#OneBookWednesday: Book Discussion Tips

By Julie B. RSS Wed, January 18, 2017

We are just one week away from the kickoff event to the One Book, One Philadelphia 2017 season!

On Wednesday night, January 25, at 7:30 p.m., you are invited to join us in Parkway Central Library for a free event to celebrate the program’s 15th anniversary as well as our 2017 featured selection – Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Get your calendar ready, because what follows the kickoff is an incredible eight weeks of programs. There are film screenings, writing workshops, musical performances, lectures from experts, and even cooking classes, all thematically tied by One Book featured selection and the companion books.

And because One Book, at its heart, is a citywide book club, sprinkled throughout the season are book chats, discussions, talks, and panels, dotting every neighborhood to help Philadelphians bond over a shared reading experience.

What if you haven’t read the book yet? You still have time! If it just isn’t going to make the top of your to-do list however, that should definitely not be a reason not to join the conversation! All you really need have are thoughts about how our society treats those who think differently...

Just in case, here are some talking points and guiding questions to help give you an edge in discussing the book:

  • Quick summary: Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, a math-lover who struggles to understand others’ emotions and non-verbal cues, discovers his neighbor’s dog lying dead in the grass. He sets out to solve the mystery, writing a detective story as he does so. In the process, he learns more about his family and himself than he bargained for, throwing his previously orderly life out of sync.
  • Much is made of Christopher’s behaviors that match those of Autism Spectrum Disorder (we dug into that topic in a previous #OneBookWednesday post); the original back-cover blurb of the book specifically identified him as having Asperger’s Syndrome. That description has since been removed and nowhere in the book is Christopher diagnosed. Author Mark Haddon has also said he did not write this to be a book about Asperger’s. Is it necessary or helpful to give his character such a label? Or do we judge people unfairly as a result of such labels, sometimes overlooking their other attributes?
  • Christopher is very literal-minded; he does not like either novels or metaphors because he feels they are lies—they are not true, in a literal sense. This outlook causes him greater turmoil when he discovers his father has been lying to him about his mother. Is lying ever justified? How does lying fit into our relationships? Our overall societal culture?
  • In addition to being highly intelligent about math, Christopher often has deep insights about the world around him and why people act the way they do. What are other examples of people in our society who see the world differently and have come to be celebrated for it? Are their people you have encountered for which the opposite was true—they have been put down for seeing or experiencing their world differently?

With those book bits in your pocket, please join us from January 25 to March 23 for programs that unite Philly around one book, one topic, one citywide celebration of reading and discussion.

For a full list of events, visit our online calendar. The eight weeks of the One Book season are also chock full of programs for children and families. (Look for the school age tag on our online calendar, or check out the Events for Children, Teens, and Families in our printed guide)!

We hope to see you soon at a One Book event near you!

**Check back every #OneBookWednesday during the Reading Period for some more One Book food-for-thought!**

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