August Book a Month: Our Souls at Night

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Aging is as inevitable as the turning of the seasons, and the potential loneliness that comes with it is a singular challenge. Our August 2017 Book a Month selection, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, transcends the generational gap—though on the surface it’s a story about aging, all the characters, both young and old, struggle with friendship, love, trust, and second chances. Quietly compelling and brimming with joy and heartache, Our Souls at Night reminds us that, no matter our age, we long for deep relationships and real, lasting connection.

1. Addie took a rather brave leap of faith when she asked Louis to spend the night. Do you think you could have done the same thing? How would you react if someone came to you with a similar offer?

2. Events occurred in both Addie’s and Louis’s earlier years that irrevocably changed their lives, their marriages, and the lives of their family members. What are the events, large or small, that have shifted the course of your life? Was there anything you could have done to control or change the situation? Would you do anything differently if you could do it again?

3. The townsfolk, unsurprisingly, didn’t react well to the rumors of Addie and Louis’s “affair.” Do you think Addie should have tried to quell the rumors by explaining the situation, or do you think she was right in saying it was nobody else’s business? Can you think of a time in your life when rumors got out of hand and hurt others? Was there a time that you unfairly judged someone else, only to find out the situation wasn’t what you thought it was?

4. How do you feel about the way Addie’s son, Gene, reacted to news of Addie and Louis’s arrangement? Do you think he was justified in being protective of his mother and son? How would you react to a similar rumor concerning one of your own family members?

5. Many characters in this novel are dealing with or have dealt with reconciliation and second chances. What do you think the author is trying to convey about that theme? Did everyone who got a second chance deserve one, and do you think that it was the right choice? Consider Louis and his wife after his affair, Addie and her husband after the death of their daughter, and Gene, his wife, and his son.

6. Do you have any plans for staving off loneliness in your later years? Has that changed at all after reading this book? How? If you’re already in your later years, what advice would you give to younger generations on how to handle aging and loneliness?

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