S4L Book Club

S4L Book Club - Bel Canto, by Ann PatchettNext week, we’ll begin discussing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Chrissie will be leading us in the discussion, but, as always, anyone can pose a question in the comments or by sending an email to mail AT funkandweber DOT com.

Has anyone here ever participated in a Book Club before? (I haven’t.) Is there anything about books, in particular, that you want to discuss, like themes, plots, characters, writing techniques, etc.? Is there a type of question you’d like to see asked, or is there an approach you’d like to see taken?

Is there something about Bel Canto that we haven’t touched on and you’d like to mention or discuss?

Here’s a final canned question: When the hostages are finally rescued, Mr. Hosokawa steps in front of Carmen to save her from a bullet. Do you think Mr. Hosokawa wanted to die? Once they all return to their lives, it would be nearly impossible for him to be with Roxane. Do you think he would rather have died than live life without her?

I’ve answered this in my head, but I’ll wait to post until you’ve had a chance to answer for yourself.

And another of my own questions: What do you think of that canned question? I have my own answer, of course.

I know we’re just getting started, but I’m already having fun. I’m enjoying thinking about what I’ve read, evaluating it, and coming up with questions. I can’t wait to see what it’s like to have someone else initiating the questions. I imagine I’ll be forced to think a bit differently.

Categories: Reading

4 replies »

  1. I have never been in a book club before. I do enjoy analyzing books, but after the fact. I want to be free to read for the sake of reading. Using the e-book format is good when I know that I will want to discuss things later. I can mark passages that jump out at me or make me reflect, but don’t have to think it all out at the time. I like to discuss themes, plots, characters and writing techniques. I like to get to the heart of why I liked or didn’t like a book. Are my reactions always the same? Do I really hate a genre or is there something about how that genre is usually written that makes me not like it? Warning- I love Alexander McCall Smith’s writing and plan to discuss his technique.

    I need to go play with some out of town friend, so I will finish this later.

  2. Continuation. Pursuant to the canned question. I don’t think Mr. Hosakawa wanted to die. I think both he and Roxane knew that their relationship would not continue after the hostage situation ended. I think he did something spontaneously, perhaps without really thinking about it. He may really have thought he might prevent her death. I didn’t get a ” can’t go on without her” feeling about them. But then, I didn’t really know enough about them to judge that.

    What do I think of that question? I think it’s a good one, goes to motivation and character, but I think it is hard to answer for this book, because I just don’t know enough about these people. I don’t think that one was too “schoolish”. I am with Shelly on the “compare and contrast” one, though.

    I’m having fun, too. It will be interesting to take on a non-fiction book that definitely has cultural and social issues. Looking forward to it.

  3. Getting to the heart of why I liked or didn’t like a book is what I’m after, too, and I’m not sure I do that thoroughly on my own. Batting ideas around, and hearing others verbalize points I agree and disagree with helps me formulate my own ideas.

    I wasn’t crazy about the Hosokawa wanting to die question and wasn’t going to present it. I considered the answer obvious, but, of course, I can’t be sure what anyone else thinks.

    I think Hosokawa’s jumping in front of Carmen was impulsive. I think his chivalry was demonstrated in his thoughts about his wife, family, and work, and the action seems natural to him and believable. It wasn’t something he’d have to think about.

    I don’t think either he or Roxane imagined their relationship would endure beyond the crisis. Work seemed to be the true love of both characters.

  4. I saw the Hosokawa dying question as and Eh question. Take it or leave it, no biggie…not overly pertinent to the book. I agree with you guys that his jumping in front of Carmen was a protective move and not a thought-out one. There was no time to think, only to react. It didn’t surprise me at all. I don’t think he had a death wish. It merely was a response in a fraction of a second.

    Prior book clubs…yes. I can’t recall a single time that we’ve answered questions from a readers’ guide. But then again, our book clubs are loosely organized. I’m sure there are plenty of clubs out there who do use the guides. Generally, when we meet, we have open-ended discussions about things that struck each person…what they felt worked, what they liked or didn’t and why, why the person chose that book (we rotate through the club so that each person picks a selection). These discussions take interesting tangential twists.

    One thing I have to disagree with you about, Jen, is your take on Hosakawa’s work being his true love. Maybe I missed something here, but my perception was that Hosakawa devoted the grand majority of his time to his work. He was diligent, focused, and excellent at his work. But I didn’t detect a passion there. It was just what he did and did well. (This, I’ve come to understand over time, is my own personal relationship with school. Although I seem to do quite well (and spent a lot of time doing it), I really don’t like it. No passion.) I thought that, during his time of captivity, Hosakawa came to realize it, as well.