Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Discussion Questions

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Best-selling guide and companion book to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.
Which one of Marie Kondo’s tips do you think would be most helpful for you?
 Did you get rid of stuff after reading the books?
Which tip did you think was the most ridiculous?

Is there anything particularly difficult for you to get rid of?

Do you hold onto things because you feel guilty?

What do you think of her idea of an item ‘sparking joy’?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy are bestselling books. Why do you think people are resonating so much with these titles?

 Do you think having less clutter can bring you happiness? Is there comfort in clutter?

Why do you think you have clutter?

 Did you notice any cultural differences between Japan and the USA in the books?

 Why do you think THESE books on de-cluttering is such a success over others?

Were these books life-changing for you?

May Greendale Community Reads

May books are The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and its companion book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up both written by Marie Kondo. 
Participants do not need to read both books.

Meetup is May 25th at 6:00pm.            
Registration is required.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Discussion Questions for Daisy Miller


Discussion Questions
1. Henry James is as much an international writer as an American. Shortly before his death he became a British citizen in protest of America's unwillingness to come to the defense of Britain and France in the early years of World War I. He spent much of his adult life abroad, observing Europeans, Americans in Europe, and what he called "Europeanized Americans," those who had lived for so long in Europe that they had taken on many—although not all—European traits and values. Many of Henry James's novels and stories depict these three types of characters in interplay. How does James explore the American-versus-European theme in Daisy Miller? What are some of the ways that the Millers differ from Winterbourne, his aunt, and Mrs. Walker?

2. Henry James was always interested in children and young adults, and Daisy Miller is one of his most successful creations. She is more vibrant than sophisticated, "a child of nature and of freedom," as James describes her. Some have argued that her plain name (the unpretentious flower, the common profession) symbolizes her simplicity. Do you agree with this? Why does Daisy Miller make a full-blooded protagonist? Is Daisy Miller an innocent, unaffected young woman? Are there hints of her self-awareness? Does she demonstrate a desire to manipulate others?

3. In discussing the origins of the novella in his Preface to the New York Edition, Henry James tells of hearing the story of an innocent but eager American girl who has recently visited Italy and "picked up" a Roman of vague identity. What in this secondhand anecdote do you think appealed to James, inspiring him to, as he put it, "dramatise, dramatise!" Does James do more than dramatize? Does he moralize?

4. James describes Winterbourne, an American who resides in Geneva, as having "an old attachment for the little capital of Calvinism." When James introduces him, Winterbourne is in a hotel lobby in Vevey while he waits for his aunt, who is upstairs. Essentially, however, he is waiting for something else. How would you describe Winterbourne and why do you think he is susceptible to Daisy's charms? Is he an honest man? How does his surname fit into James's scheme of identifying characters?

5. Does James present Giovanelli as a complicated, fully imagined character, or is Giovanelli merely the proverbial mysterious stranger? Does James explore Giovanelli's subtleties with as much insight as he applies to Daisy and Winterbourne? What attracts Daisy to Giovanelli? Is this attraction plausible? Why at the end of the novel does he say, "If she had lived I should have got nothing. She never would have married me."

6. What do you make of Daisy's fate? Why do you think James set the novel's tragic event in the Colosseum?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Book is Daisy Miller by Henry James

Daisy Miller is a novella by Henry James that first appeared in Cornhill Magazine in June–July 1878, and in book form the following year.[1] It portrays the courtship of the beautiful American girl Daisy Miller by Winterbourne, a sophisticated compatriot of hers. His pursuit of her is hampered by her own flirtatiousness, which is frowned upon by the other expatriates when they meet in Switzerland and Italy.

Henry James, OM (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-born British writer. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.

He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character's point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction.

James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognizable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting.

In addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays. James alternated between America and Europe for the first twenty years of his life; eventually he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Discussion Questions

Barnes & Noble's 7 Things I Learned from Reading ...

Ageinista~ Live Better Longer 

Book Rags Discussion Information

5 Questions to Ask

  1. This book blends personal narratives and anecdote with facts and statistics drawn from research. How does this affect your reading of the text? What stories or facts had the most impact on you as a reader?
  2. How have the central issues of Being Mortal (i.e., mortality, end-of-life care, aging, and death) affected your life?
  3. Recalling the story of Lou Sander and his daughter Shelley and the conflicts Shelley faces as she navigates caring for her father, how would you handle (or have you handled) caring for an older relative? 
  4. What are the author's main critiques of nursing homes? What do you think about the tensions between keeping older adults safe and helping them live their best lives?
  5. Discussing mortality can be uncomfortable. How has reading Being Mortal changed or redefined your feelings about mortality? What uncomfortable conversations might you be willing to have now? 
  6. Recall the story of Peg Bachelder's decision to try hospice and have as many good days as possible before she died. Peg's definition of a good day meant something very specific to her: teaching music lessons and interacting with her students. What would your good day look like if you were in Peg's situation?
  7. Why do people have a difficult time choosing hospice care? How would you know that hospice care was right for you or a family member?
  8. The author describes three kinds of relationships doctors have with patients: paternalistic, informative, interpretive. What kind of relationship are you most comfortable with? What kind do you think is most effective?
  9. In chapter eight, Gawande discusses the necessity of courage when faced with aging and sickness. What do you think this means for someone who is older or sick? 
  10. Throughout the text, Gawande tells the story of his father's illness and death, including the rituals detailed in the final scene? How does this affect your reading of the book. What role do ritual, tradition, or spiritual practice play in your navigation of mortality? 

Being Mortal Book Discussion Questions

LitLovers Questions Click for Information

1. Why do we assume we will know how to empathize and comfort those in end-of-life stages? How prepared do you feel to do and say the right thing when that time comes for someone in your life?
2. What do you think the author means when he says that we’ve “medicalized mortality”? How does The Death of Ivan Ilyich illustrate the suffering that can result? Have you ever witnessed such suffering?
3. As a child, what did you observe about the aging process? How was mortality discussed in your family? How do your family’s lifespan stories compare to those in the book?
4. Have you ever seen anyone die? What was it like? How did the experience affect your wishes for the end of your own life?
5. What surprising facts did you discover about the physiology of aging? Did Dr. Gawande’s descriptions of the body’s natural transitions make you more or less determined to try to reverse the aging process?
6. Did you read Alice Hobson’s story as an inspiring one, or as a cautionary tale?
7. Do you know couples like Felix and Bella? The last days for Bella were so hard on Felix, but do you think he’d have had it any other way? Was there anything more others could have done for this couple?
8. Chapter 4 describes the birth of the assisted-living facility concept (Park Place), designed by Keren Wilson to provide her disabled mother, Jessie, with caregivers who would not restrict her freedom. Key components included having her own thermostat, her own schedule, her own furniture and a lock on the door. What does it mean to you to treat someone with serious infirmities as a person and not a patient?
9. What realities are captured in the story of Lou Sanders and his daughter, Shelley, regarding home care? What conflicts did Shelley face between her intentions and the practical needs of the family and herself? What does the book illustrate about the universal nature of this struggle in families around the globe? 
10. Reading about Bill Thomas’s Eden Alternative in Chapter 5, what came to mind when he outlined the Three Plagues of nursing home existence: boredom, loneliness and helplessness? What do you think matters most when you envision eldercare?
11. How would you answer the question Gawande raises in Chapter 6 regarding Sara Monopoli’s final days: “What do we want Sara and her doctors to do now?”
12. The author writes, “It is not death that the very old tell me they fear. It is what happens short of death…” (55) What do you fear most about the end of life? How do you think your family would react if you told them, “I’m ready”? How do we strike a balance between fear and hope, while still confronting reality?
13. In Josiah Royce’s book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOYALTY, he explores the reasons why just food, safety, shelter, etc. provide an empty existence. He concludes that we all need a cause beyond ourselves. Do you agree? What are your causes? Do you find them changing as you get older?
14. Often medical treatments do not work. Yet our society seems to favor attempts to “fix” health problems, no matter the odds of their success. Dr. Gawande quotes statistics that show 25% of Medicare spending goes to the 5% of patients in the last stages of life. Why do you think it’s so difficult for doctors and/or families to refuse or curtail treatment? How should priorities be set?
15. What is your attitude, as you put it into practice, toward old age? Is it something to deny or avoid, or a stage of life to be honored? Do you think most people are in denial about their own aging? 
16. Discuss the often-politicized end-of-life questions raised in the closing chapters of BEING MORTAL. If you had to make a choice for a loved one between ICU and hospice, what would you most want to know from them? Susan Block’s father said he’d be willing to go through a lot as long as he was able to still “eat chocolate ice cream and watch football on television.” What would you be willing to endure and what would you not be willing to endure for the possibility of more time?
17. As the author learns the limitations of being Dr. Informative, how did your perception of doctors and what you want from them change? What would you want from your doctor if you faced a serious illness?
18. Doctors, and probably the rest of us, tend to define themselves by their successes, not their failures. Is this true in your life? At work, in your family, at whatever skills you have? Should we define ourselves more by our failures? Do you know people who define themselves by their failures? (Are they fun to be with?) How can doctors, and the rest of us, strike a balance?
19. In Chapter 8, Dr. Gawande describes the choices made by his daughter’s piano teacher, Peg Bachelder. Her definition of a good day meant returning to teaching, culminating in two concerts performed by her students. If you were facing similar circumstances, what would your good day look like?
20. How was your reading affected by the book’s final scene, as Dr. Gawande fulfills his father’s wishes? How do tradition and spirituality influence your concept of what it means to be mortal?