This Book Will Save Your Life, 2006 - Discussion Questions
- 1 In the novel Richard comes back to life and reconnects with friends and family. Do you believe individual self-transformation is possible? Can a person change, truly learn to live life differently?
2 Through the course of the novel Richard makes several new male friends, including Anhil and Nic. How do men make friendships as adults and is that an easy or a hard thing for them to do?
3 Henry David Thoreau once said that "wealth is the ability to experience life." What does it mean to be someone like Richard, who appears to have it all, and yet his life feels so empty? What does this say about our culture and about contemporary American life? Is this another manifestation of American consumerist mentality - the notion of buying happiness?
4 "Americans try on the spiritual life of others like they don't have any of their own," Anhil says. How has the importance of the spiritual life changed over time in America?
5 Richard and Cynthia are both trying to reclaim their lives. In what ways do they help each other? How are their efforts similar? Who is more successful?
6 Richard's ex-wife remains a touch point throughout the novel, sharing snippets of advice before hastily fleeing back to her work. Why is it so hard for Richard to let go of her and so hard for her to connect with him?
7 Richard's son, Ben, has been deeply affected by his father's absence in his life. Discuss the ways in which their relationship evolves during Ben's time in Malibu.
8 Anhil is a font of sound advice and sharp commentaries on American culture, despite his comic malapropisms. Discuss the impact he has on those around him. Does the fact that he is an immigrant outsider afford him a clearer vision of the people and culture around him? 9 Richard has been celibate for quite some time until he meets Sydney. What does it mean to try to start a new relationship after having been single for so long?
9 Richard has been celibate for quite some time until he meets Sydney. What does it mean to try to start a new relationship after having been single for so long?
10 Early on in the novel, Richard describes his eating habits and himself as "Mr. Healthy": "I eat cereal that the nutritionist makes for me; it tastes like wood chips. I drink Lactaid milk. I never break the rules." From his neighborÕs intravenous vitamin infusions to the assortment of pies proffered as goodwill tokens, food and eating take on a peculiar glow in the novel. In what ways does Homes use food and eating-sustenance-as a metaphor?
11 "Richard thinks of the house on the hill, of moving back, of being alone. He cannot bear the idea of going back to what was, spending the days home doing nothing." Instead, at book's end, we find him "floating, waiting to see what happens next." What do you think happens to him?
These discussion questions are from Penguin Books