Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exciting Book Discussion Coming in January 2012!

The Morris Alumni Book Club is gearing up for an exciting read in collaboration with students and campus events, and you are invited! Michael Perry, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting, will be a visiting author for the 2012 Prairie Gate Literary Festival at Morris.
Book club members will begin reading Coop, the 2010 popular hit, in January with discussion involving students and campus community members in February. Members will have the opportunity to meet Perry when he visits campus in March 2012.

Perry has written for numerous publications, including Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, Salon, the Utne Reader, and is a contributing editor to Men’s Health. To sign up or for more information, email ( or call 320-589-6066

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Discussion Questions Posted

Discussion questions for the Spring book club reading, Running with Scissors, are found below. Respond to one or all of them, depending on what appeals to you the most or simply reflect on the book and/or others comments.

1. Augusten sees much of his life in the context of television shows and commercials. Which television shows and commercials were influential to you while growing up? If you had to pick a television show—drama, comedy, or variety series—that best described your own life, which one would it be?

2. The Finch family lives accustomed to chaos and filth. Do you think it’s possible to get used to anything after a while? Explain. Are their things about your way life that might seem strange to other people or other cultures? Have you ever had to adjust to a situation that initially seemed foreign or disturbing to you? Explain.

3. Why do you think Natalie and Augusten become best friends? What pulls them apart? Do you believe Deidre’s final accusation? Explain.

4. Dr. Finch believes that children should choose their own parents. Do you agree? Who does Augusten eventually choose? Did he make the right decision? Why? Are their any circumstances under which a child should disown his or her family? Explain.

5. Do you see Running with Scissors as a comic or horror story? Both? Explain.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer 2011 Read

The summer 2011 Morris book club reading is Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Peter Bremer, Briggs Library, has provided a few resources below to enhance the reading experience. Discussion questions will be posted here and also sent via email on August 15.

Augusten Burroughs Biography [Author's website]

Augusten Burroughs interview [NPR]

Augusten Burrough's Mother Speaks Out [NPR]

One Family, Three Memoirs, Many Competing Truths [NPR]

Burroughs Settles Lawsuit With 'Scissors' family [USA Today]

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 2011 - A Memoir

Summer is here and the weather proves it! I hope the season is treating you well and you are looking forward to another opportunity to read along with the Morris book club.

The July selection is a memoir. Of the many options available, I thought this site seemed to have a good variety of memoirs, but, as always, feel free to suggest your own ideas. I pulled out a few random titles below to get us started.

Vote for or submit your book selection by July 15, 2011. I will tally the votes and send out the July book selection at that time. Discussion will follow online and via email. I look forward to a great summer read!

I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Night by Elie Wiesel

Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

And Then There Were None Discussion Questions

Discussion questions for the Spring book club reading, And Then There Were None, are found below. Respond to one or all of them, depending on what appeals to you the most or simply reflect on the book and/or other's comments.

1. Discuss the various alliances that form throughout the novel—particularly those between Blore, Armstrong, and Lombard; between Armstrong and Wargrave; and between Vera and Lombard. How do these alliances affect events? What makes them break down?
2. Discuss the order in which the characters die. Why do some live longer than others? Do you think this is this entirely by design? Does the murderer ever seem to lose control of the situation?
3. Discuss how Christie portrays social hierarchies. What commentary is she making on her society’s class system?
4. Do you think that Wargrave acts justly? Why or why not?
5. What do you make of Christie’s decision to violate the standard rules of mystery writing by making it nearly impossible for us to solve the mystery of And Then There Were None by ourselves? How does the unusual plot affect the experience of reading the novel?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Book Selection

The Spring selection of the Morris Alumni Association Book Club is And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. Be looking for discussion questions in one month. Peter Bremer, Briggs Library, has provided us with resources to increase our reading pleasure. He also states:

"Note: The novel was previously published as "Ten Little Indians" and "Ten Little Niggers". It is the most popular mystery novel of all time. According to Google Books it has sold 100 million copies. It has been adapted for screen and stage."

Queen of Crime: Biography []

Agatha Christie Interviews [BBC]

Study Finds Possible Dementia [Ottawa Citizen]

Friday, April 8, 2011

April Selection

It’s time for another book club discussion with Morris alumni. Hope you all are enjoying the springtime weather and may be inclined for a good book and discussion with Morris alumni and friends.

The April book selection will be “bestseller” titles. A google search led me to a list of all-time best-selling book titles. These titles are listed below for suggestions or please submit your own ideas. Please vote by replying to this email by April 8, 2011. Discussion will follow online by May 9, 2011.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Monday, February 21, 2011

Water For Elephants - Discussion Questions

Discussion questions for the winter book club reading, Water For Elephants are found below. Respond to one or all of them, depending on what appeals to you the most. Also, with the upcoming release of the movie, please discuss what you are hoping will be highlighted.

1. Water for Elephants moves between a story about a circus and a story about an old man in a nursing home. How do the chapters about the older Jacob enrich the story about Jacob’s adventure with the circus? How would the novel be different if Gruen had only written about the younger Jacob, keeping the story linear and never describing Jacob’s life as an old man?

2. How does the novel's epigraph, the quote from Dr. Seuss's Horton Hatches the Egg, apply to the novel? What are the roles and importance of faithfulness and loyalty in Water for Elephants? In what ways does Gruen contrast the antagonisms and cruelties of circus life with the equally impressive loyalties and instances of caring?

3. Who did you, upon reading the prologue, think murdered August? What effect did that opening scene of chaos and murder have on your reception of the story that follows?

4. In the Author’s Note, Gruen writes that many of the details in the story are factual or come from circus workers’ anecdotes. These true stories include the hippo pickled in formaldehyde, the deceased fat lady being paraded through town and an elephant who repeatedly pulled out her stake and stole lemonade. Gruen did extensive research before writing Water for Elephants. Was her story believable?

5. In what ways is Water for Elephants a survival story? A love story? An adventure?

6. Are you satisfied with the end?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Water For Elephants - Resource Material

The winter Morris book club selection is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Peter Bremer, Briggs Library staff, has provided some resource materials to make your reading more enjoyable. Discussion questions will be coming in approximately one month.

Good reading!

Trunk Show [New York Times book review of Water Foe Elephants]

Sara Gruen Chats About Water For Elephants [from]

Step Right Up! [History Magazine]

Asian Elephant [National Geographic]

The Truth Behind Elephant Brainpower [BBC News]

Monday, January 24, 2011

The winter book club selection is Water for Elephants

The January book selection is the award winning Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. Discussion questions will be posted here by January 28.

It you do not wish to use the blog format, but would like to contribute to the Morris book club, discussion replies and questions can be sent via email and will be posted online for the group to read on your behalf. Or, just simply read along!

Additional information regarding Water for Elephants will be provided by the Briggs Library Staff. Look for it in an email and below when available.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Award Winning Titles

The winter season is upon us and what a great time to read a book with other Morris alumni and friends! Hopefully the holidays have treated you well and you have time for reading and discussion with the Morris book club to help pass the wintry cold.

The January book selection will be “award winning” titles. A few titles are listed below to help select from or suggest your own ideas if you have them! Please vote for or submit your book selection by January 21, 2011. At that point, reading will begin with discussion online to follow.

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen