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Today is the official launch of the new Bookclub-in-a-Box guide to Canadian author André Alexis’s Fifteen Dogs, which won the $100,000 Giller Prize in 2015. What’s more, just this week, the novel was chosen as a finalist in this year’s Canada Reads — the CBC’s annual literary competition about the country’s most important books. Fifteen Dogs is a short but impactful read that will make you laugh, think, and change the way you look at your furry companions.
Buy the PDF discussion guide on our website today for just $6.95 (CDN), and the digital file will be emailed to you immediately upon purchase. The Bookclub-in-a-Box guide (53 pages) includes complete coverage of the characters, themes, writing style, quotes from the novel, author information, and book club discussion questions.
About the novel: A bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks. André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness.
Today is the official launch of the new Bookclub-in-a-Box guide to John Williams’ 1965 novel Stoner, which has seen a sudden resurgence in popularity in recent years. Buy the PDF discussion guide on our website for just $6.95 (CDN), and the digital file will be emailed to you immediately upon purchase.
The Bookclub-in-a-Box guide (50 pages) includes complete coverage of the characters, themes, symbols, writing style, quotes from the novel, and book club discussion questions. Click here to buy it now!
Read a review by Marilyn Herbert, founder of Bookclub-in-a-Box, about the novel Stoner:
The question of why a “perfect” novel (described as such by reviewers) sat under everyone’s radar for 50 years is a good one. Originally published in 1965, John Williams’ novel Stoner was overshadowed by the likes of Mary McCarthy, Norman Mailer, and Henry Miller. It was also pushed to the back of people’s minds by the political backdrop of the civil rights movement. Then in 2011, it was translated into French and soared to the top of the literary stage. The phenomenon of Stoner is not media promotion, but word of mouth.
The book opens with the information that William Stoner, a farm boy, had become a teacher, married, had a child, and then died. This is the story of the life of an ordinary man. But as we come to see it, his was not an ordinary life — it was an individual life full of success and failure in all aspects, much like our own lives are. The novel is a deeply introspective look at being human.
Two ideas dominate the novel: life and literature, with the emphasis on the love of both. The structure is unusual, in that it opens with an obituary tribute to an unremarkable and little-remembered William Stoner, and then continues to unfold Stoner’s persona and relationships. The language is quiet and yet very powerful. The descriptions of Stoner’s development as a teacher, husband, and father is filled with disappointments, which Stoner takes in stride. Then, in middle age, he falls in love. This love affair cannot be acted upon because of the times (the 1950s) and the fact that he was married, but he endures and years later comes to understand that he is still capable of love and passion:
He was not beyond it, and never would be. Beneath the numbness, the indifference, the removal, it was there, intense and steady; it had always been there … It was a passion neither of the mind nor of the flesh; rather it was a force that comprehended them both, as if they were but the matter of love, its specific substance … it said simply: Look! I am alive.
This slim novel has many layers, discussing literature and language, isolation and loneliness, expectations and disappointments, love, war, death, education, and above all, change. John Williams plays out these themes using sensual descriptions based on juxtaposition of colour, silence, light, and dark. The writing is deeply intrusive on the reader’s consciousness.
In the end we, like Stoner, are faced with the question of what our own life’s purpose is and has been. Is any life ordinary, or can we look beneath the surface to see the beating heart of living and loving? Can we put that knowledge and observation into words, when words may not be sufficiently strong?
Stoner is a small but powerful novel and the character of William Stoner will stay with you for a long time.
Room is nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and the winners will be announced at the Academy Awards this Sunday. Get the PDF discussion guide to Emma Donoghue’s touching novel for 25% off until Monday at 11:59 p.m. — use the coupon code OSCARS.
Room tells the heartwrenching story of a young woman named Joy who has been held in captivity in a small room for seven years. She tries to make as normal a life as she can for her five-year-old son, Jack. The feature film has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Brie Larson), Best Director (Lenny Abrahamson), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Emma Donoghue).
The Bookclub-in-a-Box PDF discussion guide includes:
- Novel synopsis
- Author information
- A one-on-one Q&A with Emma Donoghue
- Character analysis
- Focus points and themes
- Writing style and structure
- Important quotes from the novel
- Book club discussion questions
Today is the official launch of the Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide for Khaled Hosseini’s latest novel, And the Mountains Echoed. Spanning decades, continents, and generations, this novel — from the author of Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns — is a powerfully woven story of the joys, sorrows, sacrifices, and betrayals that both bind and fracture families.
The Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide (60 pages) includes complete coverage of the characters, themes, symbols, and writing style, plus selected quotes from the novel and discussion questions to get your book club or classroom buzzing.
About the novel: And the Mountains Echoed reads much like a series of linked short stories, with each chapter focusing on a primary character who shares a connection, by blood or fate, to the novel’s central tragedy. It all begins in Afghanistan, when three-year-old Pari is separated from her beloved brother Abdullah and sold to a wealthy couple in Kabul. The consequences of this desperate act echo down through the generations, radiating from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and America.