Month: January 2017

Staff Pick: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Picture of DonnaThe successful HGTV show, Fixer Upper, stars the upbeat couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Magnolia Story is about their interesting lives and a lot of ups and downs with running their decorating, retail and real estate businesses. In their own words, they have learned that with change comes opportunities and contentment in the journey. Hope you enjoy.

Staff Resolution Feature: Adding Style Variety to My Book Diet

Winter Reading image

One feature of this year’s Adult Winter Reading is that you decide your own reading resolutions. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, we’ll cheer you on! To help inspire and spark ideas, we’ll be sharing resolutions here every week, so keep checking back to see what other resolute readers are striving to achieve!

Who: Linda from IT Services

What is your reading resolution?

My Reading Resolution for the Winter Reading Program is to read five different genres or styles of books. There have been so many great mystery/thriller/psychological novels recently that I have been reading a lot of those, so I decided I wanted to return to reading a wider variety of books.

What are you thinking of reading to complete your resolution?

So far I have read a diary format novel, a graphic novel, and an alternative history novel. Next I plan to read a non-fiction study of animal behavior.

Have you completed a resolution yet? How did it go?

I enjoyed Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá even though I seldom read graphic novels. I found it to be a moving, thought-provoking story.  And the graphic design and choice of color palettes in the various sections strongly evoked the emotions being portrayed.


Now it’s your turn!
Share your reading resolutions on the MPPL Facebook page, on Twitter, or in person at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services Desk.

Book Discussion Questions: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

Title: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion
Author:  Fannie Flagg
Page Count: 347 pages
Genre: Southern Fiction, Historical Fiction
Tone: Heartwarming, Funny, Leisurely-Paced

Summary:
The best-selling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe presents a hilarious new mystery that, spanning decades, generations and America in the 1940s and today, centers around five women who worked in a Phillips 66 gas station during the WWII years.

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:  2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. How did you like the book? What about it left a lasting impression on you?

2. What, if any, were your favorite moments? How about least favorite moments?

3. After learning she was adopted Sookie said, “I’m an entirely different person than I was, even a few minutes ago. Everything has changed.” Sookie goes from identifying as a Southern Methodist English person to now identifying as Polish and Catholic. Why do people generally try to identify themselves in such short descriptors?

4. How has how we identify ourselves changed or not changed over the years?

5. Why was Lenore so obsessed with what side of the family Sookie’s traits came from?

6. What are Sookie’s similarities to Lenore? Differences?

7. Is Lenore a realistic character?

8. Why didn’t Sookie tell Lenore she was adopted?

9. If you were Sookie, would you have told Lenore you knew you were adopted? Why or why not?

10. If Sookie never learned about her adoption, would her vision of Lenore ever change?

11. How did Sookie’s relationship with her kids differ from Sookie’s relationship with her mom?

12. A lot of this book focuses on how Sookie feels about her mother. How did Sookie feel about her father? How do you feel about her father?

13. How were the men treated in this book? (Buck, Earle, Sookie’s father)

14. We don’t really see much of Winks. What was his role in the book? Did you like the letters?

15. Were you surprised to learn about the WASPs? Why are they not more known in history?

16. How did the WASP’s storyline impact your reading of Sookie’s storyline?

17. How did Sookie view Lenore differently by the end of the book?

18. What, if any, are the similarities between Lenore and Fritzi?

19. What do you think about the relationship between the psychiatrist and Sookie?

20. What makes this book Southern?

21. A lot of people said they didn’t like this book because they disliked the characters. Can you like a book and not like the characters? In what situations is that the case or not the case? Where do you draw the line for yourself?

22. Were you mad that Fritzi lied about Sookie’s mother’s death? Why did she lie?

23. Did reading The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion leave you changed in any fashion?

24. If you had to describe this book in just one word, what would it be?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Washington Post review
LitLovers discussion guide
CBS Specials: Remembering the WASPS (video)
Video chat with Fannie Flagg and Southern Living
History of filling stations in America
Information on the Women of World War II

READALIKES:

Everything she thought she wanted book coverEverything She Thought She Wanted
by Elizabeth Buchan

Astor Place Vintage book coverAstor Place Vintage
by Stephanie Lehmann

Staff Pick: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Picture of NancyH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a deeply personal memoir about grief, falconry, and T. H. White.  A unique combination for sure, but Macdonald masterfully blends these threads into an engrossing work of art.  I highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by the author herself for a particularly mesmerizing experience.

Audio is also available on Hoopla.

Staff Resolution Feature: Trying Graphic Novels for the First Time

Winter Reading image

One feature of this year’s Adult Winter Reading is that you decide your own reading resolutions. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, we’ll cheer you on! To help inspire and spark ideas, we’ll be sharing resolutions here every week, so keep checking back to see what other resolute readers are striving to achieve!

Picture of AnneWho: Anne from Research Services

What is one of your reading resolutions?

My resolution was pretty simple–to read a genre other than mystery or general historical fiction. I’ve read graphic novels before but thought I’d try another one. The Exile by Diana Gabaldon caught my eye. The illustrations were dazzling and detailed and the story swept me into a Scotland centuries in the past. It was a good experience; I will keep trying different graphic novels just to have a more cinematic reading experience.

Why did you choose that?

I thought I was getting in a rut in my reading experience. I see so many books in my work at the Library and I find I do not read as widely as I’d like. I thought I’d change that a little this year.

What are you thinking of reading to complete your other resolutions?

I may try reading a science fiction or fantasy novel. To balance that I’ll read a non-fiction book, perhaps a biography. There is so much to choose at MPPL!


Now it’s your turn!
Share your reading resolutions on the MPPL Facebook page, on Twitter, or in person at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services Desk.

Fiction: Beautiful by Christina Lauren

Beautiful Book CoverPippa, brokenhearted from her boyfriend having an affair, is on her way from London for a trip with her friends in America. Jensen is a serious and overworked businessman whose sister is trying to get him to relax. A chance encounter between the two mid-twenty-year-olds sets the tone for the beginning of a new adventure that turns both of their lives upside down.

In Beautiful, fans of Christina Lauren’s series and new readers alike will find a mix of steamy romance, self-discovery and humor along with all of the hi-jinks of friends vacationing together.

Staff Resolution Feature: Finishing a Trilogy and Scratching a Serial Itch

Winter Reading image

One feature of this year’s Adult Winter Reading is that you decide your own reading resolutions. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, we’ll cheer you on! To help inspire and spark ideas, we’ll be sharing resolutions here every week, so keep checking back to see what other resolute readers are striving to achieve!

Who: Cathleen from Fiction/AV/Teen Services

What are some of your reading resolutions?

This is the season that I will a) make time to finish the third audiobook of a fascinating trilogy and b) finally try a recommended book for fans of the first season of the podcast Serial.

Why did you choose those?

The first two books of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy repeatedly took my breath away — both for the what-is-happening story beats and for the exceptional performances of the audio narrators. I delayed the third, Acceptance, only because I wanted time to reflect and ready myself for where it takes me next. It seems prime timing to indulge before the first movie adaptation (with Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez!) is released later this year.

I miss the addictive true crime storytelling of Serial‘s first season, and one of the aspects that hooked me was the reporter’s shifting dynamic with the story she was investigating. We’ve recommended The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm as an earlier work that examines that same phenomenon, and it’s time I experienced it firsthand.


Now it’s your turn!
Share your reading resolutions on the MPPL Facebook page, on Twitter, or in person at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services Desk.

Book Discussion Questions: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Girl on the Train book coverTitle:  The Girl on the Train
Author:  Paula Hawkins
Page Count: 323 pages
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Crime Fiction
Tone:  Compelling, Tense, Disturbing

Summary:
Rachel sees the same couple breakfasting on their deck each morning as she passes by in her commuter train. She thinks their life looks perfect until, one day, she sees something shocking. The train moves on immediately, but she can’t keep it to herself and informs the police. Has she done more harm than good?

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:  2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. The Girl on the Train debuted as #1 on the NYT Bestseller Fiction List and has continued to break sales and library checkout records. In your opinion, what is it about this book that captured the interest of millions of readers worldwide?

2. Many complain that Rachel is unlikable. Do you agree? How important to your enjoyment of a book depends on whether you like a main character? Does your response differ if the difficult character is male or female?

3. Others maintain that relatability is more important than likability. Is Rachel relatable to you? Do you understand her choices? Do you care what happens to her?

4. Many psychological thrillers of recent years incorporate uncertain memory as a major factor. What is it about amnesia or compromised memory that works so well in these stories?

5. Do you react differently to Rachel’s memory issues because they are her own fault?

6. Would the story have worked without Rachel’s multiple personal issues: a ‘stable’ commuter who notices out the window, for instance?

7. It has been suggested that Rachel is symbolic of our voyeuristic tendencies – both as individuals and as a society. Is this fair?

8. What does Rachel gain from her involvement in the investigation? What does it cost her?

9. Was the choice to use multiple perspectives effective? One review complained that the lack of distinction confuses the reader. How would you respond?

10. Contrast the life Rachel imagined for Jess with what we learn of Megan’s reality. What else do we gain from Megan’s perspective?

11. Anna’s voice isn’t introduced until a third of the way into the book. Did it surprise you? Throw you off? How distinct is her voice?

12. Speaking of voice, why are only female characters chosen for point of view?

13. Are there characters (main or secondary) that you trusted or knew right away not to trust?

14. Did you ever believe Rachel had something to do with Megan’s disappearance? Did she?

15. Would this story play out the same in a US setting, or are the UK elements essential?

16. Hawkins has said that “the set-up is often the fun part” with scenarios and red herrings, but it is “a really hard thing to make that final act a convincing ending.” How’d she do?

17. What becomes of the surviving characters? What kinds of lives do they lead in future?

18. Would you characterize this as a cynical book? Is there any hope or positivity? Does that matter?

19. What, if anything, is Hawkins trying to say about marriage/relationships?

20. How are children or pregnancy (or barrenness) catalysts for much of the action? Is this intended to be cultural commentary?

21. The theme of self-sabotage is well explored through several characters. Is there any examination of recovery or redemption?

22. What did you think of Hawkins’ writing? Did you respond positively to her style, her prose, and/or her pacing?

23. Early in movie talks, Hawkins commented that she had no idea who should be cast as Rachel, as she’s specifically described as unattractive. The finished adaptation stars Emily Blunt, whom Hawkins publicly endorsed as excellent in the role. Does casting a beautiful woman change the tenor of the story?

24. Having “Girl” in the title has become shorthand to identify a specific type of psychological thriller. Is it problematic that a 32-year-old, divorced, hard-drinking woman is labelled this way? For contrast, consider the parallel The Boy on the Train. Why do you think this is so?

25. How would you characterize your experience of reading The Girl on the Train? Did you approach it as a whodunit? Would you describe it as a fun read?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

Paula Hawkins: By the Book via New York Times Book Review
Paula Hawkins: The Woman Behind The Girl on the Train via The Guardian
Interview on NPR: All Things Considered (audio or transcript)
BookPage feature on Paula Hawkins
LitLovers discussion guide
Three perspectives on the book’s settings: The Book Trail, shmoop, and a composite map
Hawkins’ next book, Into the Water, announced

READALIKES:

Pocket Wife book coverThe Pocket Wife
by Susan Crawford

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough

Suspect book coverSuspect
by Michael Robotham

Staff Pick: 24 Hour Party People

Picture of JohnLike any number of films “based on a true story,” the docu-comedy 24 Hour Party People frequently exaggerates, distorts, fabricates and otherwise obfuscates the historical truth of its subject matter (in this case, the Manchester music scene of the 80s and 90s).  The difference is, this picture does so openly, amusingly, and with a cheerful wink to its audience.