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Staff Resolution Feature: Science Fiction by Diverse Authors, Current Events, and More!

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: Allison from South Branch

What are some of your reading resolutions?
I decided that for 2017 I was going to give myself a reading theme: Science Fiction by Diverse Authors!

2- Why did you choose that?
I used to read science fiction quite avidly, and when Library Journal published a mini-article on Diverse Authors within the SF/Fantasy genre, my interest was piqued! At the end of last year I read The Three-Body Problem by Ken Liu, and wanted to keep going in that vein…. Here’s the thing…I got a little distracted since deciding on that theme, so here are my one-off resolutions from the last few weeks….

Something with feminism! Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Something in Spanish! Afrodita by Isabel Allende
Something about gender! None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Something about current events! Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

3- Have you completed a resolution yet? How did it go?
I am finally reading Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, which totally falls under my original reading resolution, and am enjoying it so far! It’s set in Nigeria, and I love how carefully she builds suspense, piece by piece!


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 Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Dovekeepers book coverTitle:  The Dovekeepers
Author:  Alice Hoffman
Page Count: 505 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Tone:  Lyrical, Thought-provoking, Haunting

Summary:
In 70 CE, 900 Jews held out against armies of Romans on a mountain in Masada. According to an ancient historian, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic event, Hoffman weaves a tale of four bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path.

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. Who was your favorite character and why?

Yael’s Story

2. What had Yael’s life been like when we first meet her?

3. Why was her red hair so important?

4. What does Yael do to break free of Sia and her attempts to ruin her pregnancy? Do you think that acts of contrition have power?

5. Yael says of Ben Simon that of all the people he murdered, he did his best work on me. What did she mean? Why did she then remember him with love?

6. Yael’s father says that he sees her mom when he looks at her, but he treats her horribly. Shouldn’t this have made him more loving?

7. Why did Yael see her pregnancy as a gift instead of another burden in her sad life?

8. What about the Man from the North? Why was he important to the story?

Revka’s (the Baker’s Wife) Story

9. Her story opens with sorrowful looking back. She says, “I didn’t understand what the wind was capable of and how we must bow before it, grateful no matter where it takes us.” What has happened to her?

10. Hoffman does not hold back the details in the rape and torture scene of Zara. Why might the author have made this choice? What was your reaction?

11. Yoav becomes the Man from the Valley, apparently driven by his sorrow to distance himself from his sons and court death in battle. Revka seems to understand. What was your response to how he chose to deal with his grief?

12. It seems like a generous thing that Revka would have breathed her daughter’s soul into the mouth of her husband. Why then, does she call it the 2nd worse thing a mother could do?

13. How does she get back the voices of Noah and Levi?

Aziza’s Story

14. If Rebekah could have truly changed her gender, do you think she would have, or was it the things that men were able to do that she wanted?

15. Do you think she was blessed because she had such unique abilities or was it a burden for her?

16. Rebekah has four key men in her life. Who was most influential? Did any of them really love her?

17. What does withholding her given name say about the power of a name?

18. How would you describe Rebekah based on her relationship with her sister and brother?

19. The Man from the Valley was able to love Aziza because she was a boy. How did this thinking make sense to both of them?  Was he good for her?

20. Did Amram deserve the death he received?

Shirah’s (the Witch of Moab) Story

21. Would the story have been better without the element of magic?

22. What did you think of Shirah’s all-consuming love for Eleazor? Was he her equal?

23. She leaves Moab. What did you think of her decision?

24. Chana says you can’t have my husband and Shirah replies, “I’ve had him all along?” Powerful sentence, but it is true? What did she have?

25. In the end, was Shirah’s death a failure or a triumph?

General Questions

26. Do you have a new awareness of what daily life or warfare must have been like?

27. How did the women relate to God?

28. Were you surprised at the intertwining of superstition, magic ritual, and religious belief? Does that take away from their faith experience?

29. Were any of the father figures in this book reliable? Do you think this book was fair to men?

30. Hoffman has said that she bases her works on fairy tales because she appreciates their emotional truths, the lessons they teach about human nature, love and hatred. What seemed fairy tale-like to you? Do you agree that fairy tales teach valuable lessons?

31. Based on this story, what does Hoffman seem to believe about romantic love? Is it a positive thing?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

book review from The Washington Post
video:  How I Wrote [The Dovekeepers]: An Exclusive Interview with Alice Hoffman
audio or transcript: A Tale of Forgiveness from the Tragedy of the Masada via NPR
Masada description, photos, and maps via UNESCO
discussion guide from the publisher
additional questions from Southfield Public Library

READALIKES:

Secret Chord book coverThe Secret Chord
by Geraldine Brooks

Antagonists book coverThe Antagonists
by Ernest K. Gann

Women book coverThe Women
by T. C. Boyle

Staff Pick: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dan from Building Services suggests A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Tale of Two Cities book coverCharles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities combines a colorful mixture of history, adventure, and romance set to the backdrop of the French Revolution. The story revolves around 3 characters: Lucie, a British girl of French descent, her lover Charles, a French nobleman seeking asylum from the bloody revolution, and their friend Sydney, a banker who harbors a secret love for Lucie.

Dickens summons up multiple emotions in the reader as Charles is forcefully extradited back to France in order to stand trial for his family’s crimes. This novel is sure to inspire wonder and horror as the author masterfully depicts this tale of love amidst one of the most unsettling times in French history.

Staff Resolution Feature: Reading Books That Bring Excitement

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: Claire from Youth Services

1- What are some of your reading resolutions?
Ultimately, I wanted to read books I was excited about. So I picked up books and then figured out what resolution they could fit later. It just so happened that these books were in new genres, and from displays. I was also so inspired by one book that I read that I wrote a review for it.

2- What have you been reading to complete your resolutions?
I read a short story, The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante, and a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. These were new genres for me, at least, I don’t read a lot of them. I also read the new nonfiction young adult titles Dear My Blank by Emily Trunko and Making it Right by Marilee Peters, which I found on display. The last one I read was March Book Three by John Lewis, which truthfully, I thought was a new book, but maybe that could go under my own resolution, of reading nonfiction about social issues, which I’m really into these days.

3- Have you completed a resolution yet? How is completing your resolutions going?
So far it hasn’t been hard to find books that I’m interested in that will fit a resolution. Since I’m reading children’s books at the same time, I usually look for shorter, faster reads. Since I have a whole other month of the program, I may read a longer book next.


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: The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Bachelor Girls Guide to Murder book coverWhen life is feeling heavy, sometimes what we crave is a bit of light, cozy fun. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder may be just the comfort read to offer diversion. In this frothy series debut, author Rachel McMillan introduces two young ladies in 1910 Toronto who finagle their way into a crime scene and turn it into an opportunity to start their own detective business. Applying Sherlock-like deduction and finding that there is a market for delicate touch in investigation, Merinda and Jem make quite an impression. Add in a dash of humor, romantic possibilities, and snappy dialogue that helps buoy hope among some of the tougher societal circumstances. Fans of The Murdoch Mysteries will find lots to love.

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.