After a 3 month hiatus, we are back with another family book club pick! Most of you already know the pick since this post is a little later in the month than usual, but we'll still take the opportunity to introduce it before we give you some ideas for a family book club night!
So without further ado, the September book club pick is...
The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan
In August, we asked our Instagram followers what they wanted to talk about during September and gratitude was the overwhelming choice. So, what better book to talk about than The Gratitude Diaries?
This is a nonfiction book about Janice Kaplan's experiences during a year of gratitude. At a New Year's Eve party one year, Janice realized that she wasn't as grateful as she could be, so she decided to commit to one whole year of gratitude. Throughout the book, we follow Janice's year and the different facets of gratitude that she focuses on. The wonderful thing about this book is that Janice doesn't just share her own experiences, she shares actual research, experiments, and interviews with experts to help us understand gratitude better and why it's really quite essential.
Length: 305 pages (8 hours & 12 minutes for the audiobook, which is read by Janice!)
Reading level: Teen/adult. Unlike our previous picks, this book probably won't be one that you read with the entire family; however, it's a great book to talk about with your family and we have some awesome discussion questions that will help you do just that!
Reading schedule for the month:
Family Book Club Meeting:
- Generally, do you feel like a grateful person? One who expresses gratitude often?
- What does gratitude mean to you? How do you feel when someone tells you thank you?
- Have you ever felt underappreciated?
- Can you think of a time where you expressed gratitude (said thank you, etc.) to someone and it really seemed to mean something? What emotions did you feel then?
- Do you ever reflect daily on something you're grateful for?
- Are there days where there's nothing to be grateful for at all?
- What about people that have less opportunities and privileges? How do you think gratitude works for them? What about people that have more opportunities and privileges? Do you think they express gratitude?
- What obstacles and challenges do we face that might keep us from showing and expressing gratitude sometimes? Are they legitimate reasons or excuses? How can we overcome them?
- How can we, as a family, express gratitude more?
- Do you feel appreciated in our family? What can we do to help you feel valued? How can we help and support each other?
Here are some ideas, but if you come up with your own we'd love to hear them!:
- Gratitude journal: All throughout the book Janice keeps a weekly gratitude journal. Your family can do this too! You can have individual gratitude journals, or a family journal.
- Decide together how often you will write in your journals.
- Will you share what you write occasionally? Or daily?
- If a journal is not feasible for your family, what about a journaling or notes app?
- Or what about a verbal diary? Can you plan a time each day or weekly to talk about the things your family is grateful for?
- Gratitude letters: Write letters of gratitude to family members, friends, coworkers, teachers, neighbors, etc.
- You can get special stationary, or use lined paper! Sit down and write out letters either individually or as a family.
- Will you deliver the letters in person, or mail them? Decide and then do it!
- Talk about how you felt while writing the letters and how you think the recipient(s) will feel as they read the letter. You can also follow up on this to see if recipients of the letters said anything.
- Ethical will: In the book, Janice mentions writing an ethical will for her children - values, traits, characteristics, etc. that she hopes her children will inherit in the event that something happened to her. Consider writing an ethical will or something similar, on your own, with your significant other, or even with your family. What would you hope to leave behind?
- The Monopoly Experiment: Janice talked about an experiment where two individuals were invited to play a game of Monopoly. At the beginning of the game both players roll a die to see who gets the advantage in the game. The advantage is double bonuses for everything: double the money when you pass go, rolling two dice instead of one which allowed them to move twice as fast around the board, and they started with twice as much money as their opponent. The experiment found that those with the advantage were able to easily win; however, when asked how they won hardly any acknowledged the clear advantages they were given and explained their strategies for winning.
- You can duplicate this same experiment with your family, either by playing Monopoly or another game where an advantage can be given to one or more of the players (but not all).
- During and/or after the game, talk with your family about privilege and advantages and the effects they can have on everyone. How can we show gratitude and also acknowledge the advantages we have in life? Do we recognize those advantages, or do we chalk them up to our own efforts?
This book really doesn't have food themes, but who doesn't love food at a book club meeting? Choose foods that your family is grateful for - things that they value and love to eat. As for décor, this book really has a happy theme, so anything yellow is perfect.
As the Editor-in-Chief of Parade, then the most widely read publication in America, Janice Kaplan brought new energy and excitement to the magazine, boosted readership to 74 million every Sunday, and attracted some of America’s best writers and biggest-name celebrities. The magazine’s two cover stories by President Barack Obama got international attention, as did her own interviews with stars including Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, and Daniel Craig.
Janice was deputy editor of TV Guide magazine and executive producer of the TV Guide Television Group, where she created and produced more than 30 television shows that aired primetime on ABC, FOX, VH1 and other networks. She began her career as an on-air sports reporter for CBS Radio and went on to be a producer at ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, where she won awards for investigative reporting.
In addition to her bestselling non-fiction, Janice’s popular novels include The Botox Diaries, Mine Are Spectacular! and The Men I Didn’t Marry. Her Lacy Fields mysteries include Looks To Die For and A Job To Kill For, and her books have been translated and published in more than a dozen countries.
Janice appears frequently on television shows including Today, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and CBS Early Show, and is a popular speaker around the country. She has given dozen of keynote addresses at conferences, conventions, corporate events and fundraisers, and she inspires audiences with her witty and energetic presentations. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and won Yale’s Murray Fellowship for writing. She lives in New York City and Kent, Connecticut with her husband and has two wonderful sons who graduated Yale.
(photo & bio taken from https://www.janicekaplan.com/)
Books by Janice:
- The Genius of Women (2020)
- How Luck Happens (2018)
- The Gratitude Diaries (2015)
- And more!