Monday, December 17, 2012

The Finer Things Book Club: The Yellow Wallpaper and The Phantom of the Opera

My book group decided not to meet this month because of the holidays. (Does anyone else hate how the holidays consume everyone's lives? I have to put everything on hold because people around me let themselves get overrun with planning.)

So for my blog readers, I decided to post about two book groups I've done in the past. They're not as good as the meeting for The Night Circus because I get better at this as I go along, but they were still fun.

The Yellow Wallpaper is fantastic for book groups because it's only 64 pages long, but it has so much depth that there's plenty to discuss. 

It's about a 19th century woman who feels so confined by her husband and society that she loses her mind. Her bedroom is covered in hideous yellow wallpaper, and she starts to hallucinate about a woman who is trapped in the wallpaper and is trying to get out. The woman is obviously a reflection of herself.

I didn't keep the discussion questions, unfortunately, but I think I got them from Spark Notes.

To enrich our reading, I printed off a bunch of optical illusions and taped them to the wall. I especially used the kind where your eyes go out of focus and you see a 3D image because it's the most similar to what the main character saw.

This website has a lot of fun illusions. I had this one running on my computer: it's of a girl spinning, but you can't tell whether she's spinning clockwise or counterclockwise.

The Phantom of the Opera was more of a Halloween party than a book group, mostly because I didn't spur a discussion very well. For most of the night, we decorated masks.

I like having activities like this for when your book group wants to socialize instead of discuss the reading. It helps them stay focused, it enriches the reading, and this way people who read the book don't feel like they've wasted their time.

I had the music to the Broadway show playing in the back ground. If we wanted, we could have watched the movie afterwards, or better yet the black-and-white version, for people who had enough time to stay later.

Most people in the group didn't know the opera house was a real place, so I talked to them about the building's history and architecture. On my laptop, I had a slide-show running of pictures of the opera house.

I learned a valuable lesson on this night; never host for your favorite book. I've loved The Phantom of the Opera story since I was eight, which is why I wanted to share it. But not everyone liked it as much as I did. When they bashed it I got frustrated and defensive, which is a big reason the discussion didn't take off as well as it should have.

If you liked this post and want to see more, tell me in the comments any books you would like to see us do. The club members get the final say, but we're very open to suggestions.

1 comment:

  1. There's a short children's fable that uses the same wallpaper theme. The wife tries to get the husband to come see the flowers in the garden, but the husband is content to look at the flowers in the wallpaper, because they're so much neater and more orderly. Hmm...

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