Bolte Taylor have a typical stroke experience? Does a typical stroke exist? Do you think this book will help stroke victims and their friends/families?

26. Are you an organ donor? Would you consider donating your brain?

 

Other Resources

My Stroke of Insight website
Jill Bolte Taylor’s TedTalk
Oprah interview
RealitySandwich interview
Jill Bolte Taylor’s list of 40 Things Need for her Recovery

 

If you liked My Stroke of Insight, try…

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly book cover     The Brain That Changes Itself book coverLeft Neglected book cover

By Readers' Advisor on April 9, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew

De-Textbook book coverSteve from Research Services recommends The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew by Cracked.com:

The De-Textbook is full of lists that will blow your mind. You’ll find out how little you know about real ninjas, Puritans, Thomas Jefferson, why you lay awake at night, and velociraptors. One interesting fact is that the symbol of the modern anarchist movement is Guy Fawkes, a supervillain who wanted to blow up the English king and Parliament. You’ve seen his pointed moustache on a thousand protest masks. In actuality this man was no anarchist. Guy Fawkes wanted to install a much more conservative government ruled by the Pope. He’s been misappropriated by a movement that doesn’t understand what he wanted. But then, most everything any of us think we know about most anything is probably wrong, and this book will astound you out of ignorance.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on April 7, 2014 Categories: Books, Humor, Nonfiction, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: My Pinterest

Joyce Staff Picks photoLooking for ideas on deck designs, weddings, or gluten-free cookies? Pinterest is your friend! It is a visually-oriented social network used to collect and share ideas for your projects or interests. Check out Michael Miller’s book My Pinterest for tips on navigating or enhancing your Pinterest experience.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on April 1, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Joyce, Staff Picks