Book Clubbin’ – 10 Discussion Questions for The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to our monthly blog feature — Book Clubbin’!
A lot of us are busy parents, have challenging jobs, or just have generally hectic lives, so listening to audiobook versions of the novel can be really useful. You can squeeze your book club choices into your commute, listen while you work, or even when your baby is napping (HAH!).

Every month we’ll pick a popular book club pick and set up some discussion questions to get you and your book club going. This month, we’ve got questions for The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Unless you have been living in a cave for the last couple of months, you have probably heard a lot about this amazing sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Book clubs EVERYWHERE have been devouring this book (Our own office book club included!), and so it seemed like an awesome pick for this month’s blog.

So take a peek at our questions, and as always, remember there MAY be some spoilers in here!

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1) Do you think The Handmaid’s Tale needed a sequel? Were your questions answered by the end of the novel, or do you have even more?

2) Did The Testaments change your perception of Aunt Lydia? Why or why not?

3) In section 52, Aunt Lydia says the Aunts sometimes share information about their previous lives, “…Past lives are shared, I took care not to share too much of mine….” What do these snippets of information that we hear tell you about the Aunts? What opinions may they secretly have of Gilead? And what does it tell us about Aunt Lydia?

4) Even though Gilead seems to allude to having a lot of the same technology as the rest of the world, unbabies, deaths during childbirth, and other fatal/serious ailments seem to be the norm there. Why do you think this is?

5) When Nicole and Agnes are travelling to Canada, Nicole says “Just because people are related to you doesn’t mean you love them.” Agnes replies “Love is like a discipline, like prayer.” How have the girls’ upbringings developed their perception of what love is?

6) Much like The Handmaid’s Tale, the Gilead in The Testaments reflects a lot of situations in current society, especially in relation to movements such as #metoo. What parallels can you see?

7) Why do you think Atwood called the novel The Testaments?

8) Of all the groups of women in Gilead, who do you think has the most “freedom”?

9) Men are not portrayed very favorably in The Testaments. Are there any male characters who have redeeming features? Is it possible to be a man in Gilead and NOT be a bad person?

10) The novel has multiple narrators. How does this format help you to understand the story in different ways? How effective did you find the narration to be?


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September’s Top 10 Audiobooks.com Member Downloads

Listen to last month’s most popular fiction and non-fiction titles downloaded by Audiobooks.com members.

Fiction:

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, narrated by Margaret Atwood, Derek Jacobi, Tantoo Cardinal, Mae Whitman, Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard

Publisher Summary:

Margaret Atwoods dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, has become a modern classic—and now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel.

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

Read more and sample the audio →

The Institute by Stephen King, narrated by Santino Fontana

Publisher Summary:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, the most riveting and unforgettable story of kids confronting evil since It—publishing just as the second part of It, the movie, lands in theaters.

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen Kings gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

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The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott, narrated by Cynthia Farrell, Carlotta Brentan, Mozhan Marnò

Publisher Summary:

A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak’s magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world—using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally’s tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.

The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story—the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago’s heroine, Lara–with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. From Pasternak’s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the Gulag, from Washington, D.C. to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature—told with soaring emotional intensity and captivating historical detail. And at the center of this unforgettable debut is the powerful belief that a piece of art can change the world.

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It by Stephen King, narrated by Steven Weber

Publisher Summary:

Stephen Kings terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, narrated by David Pittu

Publisher Summary:

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by a longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into a wealthy and insular art community.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love—and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

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Non-Fiction:

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, narrated by Malcolm Gladwell

Publisher Summary:

Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers—and why they often go wrong.

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?

Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Bland throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt. Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

Read more and sample the audio →

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, narrated by Bryan Stevenson

Publisher Summary:

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

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Call Sign Chaos by Jim Mattis, Bing West, narrated by Danny Campbell

Publisher Summary:

A clear-eyed account of learning how to lead in a chaotic world, by General Jim Mattis—the former Secretary of Defense and one of the most formidable strategic thinkers of our time—and Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine.

Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis’s storied career, from wide-ranging leadership roles in three wars to ultimately commanding a quarter of a million troops across the Middle East. Along the way, Mattis recounts his foundational experiences as a leader, extracting the lessons he has learned about the nature of warfighting and peacemaking, the importance of allies, and the strategic dilemmas—and short-sighted thinking—now facing our nation. He makes it clear why America must return to a strategic footing so as not to continue winning battles but fighting inconclusive wars.

Mattis divides his book into three parts: Direct Leadership, Executive Leadership, and Strategic Leadership. In the first part, Mattis recalls his early experiences leading Marines into battle, when he knew his troops as well as his own brothers. In the second part, he explores what it means to command thousands of troops and how to adapt your leadership style to ensure your intent is understood by your most junior troops so that they can own their mission. In the third part, Mattis describes the challenges and techniques of leadership at the strategic level, where military leaders reconcile war’s grim realities with political leaders’ human aspirations, where complexity reigns and the consequences of imprudence are severe, even catastrophic.

Call Sign Chaos is a memoir of a life of warfighting and lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey about learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy, one relevant to us all.

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How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, narrated by Andrew Macmillian

Publisher Summary:

You can go after the job you want—and get it!
You can take the job you have—and improve it!
You can take any situation—and make it work for you!

Dale Carnegies rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People will teach you:

Six ways to make people like you
Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

And much more! Achieve your maximum potential—a must-read for the twenty-first century with more than 15 million copies sold!

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Best Self: Be You, Only Better by Mike Bayer, narrated by Phil Mcgraw, Mike Bayer

Publisher Summary:

Ask yourself…are you truly who you want to be? Is this the life you really want? Are you living each day as your best self? What can you change, today? How would you answer those questions?

Think about your daily life. Are you thriving, or going through the motions? Are your days full of work, relationships and activities that are true to your authentic self, or do you feel trapped on a treadmill of responsibility? If you dream of a better life, now is the time to turn your dream into reality. And the tools you need are within your grasp, to design a life that is fulfilling on the deepest levels. Best Self will show you how.

Mike Bayer, known to the thousands of clients whose lives he has changed as Coach Mike, has helped everyone from pop stars to business executives to people just like you discover the freedom to be their best selves. By asking them and leading them to ask themselves a series of important but tough questions-such as “What are your core values?” “Do you go to bed each day more knowledgeable than when you woke up?” and “Am I neglecting some aspect of my physical health out of fear or denial?”-he helps them see what their Best Selves and Anti-Selves really look like. As a mental health specialist, a personal development coach, and an all-around change agent, Mike has seen the amazing ways in which lives can improve with honesty and clarity. He understands our struggles intimately, because he’s faced-and overcome-his own. And he knows that change is possible.

By working through each of the Seven SPHERES of life-Social, Personal, Health, Education, Relationships, Employment and Spiritual Development-Best Self is an accessible and interactive book that distills all of Coach Mike’s wisdom into a compact, focused guide that will ignite anyone’s desire for change. Chock full of revealing quizzes, and full of provocative questionnaires, Best Self will empower you to embrace your authenticity, acknowledge what is holding you back, and break through to live a passionate life to the fullest, forever.

Read more and sample the audio → 

New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!

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