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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.

Staff Resolution Feature: Buzzed About Books and Elizabeth Gaskell

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 check back next week to see what other people are striving for!

Picture of JennyWho: Jenny from Fiction/AV/Teen Services

What are some of your reading resolutions?

The two I am most excited to finish is to read a book I keep hearing people talk about and to finish North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Why did you choose those?

I keep seeing The Hating Game by Sally Thorne pop up on several of my friends’ Goodreads pages and have heard a lot of my co-workers talk about it. Their enthusiasm for the book is contagious! If I make it a resolution to read it, I can join in the conversation now while they are still buzzing about it, rather than accidentally push it off for other books.

A friend and I started reading North and South together a few years ago. We got about halfway through until we both got distracted from it, so it’s been sitting on my currently reading shelf for 4 years! I finally want to get it off my shelf and doing that at the start of 2017 would be a great start to my reading year.


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.

Resolution: Read a Centennial Book

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! One unique challenge you may choose is to Read a Centennial Book, but what does that mean? You can customize that, too! In honor of Mount Prospect’s Centennial (1917-2017) celebration, you might try one of these approaches:


His Family book cover
In the Land of White Death book cover

Read a book published in 1917

Such as…

His Family by Ernest Poole

In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic by Valerian Ivanovich Albanov

 


Lost Mount Prospect book cover
Randhurst book cover

Read a book about Mount Prospect

Such as…

Lost Mount Prospect by Gavin W. Kleespies

Randhurst: Suburban Chicago’s Grandest Shopping Center by Gregory T. Peerbolte

 


Never Been a Time book cover
Passchendaele book cover

Read a book about world events in 1917

Such as…

Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Harper Barnes

Passchendaele: The Tragic Victory of 1917 by Philip Warner

 


Mata Haris Last Dance book cover
Passage into Light book cover

Read fiction that takes place in 1917

Such as…

Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

Passage Into Light by Judith Pella

 

 


2001 book cover
Devil at My Heels book cover

Read a book by an author born in 1917

Such as…

2001, A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Devil at My Heels: A World War II Hero’s Epic Saga of Torment, Survival, and Forgiveness by Louis Zamperini with David Rensin

 


My Wifes Affair book cover
Warming Up book cover

Read a book by an author who has lived in Mount Prospect

Such as…

My Wife’s Affair by Nancy Woodruff

Warming Up by Mary Hutchings Reed

 

 


Left Behind book cover
Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs book cover

Read a book that specifically references Mount Prospect

Such as…

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide by Ann Durkin Keating

 


Man of the Forest book cover
Age of Innocence book cover

Read a book published in Mount Prospect’s early years

Such as…

The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

 

Staff Pick: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Nancy from Administration suggests The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

One in a Million Boy book coverHe is a strange eleven-year-old, with an obsession for Guinness World Records. She is 104 years old, an immigrant from Lithuania, who does amazing card tricks. When the boy appears at the home of Ona Vitkus for a Boy Scout project, they become fast friends, and Ona finds herself sharing things that she’s never told anyone before. Soon, they’ve concocted a scheme to get Ona into the record books, as the Oldest Licensed Driver. However, the boy dies before they can achieve their goal.

Agreeing to continue her yardwork for a few more weeks, the boy’s father, Quinn, is also drawn into Ona’s quest for a world record. As a result, Quinn glimpses the son he never really knew. This is a lovely and amusing story of friendship, love, loss, and dreams pursued, especially enjoyable in audio.

For other thoughtful and touching stories of self-discovery, try one of these!

Ocean Apart book coverAn Ocean Apart
by Robin Pilcher
Britt Marie Was Here book coverBritt-Marie Was Here
by Fredrik Backman

 

Stiltsville book coverStiltsville
by Susanna Daniel
After You book coverAfter You
by Jojo Moyes

Rosie Thomas

Create a Reading Resolution and Enter to Win Prizes

Winter Reading image

Have you been saying you want to read Charles Dickens for the last 10 years? How about finally starting to check books off of your towering to-read list?

Make 2017 your reading year!

This Winter Reading, make up to five of your own reading resolutions, such as finishing a book or trying a genre you’ve never tried before. Check in with us each time you complete one of your five resolutions, and you can enter to win a prize!

Three winners will be drawn every week for eight weeks, and you could be one of them! Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of starting the year strong.

There is no sign-up, but stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk to pick up a bookmark to keep track of your progress. Need help? We’re here to be your guides, whether it is to offer book suggestions, brainstorm reading resolutions with you, or cheer you on.

 

New Mystery Spotlight: The Hermit by Thomas Bydahl

The Hermit book coverThomas Bydahl narrows in on the life of Erhard, an older gentleman who left his child and wife to live a life as a hermit on the Spanish island of Fuerteventure. On that island Erhard becomes involved with a murder and is thrown into the technology adapted twenty-first century even though he has completely cut himself off from the modern world since he left his family twenty years ago.

This Danish crime is written in a distant third person narration, which positions readers as if they are sitting in a helicopter over the island, keenly observing Erhard as he slowly wades his way back into life. The Hermit is for the reader that likes an exotic setting, a fully developed character, and a slow burning plot.

Staff Pick: Hello, My Name is Doris

Picture of DorisHello, My Name is Doris is the hilariously awkward and thoughtfully heartwarming tale of a woman in her 60s deciding to take action in her life, specifically on her crush on a younger coworker. As a result of the depth of characters played by a stellar cast, the relationships Doris had with people rang painful at times, but they felt honest and allowed for moments of realistic redemption. The combination of comedy, drama, and romance in this made it an instant favorite!

MPPL Staff Favorites of 2016

Can you choose only two or three favorite items you read, watched, listened to, and/or played this year? MPPL staff can tell you, it’s hard to do! Check out below what staff members chose for the top of their lists this year and make sure to stop by the Library and share what your favorites have been!

This year three different books written by one author were chosen as staff favorites. Which author was it?

Picture of Allison

Book: The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
Book: Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coats
Book: Unexpected Afghans
by Robyn Chachula

Picture of Amy

Audiobook: The Fireman
by Joe Hill
Audiobook: The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Book: Last Days
by Adam Nevill

 

 

Picture of Anne

CD:Traveller
by Chris Stapleton
Book: All Involved
by Ryan Gattis

Picture of Caitlin

Video Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition
DVD: The Descent
Book: The Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina Keegan

Picture of Carol

CD:  Blackstar
by David Bowie
DVD: L’Atalante
Book: Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

 

Picture of Cathleen

Book: Underground Airlines
by Ben H. Winters
Audiobook: Hag-Seed
by Margaret Atwood
Graphic Novel: Daytripper
by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Picture of Claire

DVD: Jane the Virgin
Book: Furiously Happy
by Jenny Lawson
Book: Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson

Picture of Colleen

Book: Man Made Boy
by Jon Skovron
Book: Kill the Boy Band
by Goldy Moldavsky
DVD: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

 

 

Picture of Dale

CD: Hopelessness
by Anohni
Book: No One Gets Out Alive
by Adam Nevill
Book: Wolf in White Van
by John Darnielle

Picture of Denise

Book: First Star I See Tonight
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
DVD: Playing House
Book: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
by Fredrik Backman

 

Picture of Donna

Magazine: Time
Book: The Perfect Horse
by Elizabeth Letts
DVD: The Blind Side

Picture of Donna

Book: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
Book: The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
DVD: The One I Love

Picture of Erin

Book: 11/22/63
by Stephen King
Book: As Brave as You
by Jason Reynolds
Book: How to Grow Up
by Michelle Tea

 

Picture of Eva

Book: Daughter of Australia
by Harmony Verna
Book:Pokochalam Wroga
by Miroslawa Kareta
Book: A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Picture of Evan

DVD: Sing Street
Graphic Novel: Paper Girls, vol. 1
by Brian K. Vaughan
Book: The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
by Glen Weldon

Picture of Helgi

Audiobook: The Japanese Lover
by Isabel Allende
Book: The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz
DVD: The Jungle Book

 

Picture of Janine

Music: Hamilton: The Original Broadway Cast
Book: The Hating Game
by Sally Thorne
Book: The Trespasser
by Tana French

Picture of Jennifer

DVD: Somm
Book: Stiletto
by Daniel O’Malley
Book: La Davina
by Maria Callas

Picture of Jenny

Audiobook: Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue
Book: My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
Book: The Mothers
by Brit Bennett

Picture of Joe

Graphic Novel: Darth Vader vol. 1
by Kieron Gillen
Graphic Novel: Killing and Dying
by Adrian Tomine
Graphic NovelLove and Rockets No. 7
by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez

Picture of Julie

Book: Alice Adams
by Booth Tarkington
Book: The Mill on the Floss
by George Eliot
DVD: War & Peace

 

Picture of Linda

Book: Last Night in Twisted River
by John Irving
Book: Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch
Book: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
by Fredrik Backman

Picture of Marsha

Book: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
by Haruki Murakami
Book: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
by Nadia Hashimi
Book: Karolina’s Twins
by Ronald H. Balson

Picture of Mary

Book: Pretty Girls
by Karin Slaughter
Book: The Soul of an Octopus
by Sy Montgomery
DVD: About Elly

 

Picture of Mary

Book: Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan
Book: Still Foolin’ Em
by Billy Crystal
Book: A Great Reckoning
by Louise Penny

Picture of Nancy

Book: Tenth of December
by George Saunders
Book: The One-In-A-Million Boy
by Monica Wood
Book: Language Arts
by Stephanie Kallos

 

Picture of Nancy

Book: How to Party With an Infant
by Kaui Hart Hemmings
CD: Blurryface
by Twenty One Pilots
DVD: Longmire

Picture

DVD: Secrets of Selfridges
Book: Empty Mansions
by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr.
DVD: Central Intelligence

Picture of Rachel

Book: Irena’s Children
by Tilar Mazzeo
DVD: Amy
Book: The Book of Unknown Americans
by Cristina Henríquez

 

 

Picture of Rosemary

Book: 11/22/63
by Stephen King
Audiobook: Behind Closed Doors
by B.A. Paris
Book: Wilde Lake
by Laura Lippman

Picture of Sam

Audiobook: Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch
Book: The Martian
by Andy Weir
Book: The Residence
by Kate Andersen Brower

Picture of Taylor

Book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
Book: Library of Souls
by Ransom Riggs
Book: The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil

 


Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2014 and in 2015 as their favorites.

We would love to hear from you!
Write to us on Facebook or Twitter and share what your favorites of the year were. If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!