Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anybody out there?

This blog has been put on the back burner for a while, and I am trying to decide if I should resurrect it or not. So, leave a comment if you would like the blog to stay active (and by so doing you will be committing to participate). If there are enough people who want to continue then I'll keep it going, otherwise I'm shutting it down.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Unseen Readers will be on hiatus for the summer. We'll start back up for the month of September. The book is yet to be determined, stay tuned for the selection. If you have any ideas or demands, leave the title in the comments.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Count of Monte Cristo Discussion

I borrowed the discussion questions from here and here.

1. Edmond Dantès assumes a number of aliases during the course of the novel, and many other characters have a variety of different names as well. What do you consider to be the significance of names in The Count of Monte Cristo? What do you think is the significance of each of Edmond Dantès's assumed names?
2. What is the effect of Haydée's love for Monte Cristo?

3. Dumas often writes of Edmond Dantès's time in prison as if it were a death. What do you think is the significance of this choice of language?

4. The central issue in The Count of Monte Cristo is the question of revenge. In the case of this book, is Dantes' quest for vengeance morally just? Can vengeance ever stand in for justice?

5. Discuss Villefort's decision to imprison Dantes. He believes Dantes has been unfairly accused, but at the same time he fears for his own father's life.

6. Talk about the role that the Abbe Faria plays in Dante's development. Why does Dantes consider him a second father?

7. Why does Dantes treat Caderrouse more lightly than he does Danglars and Mondego?

8. What truths do Julie and Emmanuel reveal to Dantes? What does he learn from them?

9. As he takes his leave from Maximillian, Dantes claims that "there is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.” What does that statement mean—in the context of the story and in real life—and how does it reverberate throughout the novel?

10. Talk about Dantes' profound alienation when he escapes from prison and his gradual movement back into reconciliation with humanity. How does that development take place: what and the plot benchmarks who are characters who help him regain his humanity.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Because two, or three, heads are better than one

It is that time again. We need to set up the reading schedule for the summer. I would like to choose some books that embody the summer spirit. Light and carefree. If you have any ideas, post them. I would like to set out June, July and August but that will all depend on if anyone else actually puts out some ideas... (that is a hint to you cyber stalkers out there to join in to the fun...pick a book, read it and then come back to discuss!)

Come on now, leave a comment. I know you want to.

May 2009: The Count of Monte Cristo

May 2009's book will be The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

I am giving you a heads up on this one because it is a bit of a long. My copy is 591 pages. So it will technically be May's book, but we'll start it now, which means you'll have to read about 100 pages a week.

The summary from the back of my book reads:

Dashing young Edmund Dantes has everything. He is engaged to a beautiful woman, is about to become the captain of a ship, and is well liked by almost everyone. But his perfect life is shattered when he is frames by a jealous rival and thrown into a dark prison cell for fourteen years.

Written in Dumas' oft-imitates style of adventure and suspense and filled with vivid details of post-Napoleonic France, The Count of Monte Cristo continues to dazzle readers with its thrilling and memorable scenes, including Dantes' miraculous escape from the deadful chateau d'If, his amazing discovery of a vast hidden treasure, and his transformation into a man whose astonishing thirst for vengence is as cruel as it is just.

I read this once in Junior High as I think everyone did, although I think it was an abridged version. I loved the movie that came out a few years back and I have wanted to re-read the book for a while. I found my copy at Barnes & Noble. They have a Barnes & Noble Classics collection in which they have copies of great classics at incredible prices. You can get a paperback copy here for under $6! (In store they often have deals on the classics, like buy 2 get 1 free)

We'll meet back here at the end of May to discuss the book. Also, we'll be deciding on reading selections for the summer. Watch for the voting post.

Atonement Discussion

Sorry this is a bit late...a cross country trip will do that to ya!

I borrowed the following questions from this website.

  1. Robbie is treated like a member of the Tallis household. He has had a Cambridge education and is considering going to Medical College, however, he is still the housekeeper’s son. What bearing does this have on his and Cecilia’s relationship and the reaction he receives after the allegations?

  2. Robbie writes Cecilia a sexually explicit love letter that she never should have read. How do the events that result from this letter compare with the romantic ideals of love as harbored by young Briony in her play?

  3. Leon and Cecilia are adults in an adult world whilst Briony is thirteen and still a child trying to impress her siblings. How does being the youngest sibling affect Briony’s actions throughout the novel?

  4. Briony is precocious and harbors delusions of adulthood. These delusions are challenged both by the homecoming of her newly graduated sister and the arrival of her glamorous cousin, Lola. To what extent do her feelings of inferiority brought on by these events drive Briony to make the rape allegations? Why does she substitute Cecilia and Robbie as the victim and the assailant?

  5. Robbie witnesses many horrific sights in France. How does his experience of the war compare with those of the sisters? How realistic do you think McEwan’s descriptions of the horrors of war are?

  6. As an old lady Briony reveals that much of what she has told the reader is not true. Is this atonement of the title for her benefit or for ours? Is it too late for her to be asking for forgiveness?
As always, if you want to discuss anything else...please do.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 2009: Atonement by Ian McEwan

The book for the month of March is Atonement by Ian McEwan.  You can find the book here on Amazon.  Here is a review from their site:

The interwar, upper-middle class setting of the book's long, masterfully sustained opening section might recall Virginia Woolf or Henry Green, but as we move forward-eventually to the turn of the 21st century--the novel;s central concerns emerge, and McEwan's voice becomes clear, even personal.  For at heart, Atonement is about the pleasures, pains and dangers of writing, and perhaps even more, about the challenge of controlling what readers make of your writing.  McEwan shouldn't have any doubts about readers of Atonement: this is a thoughtful, provocative, and at times moving book that will have readers applauding. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Skeletons at the Feast Discussion

I borrowed the discussion questions for this book from here.

1 - Do you know–or are you yourself–a veteran of World War II? Discuss what you know of the war and any reminiscences that veterans may have shared.

2 - While arguing with Anna about what is really happening to Jews, Callum says, “Suppose my government in England just decided to ‘resettle’ the Catholics–to take away their homes, their animals, their possessions, and just send them away?” What if this was happening where you live? What actions would you be willing to take to protect your friends and neighbors? At what point would the risks have been too great?

3 - On page 178, Callum is thinking about bringing Anna home with him to Scotland after the war. How does he think she will be received? Why is he troubled?

4 - Discuss the importance of hope in survival. Which character is the most hopeful? Which character is the most defeated? What moments at the end of the novel symbolize hope most poignantly?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February 2009: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Skeletons at the Feast
by Chris Bohjalian

From Publisher's Weekly (copied off

 In his 12th novel, Bohjalian (The Double Bind) paints the brutal landscape of Nazi Germany as German Refugees struggle westward ahead of the advancing Russian army.  Inspired by the unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945, this novel exhumes the ruin of spirit, flesh and faith that accompanied thousands of such desperate journeys.  Prussian aristocrat Rolf Emmerich and his two elder sons are sent into battle, while his wife flees with their other children and a Scottish POW who has been working on their estate.  Before long, they meet up with Uri Singer, a Jewish escapee from an Auschwitz-bound train, who becomes the group's protector.  In a parallel story line, hundreds of Jewish women shuffle west on a gruesome death march from a concentration camp.  

You can get the book here on ebay or here on amazon.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Secret Discussion

I thought reading The Secret at the first of the year would be good seeing as how most of the people I know make New Year's Resolutions and how most the people I know break those resolutions by the end of January.  

This month will be a bit different as there will be no specific questions given to spur discussion, rather just post a comment with your impressions, opinions, etc.