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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.

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.