Virtual Book Club – Week 4 – Book Woman

This Memorial Day weekend, we’re talking about another holiday celebration: one that takes place in The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.

If you’d like to read along with us, click the link above to go to Hoopla, one of our e-media services. All you need is your card number and PIN to check out a copy of the book – no holds, no waiting! And what better to do over a long weekend stuck at home than to read? Now, let’s get to the discussion…

  • How do you think Cussy feels when she is ostracized at the Independence Day celebration, despite her change of skin color? Can you relate to her feelings of isolation? 
  • If Cussy was alive today, do you think she would still face the same kind of prejudices against her skin color that she did during the Great Depression?
  • Cussy has to deal with the loss of many loved ones in a very short amount of time. How do you think she handles her grief? Which loss was the most difficult for you to read?  

Some questions from the author’s website, some additions by me.

Check back next Sunday for our final week of discussing Book Woman! We’ll post the last batch of discussion questions and close out our virtual book club for May. Whether you comment or just read, we’re happy you’re here!

Virtual Book Club – Week 3 – Book Woman

Hello everyone, it’s time again for our virtual book club! We’re in our third week of talking about The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, which you can get right now from Hoopla if you click that link. No waiting, no holds, always available!

This week, we will talk about the community scrapbooks that Cussy makes, as well as a ‘spoilery’ question about Cussy’s genetic condition. Don’t read the second question if you haven’t read about the ‘cure’ for Cussy’s blueness. You’ve been warned!

  • Imagine you were making a community scrapbook like the ones Cussy distributes to the people of Troublesome. What would you include? Do you think these materials were helpful to Cussy’s library patrons?  
  • When Cussy receives the cure for her blueness from Doc, she realizes there’s a price to pay for her white skin and the side effects soon become too much to handle. If you were in Cussy’s shoes, would you sacrifice your health for a chance at “normalcy”? If there weren’t any side effects, do you think Cussy would have continued to take the medication? Would you? 

Questions from the author’s website.

We’re dying to hear what you think in the comment section below! And make sure to check back next Sunday for our next batch of discussion questions and comments.

Virtual Book Club – Week 2 – Book Woman

And we’re back – week 2 of our second virtual book club pick – The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson! That link will take you to an ‘always-available’ copy of the book through Hoopla. Let’s get right to it!

In the first few chapters, despite her protests Cussy is married off, even though she has a job as a librarian and can support herself. But her father, thinking he is doing what is best for her, gives her to a violent and angry man. The discussion questions this week talk about that betrayal and the aftermath, as well as how hillfolk have been treated throughout history. Questions come from the author’s website.

  • Missionaries, government, social workers, and various religious groups have always visited eastern Kentucky to reform, modernize, and mold hillfolk to their acceptable standards. Do you think Cussy faced this kind of prejudice from the outside world? Is there any prejudice or stigma associated with the people of Appalachia today?  
  • How do you think Cussy’s father feels after he marries her off to an abusive man? Why do you think he agrees to Charlie Frazier’s proposal in the first place? What do you imagine life was like for an unwed woman at that time? 

Throughout the month of May, we will be posting new discussion questions in this read-along book club of Book Woman.  Sound off in the comments below, or just read along with us. Check back every Sunday for new questions to think about, and read along with us! 

Virtual Book Club – NEW Title! – Week 1

It’s here, the day you’ve all been waiting for… the day we announce the new book for the virtual book club for May! This time, we’re taking a turn from present-day literary fiction to historical fiction.  

Our book club pick this month takes place in the rolling hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression. Most people are out of work, or killing themselves in the coal mines to provide for their families.  They barely have time to sleep, let alone educate themselves. But that is where Cussy Carter and the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians come in. Funded on a grant from the Works Project Administration, the Pack Horse Librarians braved the wilds of Kentucky to bring the people of the hills books and education. Cussy is not just a librarian, though – she is a Blue: one of the last blue-skinned people of Kentucky, whose skin is a cerulean hue from a unique genetic trait.  

Based on historical fact, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson shines a light on a fascinating time in America’s history, seen through the eyes of a blue librarian. And you know we just can’t resist a story about librarians! 

Just like last month, we’ll post new discussion questions each week on Sunday. Click the book’s title up there to go to Hoopla, where it is always available. No need to wait or place holds for this one! Our librarians may also pop in to add their thoughts to the discussion. If we have a lot of interest, we’ll do an online meet-up to discuss the book. 

For this week, let’s talk a bit about libraries and librarians – you don’t need to have read the book to answer these!  

1. The Kentucky Pack Horse program was implemented in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to create women’s work programs and to assist economic recovery and build literacy. Looking at the novel, how did the program affect the people in this remote area? Do you think library programs are still a vital part of our society today? 
 
2. How has a librarian or book lover impacted your life? Have you ever connected with a book or author in a meaningful way? Explain. 

Questions from the author’s website

As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and hanging out with us!

Week 5 – Virtual Book Club – Little Fires Everywhere Wrap Up

It’s the final week for our virtual book discussion of Little Fires Everywhere! So, let’s wrap this up by talking about the endings of the book and the show (they were in fact, different! Though the show writers did have the blessing of the author, Celeste Ng – see her Twitter feed for her thoughts on the matter).

  • If you have both read the book and watched the finale of the show, what did you think about the writers changing the ending? Why do you think they did that? How does it change the book, if at all? Does it make you think differently about the characters? 
  • What do you think/hope will happen to the Richardson children, Mia, and Pearl, both in the book and in the show? 
  • What is the significance of the title? To what do the “little fires everywhere” refer? 

Some questions from litlovers.com

Thank you everyone for sticking around to read and comment during this very scary time. I hope that this book club helped to distract you from things, at least for a little while! Make sure to check back next Sunday for the announcement of our next virtual book club pick! 

Virtual Book Club – Week 4

Wow, week four of this book club already – time seems to drag on and at the same time, go by so fast! I hope that these discussion questions have gotten you thinking about something other than the pandemic! So let’s turn our brains away from what’s going on outside and to that little duplex on Winslow Road:

  • The novel’s opening begins with the fire and then goes backward in time to trace events leading up to it. Why might Celeste Ng have structured her novel to begin with the ending and the most dramatic event? How does the reverse structure affect your reading of the story? 
  • How does Mrs. Richardson respond to the fire — immediately and then later at night. What does she come to realize about Izzy and her role in her daughter’s behavior. Does she gain your sympathy at the end? 

Questions from litlovers.com.  

Next Sunday will be our last week posting discussion questions for Little Fires Everywhere. In May, if the shutdown continues, we’ll pick another book to discuss, so keep an eye on this space for updates!

As always, play nice with others and have fun! Feel free to join the discussion or read some of the comments, and make sure to click the tag for ‘Virtual book club’ to look back on previous weeks. 

Virtual Book Club – Week 3

Welcome back to week 3 of our Little Fires Everywhere virtual book club! Each week on Sunday, we’ll be posting discussion questions to chat about in the comments below. Some of our librarians have already gotten the discussion started in previous weeks, and we’d love to hear what you have to say! 

For this week, we’re going to start talking about a few more serious topics: race, class, and society, and how they impact the novel and its themes. 

  • What were your thoughts regarding the Mirabelle McCullough / May Ling Chow case? Whose side were on? Did your allegiance change? 
  • How are class and race treated in this novel? What impact do they have on the story’s events and the way the characters respond? 
  • Describe Shaker Heights and its sense of itself as a refuge and “a little bit of heaven on earth.” Would you enjoy living there or somewhere like it? Consider why Celeste Ng might have set her novel in such a place? If you’ve been to Shaker Heights, do you think the way the book describes the city is faithful to the real place? Can you see something like the events of the novel happening in real life in Shaker Heights? 

Questions from litlovers.com, some additions from me. 

Whether you add your thoughts or just read the discussion, thank you for being here! We miss you too, and we’ll get through this together. 

Virtual Book Club – Week 2 – Book vs. TV Show

Welcome back to our virtual book club! Find the first post here. Each week on Sunday, we’ll be posting discussion questions for Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. 

For this week’s book club, I’d like to talk a little bit about the Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere versus the book.

Has anyone watched it? What did you think? I’m sure a lot of us (including myself, of course) have been spending a lot of time watching TV and reading, so let’s chat! 

  • First, the casting: did you think that the casting director did well? Does Reese Witherspoon fit Mrs. Richardson? In looks, demeanor, acting? Is Kerry Washington a good Mia Warren? 
  • As for the show itself, do you think that it is a good adaptation of the book so far? Do you like or dislike the changes that the show has made to the story? 
  • This one isn’t book-related, but I’m curious: what do you think of how Hulu is releasing this show: in the old-style episodic format, where they release an episode a week? Would you rather binge the whole thing at once? 

As always, keep comments courteous and civil. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say! 

Check back next Sunday for more discussion questions!

Check out our new Virtual Book Club!

It’s Sunday. What day of quarantine is it? Who knows – we’ve all been stuck inside for what seems like forever.

We librarians know that you miss all of our face-to-face library programs, but especially our beloved book clubs. So, good news, everyone: we are hosting a virtual book club! And the first book is… drumroll please… Little Fires Everywhere! (Click that title for a direct link to the book in our Overdrive e-book catalog).

Set in our very own Shaker Heights, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a gripping drama of the complicated relationships between Mia Warren, a wandering artist, her daughter Pearl, and the rich family of socialites that are their landlords. The streaming service Hulu also just released their adaptation of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

We’ll be talking about this book through the month of April and will post a few questions to discuss each week on Sunday. If the quarantine continues, we’ll announce a new book at the beginning of May, and so on.

We invite you, our lovely patrons, to make your voices heard in the comments below. Tell us if you think Mia is a scam artist, or if Elena is a crazy stalker! We want to hear it all, but please keep your comments courteous.

Our first questions are: 

  • How would you describe Mrs. Richardson and Mia, the two mothers in this novel? In what ways are they different? Why might the former always be referred to as “Mrs.” rather than Elena, while Mia is always referred to by her first name? Clearly it is done purposely by the author: how does it shape the way we feel about the two women? 
  • Talk about the four Richardson children, Lexi, Trip, Moody, and Izzy. Are any of the four more sympathetic than others? What is their relationship to one another? How does their affluence shape their outlooks on life?

Questions from litlovers.com.

Check back next Sunday for more discussion questions!