So, we’re halfway through our scheduled August book. However, from many direct messages I’m getting, so many of you have loved it and finished it already. How are you finding it? I, for one, think it is very clever and very sweet, and while it’s heavy-handed on content relating to one’s 20’s, it still packs in some reflections on general life that are really worth pocketing. Maybe you relate to it, too? Maybe you don’t. However you’re feeling about it, here are some self-reflections and discussion points to spend some time going through. (I had way too much fun putting these together.) Please remember these are optional and serve only to deepen your experience of the book and what you may be stirred by as a result. Buy a fresh new journal reserved for our book club, grab a pen and jot down your reflections to the questions I’ve put together below. We will be having our discussion forum on Friday the 31st August at 8pm, so mark it in your diary, get your pj’s ready and come join our (virtual, online) discussion where we will share some of our answers and generally debrief.
In the Introduction, the author says, “In my late 20’s, I got serious about happiness.” Can you relate to this feeling? She states: “I realised it was up to me to put more joy into my life, which started with my daily routine.” The author’s plan to create more happiness in her life was about her daily habits and tweaking her everyday routine. She loved to draw and so she decided to create one illustration per day and post it to Instagram to hold herself accountable. Do you like the sound of doing your own life experiment like this? What do you find joy in? What relaxes you? What do you love doing? What could you do every day for six months for yourself alone to experiment with your own happiness project of sorts?
What do you think of the author’s description of seasons on pp.14-15? In what ways do you feel yourself change with the changing seasons? How does viewing the stages of your life in cyclical seasons (instead of linearly) change your experience of them? She says, “Life has seasons that mimic the earth’s seasons: times of abundance, times of cultivation.” What season are you in right now?
Can you relate to the author’s lamenting over her “Other Me” lives on p.25? Do you ever do this? What alternative lives do you play out? Or are you fully, completely settled where you are in life? Do you think we are ever 100% cemented and content with the life we currently have?
What three illustrations did you absolutely love or relate to? Why are they your favourites?
What do you think about the author’s illustration style? How do her drawings and musings make you feel?
On pp.40-41, the author draws a huge city map of things she loves in her home town. What 10 things or places would you list as your favourite things about where you live and why are they special to you?
Throughout the reading of the book, did you miss or lament over the freedom and self-exploration so symbolic of your 20’s? If you could go back and tell yourself something or change something about that decade of your life, what would it be?
On p.52, the author says, “I was so happy to be alive that day. I was so happy to have that day.” Can you recall a day where you felt like that? Can you remember any details?
During the book, the author describes the first time she truly realised she was not immortal and that it would be the small, tiny things of life she would miss: “This was the first time it occurred to me that I was not immortal, and the first time I realised just how much I enjoyed living. Not because of triumphs and trophies, but because of things like pressing elevator buttons, wearing a sweatshirt and making pancakes on Christmas morning, finding a seat on a crowded subway, reading on trains, whispering when there was no need to, and watching a cat clean his ears with his paws.” Do you ever reflect on your mortality? What things would you miss the most about life?
On p.54, the author states that her tombstone would read: Here lies Mari, she enjoyed herself — and that this alone, to enjoy oneself, would be an “extraordinarily fortunate accomplishment”. Do you think people enjoy their lives and do you think they enjoy them enough? Do you enjoy yours? Do you think that is the point of life? That we are here simply to experience it, and to enjoy it as much as we can? What would you want your tombstone to read?
On p.55, the author describes a conversation with a fellow illustrator being a turning point in her life. What hobby do you like but are not doing? What did you always enjoy to do as a child? Do you think as a society we have gotten out of the practice of being creative or having hobbies because they are not “productive”? How can you change your life so you have more time to do that thing that makes you you, simply because you love to do it?
What did you think of the author’s “Life In Three Acts” illustration on p.89? Did you think it was clever? What point do you think she was trying to make? Did it give you a new perspective? How did it make you feel?
On p.131, the author draws a picture about ‘healing’, and the vessels which take one from isolation back to the world. Do you relate to those vessels? Is there anything else you would add? How does the imagery of the boats make you feel?
In the book, the author writes: “The great gift of heartbreak, rejection, loss – of any challenge – is that it’s the impetus to stop hoping you’ll be happy someday and start making yourself happy now.” How does it make you feel to read that sentence? She goes on to say, “Making yourself an adult is this ongoing process of transforming your life experience into the person you’ve chosen to be.” How does it make you feel to think that you can create yourself, and that you can be a collection of all your choices?
The book ends with the author’s final mosaic illustration. Why do you think she chose that drawing to end with? What kind of feeling did you have when you finished the book? Overall, what did it make you think about life? Did it change you in any way? Did it stir you to want to live differently at all? What quotes, sentences or paragraphs stuck out for you the most during the book? What was the one take-home message or insight you gained from the book?
Thank you so much for reading along with me. I have enjoyed it so much! Please join me on Friday August 31st at 8pm with your iPhones and a glass of wine and we’ll share some of our answers in a discussion forum over Instagram. (Make sure you are following @theredtent on Instagram to join in.) I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work but we’ll figure it out together! Also, it would be a good time to start sourcing your September book club book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman so you are reading to start reading on September 1st. I’ve been so excited for this one.
*If you are new to our book club, please click here for details and our reading schedule.