Monday, May 29, 2017

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie: Week Four Discussion


Welcome to the final week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  What a month of reading it has been, so let's wrap up this conversation!

IN LIKE A LION starts with a conversation about the power of expectations.  "They expected me to be good.  And so I became good."  Do you believe that expectations can set up a child for both the good or the bad?

Alexie writes that the biggest difference between Indians and white people is the amount of funerals they attend throughout their lifetime.  Indians attend a LOT more.  Comment on this statement.

On page 217, Junior/Arnold shares all the tribes that he is a part of.  What tribes would you say you are a part of?

Throughout the book, Alexie shares many things ... laughs, raw art, controversial opinions, truth about life as an Indian, teen boy thoughts, and so much more.  By the end of the story, he also shares a lot of heartbreak.  What are some of your most memorable moments from the story?

On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest), what would you rate this book?  Why?

Thanks so much for joining in the conversation about THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN.  Be sure to check back later this week for more information on our next readalong for the year!

ICYMI:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three

Monday, May 22, 2017

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie: Week Three Discussion


Welcome to the third week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, IN LIKE A LION.  Let's do it!

"You have to dream big to get big."  This is what Arnold's dad told him to encourage him to try out for the basketball team.  What is one thing that your parent(s) said to you to provide you encouragement when you were doubting yourself.

Let's talk about the chapter REINDEER GAMES.  Within this chapter, there were so many little quotes and themes that we can chat about.  We will stick with two . . .

Arnold writes, "I've learned that the worst thing a parent can do is ignore their children."  There was really so much more to the parenting conversation than this comment, but let's stick with this quote for now.  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Why or why not?

Family was a huge theme to this chapter.  Family values differ across groups and cultures.  What are one or two values that you hold in regards to family?  How is this important to your own culture?

Let's end with on lighter note.  At the end of this section, Arnold begins sharing lists; writing lists were his way to grieve through his loss.  Choose one of these lists, and share what would be on your own list:  people who have given you the most joy in life, musicians who have given you the most joyous music, favorite foods, favorite books, or favorite basketball players.

Next week, we will be discussing the rest of the book!  Read to the end, and let's chat about our overall thoughts on the book.

Monday, May 15, 2017

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie: Week Two Discussion


Welcome to the second week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE.  Let's just dive in!

Throughout this section of the book, we really get to look in on an Indian's point of view because Junior heads to Reardan for school ... the only Indian in the school besides the mascot.  It is here that we get this first exchange between Junior and his dad . . .
"Just remember this," my father said.  "Those white people aren't better than you."
But he was wrong.  And he knew he was wrong.  He was the loser Indian father of a loser Indian son living in a world built for winners.
Shortly after this exchange, Junior shares one of his comics featured in the photo below.


These two items are in the first chapter from our reading for the week and speak so loud to a theme found throughout.  Share your thoughts on these two items, as well as your first reactions to Junior's first exposure to Reardan High School.

Junior meets Gordy, and eventually they become friends.  One of the conversations that helps to cement their relationship is one about books.  Gordy shares with Junior that books give him a boner!
"Well, I don't mean boner in the sexual sense . . . I don't think you should run through life with a real erect penis.  But you should approach each book - you should approach life - with the real possibility that you might get a metaphorical boner at any point."
What was your reaction to this passage?

Lastly, compare and/or contrast the friendship between Junior and Rowdy versus Junior and Gordy.

Next week, we will be discussing through, but not including the chapter, IN LIKE A LION.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexia: Week One Discussion


Welcome to the first week of discussion for THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie!  This week we are chatting about the chapters through, but not including, HOW TO FIGHT MONSTERS.  Let's just dive in!
  1. Have you previously read any work by Sherman Alexie?  If yes, what books have you read?  If no, what do you think about his writing style so far?
  2. Alexie does not beat around the bush in his writing, and is not afraid to tackle some hard topics.  In the first chapters of the book, he addresses race, poverty, and masturbation, to name just a few.  Did any of these (mentioned or not) cause you discomfort while reading?  Let's hear the details, as you feel comfortable sharing.
  3. Hope.  Junior's parents define hope as white.  He believes it to be nothing more than a mythical creature.  How would you define hope?  How has your experiences contribute to this definition?
  4. We end our weekly reading with Junior's best friend, Rowdy, becoming his worst enemy.  How did you respond to these words?  Now, let's consider his illustration that accompanies these words?  How did this addition affect your reaction?

Next week, we will be discussing through, but not including the chapter, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE.  I find the book to be an easy read, so it will be hard to stop reading here!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Introducing THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie

It's May, and what better way to celebrate the beginning of a new month than with the beginning of a new readalong!  Woohoo!!

This month, we will be reading THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie.  Before I get to the schedule, let me share the description of the book courtesy of Goodreads . . .
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

I believe this will be a fairly quick read, but I want us to take it slow and really appreciate the work of Alexie.  Therefore, we will be breaking the book up throughout the entire month.  If you cannot resist and must read on, feel free to do so.  Just be cautious of sharing spoilers within our conversations here on the blog based upon the selected readings.

Now, for the schedule . . . In this book, the chapters are not numbered; therefore, the chapters listed are what we will read TO each week. Once you get to the chapter noted, STOP reading (if you can) and join in the conversation.

May 8: How to Fight Monsters
May 15: Dance, Dance, Dance
May 22: In Like a Lion
May 29: END!

Grab your copy of THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, and come join in the reading fun!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Discussion: THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang

the vegetarian

Welcome to the April readalong discussion of The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I managed to read the whole thing during the Readathon, which officially makes it the first and only book I've ever started and completed in one Readathon. Yay! If you chatted about it online with me, thank you! I hope you had a chance to read it and that you'll participate in our discussion.

There is A LOT going on in this under-200-pages novel. Like any brilliant story, the setup is deceptively simple: Yeong-hye, a seemingly ordinary wife, decides to stop eating meat. NBD, right? Well, as her husband says, it wouldn't be a big deal if she was doing it for "socially acceptable" reasons like losing weight or because her doctor told her she should. Instead, she does it because she had a dream–a dream that gradually seems to infect and wreak havoc on the lives of those around her.

And now, onto the discussion questions! Feel free to answer any or all of these, or post your own burning questions in the comments.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS


  • First of all! What did you think of the book in general?
  • We never get to hear directly from Yeong-hye except in brief snippets of dream and memory. Why do you think the author tells her story through the lens of other people? Do you think this is effective?
  • Yeong-hye says she stopped eating meat because she had a dream. What do you think the dream was actually about?
  • Vegetarianism and fasting has been used as a form of social protest in the past, particularly among women (see, for example, "The Awakened Instinct: Vegetarianism and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Britain" by Leah Leneman and The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J Adams). Do you think this is what Yeong-hye is doing? Is she refusing to eat meat in order to stick it to the goddamn patriarchy?
  • As the story goes on, Yeong-hye seems to be transforming into a plant herself (or at least wanting to). Is this an art-imitating-life situation? It seems like her husband treated her as little more than a plant to begin with.
  • Yeong-hye's brother-in-law may seem more sympathetic to her than her husband, but is he?
  • There's a surprising amount of violence, both sexual and physical, in this book. Why do you think that is?
  • There are a lot of themes in the novel: obsession, dreams, conformity and acting "normal," choosing to act morally and choosing not to. Which of these themes stood out for you the most?
  • Finally, what did you think of the ending? Does it negate the previous sections of the book?


Before putting this discussion to rest, I HIGHLY recommend you read this review of The Vegetarian by an actual vegetarian familiar with Korean culture.





Thanks for your patience this month and get ready for May, when Tif will host a readalong of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Announcing Our First Ever Live Readalong!

the vegetarian

One of the reasons why I picked The Vegetarian by Han Kang for our April readalong was because it sounded like the perfect Readathon book: something short and fast enough that you could read it in one sitting.

Well, the Readathon is only a few days away and, because the library holds gods have not been kind to me, I haven't had a chance to read The Vegetarian yet. So I had a thought: since the whole idea behind The Vegetarian was to read it during the Readathon anyway, why not do a live readalong on Saturday??

I'll be using #TheVegetarianBBI during the Readathon to track my progress (in addition to the #Readathon hashtag) and I hope you'll join me on any platform you prefer: Twitter, Facebook, Litsy, Instagram, whatever!

Already read the book or aren't planning on participating in Saturday's 24 Hour Readathon? No worries, I'll have a traditional discussion post up here, hopefully before Sunday.

Thanks for your patience this month and chat with you all on Saturday!