Monday, October 25, 2010

Work of Wolves - Fall Book Club Discussion Questions

Five discussion questions for the Fall book club reading (issued by Redmond Regional Library) can be found below. Respond to one or all of them, depending on what appeals to you the most. It is sure to capture great dialogue while discussing the work of Morris alumnus, Kent Meyers '77, and with UMM backgrounds in the group!

1. Kent Meyers opens his novel with a scene in which we are introduced to the teenage Carson Fielding and the wealthy rancher, Magnus Yarborough. What key elements of the novel are revealed to us in these opening pages?

2. Discuss the idea of Goat Man.

3. Which of the four characters—Carson, Earl, Willi, or Ted—do you think has the most to gain by rescuing the horses? Why?

4. In what way does this novel explore the concept of family and the ways in which families impact the individual?

5. What is the significance of the title, and how does that concept transcend the boundaries of this specific narrative?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Reading - Work of Morris Alumni

If you didn't have time for reading this summer, now is your chance to join the fall reading for the Morris alumni and friends book club!

The September selection was chosen as "work of Morris alumni". A few titles are listed below to choose from or please suggest your own ideas if you have them. Please vote for or submit your favorite title by September 20, 2010. At that point, reading will begin with discussion online to follow.

The Witness of Combines (1998) by Kent Meyers '77
The Work of Wolves (2005) by Kent Meyers '77
Twisted Tree (2009) by Kent Meyers '77

Prairie Son (1999) by Dennis Clausen '65

Waiting Tables, Dodge Bullets: An Actors Guide to Surviving Los Angeles (2009) by Brendan Brandt '05

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mountains Beyond Mountains Discussion Questions

Below are four discussion questions for the summer book club reading (issued by the publisher). Please respond to one or all of them, depending on which appeals to you the most! Also, remember the helpful hints in online discussion posted below in the first "discussion questions" post. It is sure to be a great discussion with UMM backgrounds in the group!

1. Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. How does he do this? Are his methods something to which we can all aspire?
2. The title of the book comes from the Haitian proverb, "Beyond mountains there are mountains." What does the saying mean in the context of the culture it comes from, and what does it mean in relation to Farmer's work? Can you think of other situations - personal or societal - for which this proverb might be appropriate?
3. Paul Farmer had an eccentric childhood and his accomplishments have been unique. Do you see a correlation between the way Farmer was raised and how he's chosen to live his life? How has your own background influenced your life and your decisions? (Has UMM had an influence on your life?)
4. Tracy Kidder has written elsewhere that the choice of point of view is the most important an author makes in constructing a work of narrative non-fiction. He has also written that finding a point of view that works is a matter of making a choice among tools, and that the choice should be determined, not by theory, but by an author's immersion in the materials of the story itself. Kidder has never before written a book in which he made himself a character. Can you think of some of the reasons he might have had for doing this in Mountains Beyond Mountains?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

July Memoir Selection

Summer is well under way, hope you are enjoying some warmer weather!
As part of our inaugural book club, alumni and friends have chosen to select a memoir book to read in July/August.
Please vote for one or two of your favorite choices. Then, three books will be randomly selected and popular vote will decide the July book selection. Please select your book choices by Wednesday, June 30 and the voting will begin on July 1st.

If you would like to view a list of popular memoirs, here is a link found on the web (

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Discussion Questions!

Hope you all are enjoying the book and it has inspired a desire for discussion! Below are the first round of discussion questions, please discuss at your leisure. Also, here are some helpful hints and tips regarding online discussion:
Book club members bring diverse and extraordinary experience to the process, each person involved brings depth and creativity to the discussion.
Writing your insights, thoughts, and responses to others in a way that's relatively public can be a little un-nerving at first! Although, it is also important to simply "be present" -- find ways to describe in writing what you might be doing non-verbally, e.g., nodding your head, smiling, or looking quizzically at someone. Imagine making a statement in person and having no response from the audience --let people know you're there, that you've read their posts!

Discussion questions for Three Cups of Tea:
1. There is a telling passage about Mortenson’s change of direction at the start of the book: “One evening, he went to bed by a yak dung fire a mountaineer who’d lost his way, and one morning, by the time he’d shared a pot of butter tea with his hosts and laced up his boots, he’d become a humanitarian who’d found a meaningful path to follow for the rest of his life.” What made Mortenson particularly ripe for such a transformation? Has anything similar happened in your own life?

2. At the heart of the book is a powerful but simple political message: we each as individuals have the power to change the world, one cup of tea at a time. Yet the book powerfully dramatizes the obstacles in the way of this philosophy: bloody wars waged by huge armies, prejudice, religious extremism, cultural barriers. What do you think of the “one cup of tea at a time” philosophy? Do you think Mortenson’s vision can work for lasting and meaningful change?

3. Mortenson hits many bumps in the road—he’s broke, his girlfriend dumps him, he is forced to build a bridge before he can build the school, his health suffers, and he drives his family crazy. Discuss his repeated brushes with failure and how they influenced your opinion of Mortenson and his efforts.

4. Much of the book is a meditation on what it means to be a foreigner assimilating with another culture. Discuss your own experiences with foreign cultures—things that you have learned, mistakes you have made, misunderstandings you have endured.

5. What did you learn about the culture in Northern Pakistan? Did anything surprise you?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Inaugural Book Club Selection

The Spring bestseller reading has been chosen by popular vote: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

Congratulations on the inaugural Morris alumni book club title selection! Enjoy reading and discussion questions will be posted here in three weeks. Based on several reviews, Three Cups of Tea is a wonderful book club selection as it inspires great discussion!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Selection

Spring is in the air and it is time to begin selecting the first book for the Morris book club discussion! Based on your feedback, the following categories were chosen by popular vote and books will be selected as follows (subject to change per the group):

April - Bestseller
July - Memoir
September - Work of Morris Alumni
January - Award Winners

Please post TWO of your bestseller book choices by Thursday, March 11 here by clicking on "comment" and the group will vote by most popular selections to begin reading and discussing! After the book is chosen, please post at anytime to fellow readers for discussion. If available, discussion questions will also be posted here for additional commentary. Happy Reading!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Initial Post

Welcome to the Morris Alumni Book Club!
Thank you for your interest. Here we will begin the process of creating the book club to best fit the needs of our group. Based on valuable feedback from alumni, we envision each book commentary to last approximately 6-12 weeks (quarterly), longer or shorter if desired.
Books will be selected via popular vote by the group per your suggestions. Meetings and commentary will primarily occur online at this blog, which is accessible for all alumni from anywhere through several email providers. We also hope to host at least one face-to-face meeting annually, if interested.

Please post any comments, suggestions you may have for the group here.