Book Club Kit for The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler includes book club discussion questions and party menu.
I’m excited to announce the March pick for our Book Club for Recovering Readers will be “The Book of Speculation” by Erika Swyler.
Peanut Blossom Book Club
This book was our official March 2016 pick for the Peanut Blossom Book Club.
Want to see what we’re reading today? Check out our book club book list here.
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This book club pick is one of the awesome books from our second year of book club.
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What is The Book of Speculation About?
“Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in a house that is slowly crumbling toward the Long Island Sound. His parents are long dead. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath, drowned in the very water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, ran off six years ago and now reads tarot cards for a traveling carnival.
One June day, an old book arrives on Simon’s doorstep, sent by an antiquarian bookseller who purchased it on speculation. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned–always on July 24, which is only weeks away.
As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly worried about his sister. Could there be a curse on Simon’s family? What does it have to do with the book, and can he get to the heart of the mystery in time to save Enola?”
The Book of Speculation Book Club Questions
I believe the best book club questions to spark a lively discussion in your group help readers make personal connections to the story.
You can read about how to write the best book club questions on your own here, but hopefully these will get you started!
What did you think of this month’s book? Did you jump right in or have a hard time getting going?
Enola and Simon have vastly different reactions to their shared childhood with Enola fleeing for a new life and Simon staying home to keep the memories intact.
Would your siblings describe your childhood differently than you do or are you all on the same page?
Do you ever think about this with your own kids?
Magic is an important theme in The Book of Speculation.
Do you have to believe in magic to appreciate this novel?
Are you drawn to one type of magic vs. another? (Water magic, tarot cards, book magic, etc.)
The concept of home has different meanings to different characters in the book. What does home mean to you?
The McAvoy family was perceived as the ‘role model family’ when Simon and Enola were growing up. They ended up with dark secrets and were not as they appeared.
Did you know a family like that growing up?
In today’s age of social media, do you think it is harder or easier for a family to cover up what is going on behind the scenes?
What was the deal with the horseshoe crabs?!
I didn’t even know what those were until we moved to North Carolina but now that I’ve seen them in person, the scenes with them were horrifying to me!
(Want to see a picture and learn more? See the Wikipedia article about horseshoe crabs here.)
What do you think they were meant to represent?
While reading “The Book of Speculation” I found myself googling “Rusalkas” and spent some time reading about mermaid lore from different areas of the world.
I really had only ever known the Disney version of mermaids.
Does folk lore and mythology interest you at all? You can read the information I found on mermaids here.
Geneology/Ancestry plays a big part of this month’s book.
Have you ever looked up your own ancestors or has your family done a good job of record keeping?
Although it was literally falling down around him, Simon refused to leave his house because it held memories of his childhood and his long dead parents.
Have you ever held onto something, knowing it was better for you to let go, because it held strong memories of something or someone? What was it?
Did you ever let it go?
Which plot line did you find more intriguing: Simon and Enola in the present day or Amos and Evangeline in the historical flashbacks?
Could the book have been written without one half or the other?
There were several eccentric characters in the traveling circus, who did you find most interesting? Why?
Book Club Party Menu
For the book club party menu, offer beach house snacks that remind you of the setting of the book.
You May Also Enjoy
If you enjoyed this book, you’d likely enjoy these other fun book club picks from through the years: