Book Club Kit: Before I Fall

Before I Fall cover imageBefore I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
First Published 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Friday, February 12 is a big day for Samantha Kingston: It’s Cupid Day, when all the kids at school will count the roses they receive to see just how popular they are. It’s the day of Kent McFreaky’s party. It’s the day Sam plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Rob. It’s also the day she dies . . . sort of. Sam is killed in a car crash on Friday, February 12, but she wakes the next morning to that same day, again and again. While living her last day on repeat, Sam discovers that she has a chance to do things over—to do things better. So what does it take to go from being a popular girl who can inflict a dozen small cruelties in a given day to being someone who will be remembered well in her own right? Samantha Kingston is about to find out.

Reading Guide:
ReadingGroupGuides – Includes a Book Description and Discussion Questions

The Hub – Review by Annie Schutte
Booklist Review by Krista Hutley

Author’s Website:

You Might Also Like:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
November Blues by Sharon M. Draper
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


We Recommend…The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Available Formats: Hardcover | Audio Book

The Age of Miracles is speculative fiction at it’s finest (think Margaret Atwood). It isn’t in-your-face science fiction, but simply a quiet coming-of-age story about eleven-year-old Julia. The author beautifully captures the heartbreak of the middle grades, while also exploring the societal changes that come with the earth’s rotation suddenly slowing down. A great debut and a wonderful novel for readers of all ages.

You also might like:

Book Club Kit: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
First Published: 2005
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

Reading Guides:
Lit Lovers – Includes Author Info, Book Reviews, and Discussion Questions
CultureWatch (guide by Joanna Richards) – Includes a Summary, Author Info, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’: Everything Is Included” by Walter Kirn
The Seattle Times – “‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’: Gimmicks Drown Out Power, Poignancy” by Michael Upchurch

Movie Trailer:

More from JSF:

If you enjoyed Extremely Loud… you also might like:

Book Club Kit: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Heidi Durrow - The girl who fell from the skyThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky
by Heidi W Durrow
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Rachel, whose mother is Danish and father is African-American, loses both her parents and is forced to move to a new city to live with her strict African-American grandmother, but when she is immersed into an African-American community, her physical appearance draws attention and Rachel struggles with her own uncertainties about her identity.

Reading Guide:
Reading Group Guides – Includes Author Info, Critical Praise, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “The Bluest Eye” by Louisa Thomas
The Christian Science Monitor – “Review” by Heller McAlpin
The Washington Post – “Review” by Lisa Page

On the Web:
Follow Heidi Durrow on Twitter: @heididurrow
All Things Considered – NPR – “Reimagining the ‘Tragic Mulatto’
The New Yorker – “The Exchange: Heidi Durrow’s Mixed Chicks” – Interview with The Book Bench

If you enjoyed The Girl who Fell from the Sky, you might like:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
The Color of Water by James McBride

Book Club Kit: The Reivers

William Faulkner - The ReiversThe Reivers
by William Faulkner
First Published: 1962
10 Copies & Reading Guide

The Reivers is a picaresque that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family’s retainers, to steal his grandfather’s car and make a trip to Memphis. The Priests’ black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey, for which they are all ill-equipped, that ends at Miss Reba’s bordello in Memphis. From there a series of wild misadventures ensues–involving horse smuggling, trainmen, sheriffs’ deputies, and jail.

No Reading Guide?
While there’s not an official Reading Guide, there are several resources you can try to get ideas for questions. If you write original questions, be sure to share them in the comments below!
Reading Group Guides – Fiction Discussion Questions
LitLovers – Generic Questions for Fiction

The Washington Post – “William Faulkner’s Southern Draw: The Reivers” by Jonathan Yardley
Goodreads – Find out what other readers have to say about The Reivers on Goodreads.

On the Web:
Nobel Prize Website – Includes a Brief Biography, an Award Ceremony video, and Faulkner’s speech
The Paris Review – A 1956 interview with William Faulkner
American Writers IIWritings of William Faulkner (video)

More stories from Yoknapatawpha County:
The Sound and the Fury
As I Lay Dying
Light in August

If you enjoyed The Reivers, you might like:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Book Club Kit: Lipstick in Afghanistan

Lipstick in AfghanistanLipstick in Afghanistan
by Roberta Gately
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship.

Reading Guide:
Simon and Schuster – Includes an Intro to the Book, an Author Interview, and Discussion Questions

Publishers WeeklyReviewed on 08/23/2010
Goodreads – Find out what fellow readers thought about Lipstick in Afghanistan.

On the Web:
Official Website –
Friend Roberta Gately on Facebook or Follow her on Twitter.

If you enjoyed Lipstick in Afghanistan, you might like these:
The Kite Runner (Book Club Kit) by Khaled Hosseini
A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Three Cups of Tea (Book Club Kit) by Greg Mortenson

Book Club Kit: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

The Hummingbird's DaughterThe Hummingbird’s Daughter
by Luís Alberto Urrea
First Published: 2005
10 Copies & Reading Guide

It is 1889, and civil war is brewing in Mexico. A 16-year-old girl, Teresita, illegitimate but beloved daughter of the wealthy and powerful rancher Don Tomas Urrea, wakes from the strangest dream–a dream that she has died. Only it was not a dream. This passionate and rebellious young woman has arisen from death with a power to heal–but it will take all her faith to endure the trials that await her and her family now that she has become the Saint of Cabora.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Author Information, Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Reviews and Articles:
The New York Times – “A Saint with Grit” by Stacey D’Erasmo
NPR, All Things Considered – “Family Memoir” by Alan Cheuse
The Observer (UK) – “Oh, My Sainted Aunt” by Stephanie Merritt

On the Web:
Official Author Website –
Like the author on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @urrealism!

More about Teresa Urrea:
Texas State Historical Association – Teresa Urrea
El Paso Community College – Borderlands Project with info about Teresa Urrea.

If you enjoyed The Hummingbird’s Daughter, you might like:
The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luís Alberto Urrea
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
In the Time of the Butterflies (Book Club Kit) by Julia Alvarez
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Book Club Kit: The Middle Place

The Middle PlaceThe Middle Place
by Kelly Corrigan
First Published: 2008
6 Copies & Reading Guide

At thirty-six, Kelly Corrigan had a marriage that worked, a couple of funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as George Corrigan’s daughter. Kelly lives deep within what she calls the Middle Place — “that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap” — comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents’ care. But she’s abruptly shoved into a coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast — and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. And so Kelly’s journey to full-blown adulthood begins. When George, too, learns he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly’s turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her — and show us a woman as she finally takes the leap and grows up.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Info about the Book & Author, Reviews, and Discussion Questions


O, The Oprah Magazine – “The Daughter’s Dilemma” by Cathleen Medwick
San Francisco Chronicle – “Kelly Corrigan Gets Sick, Grows Up in The Middle Place” by Regan McMahon

On the Web:
Official Author Website –
Video – Transcending: Words on Women and Strength
Watch more of Kelly’s videos on YouTube.

If you enjoyed The Middle Place, you might like:
Lift by Kelly Corrigan
The Wednesday Sisters (Book Club Kit) by Meg Waite Clayton
The Glass Castle (Book Club Kit) by Jeannette Walls
The Council of Dads (Book Club Kit) by Bruce Feiler

Book Club Kit: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the WindThe Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
First Published: 2001, Translation: 2004
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Barcelona, 1945—A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax’s other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that The Shadow of the Wind is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author’s identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret.

Reading Guide:
Penguin – Includes an Introduction to the Book, an Interview with the Author, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “In the Cemetary of Forgotten Books” by Richard Eder
The Observer (UK) – “Barça Loner” by Robert Colvile
Entertainment Weekly – “Book Review” by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Author’s Official Website:

Want the Soundtrack?
Carlos Ruiz Zafón produced, composed, arranged and performed the Soundtrack for the book. Each song is available for download on his website.

More about the Spanish Civil War:
Encyclopedia Britannica

Similar Reads:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Interred with Their Bones (Book Club Kit) by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Tell us what you thought of the book – leave a comment below or join us over at Goodreads!

Book Club Kit: Half Broke Horses

Half Broke HorsesHalf Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
by Jeannette Walls
First Published: 2009
10 Copies & Reading Guide

This is a novel based on the life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who learned to break horses in childhood, journeyed five hundred miles as a teen to become a teacher, and ran a vast ranch in Arizona with her husband while raising two children.

Reading Guide:
Simon & Schuster: Includes an Introduction to the Book and Discussion Questions.

The New York Times: “Untamed Heart” by Liesl Schillinger
Entertainment Weekly: “Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls” by Lisa Schwarzbaum


  • Simon & Schuster Author Page: Jeannette Walls
  • Jeannette Walls Discusses the Book:

If you enjoyed Half Broke Horses, you might like:
The Glass Castle (Book Club Kit) by Jeannette Walls
These is My Words (Book Club Kit) by Nancy E Turner
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Food Bonus! Check out The Book Club Cookbook for book-inspired recipes for Cowboy Hash and Cornbread Fritters.