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The Underground Railroad
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Archives > [August] The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead - Part 1 (before starting)

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message 1: by Bryony, Circumnavigation Mod (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryony (bryony46) | 1058 comments Mod
Welcome to our discussion of August’s Book of the Month, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

This thread has some discussion questions for you to answer before you start reading the book. If you’ve already read it then you’re welcome to participate but please be sure not to post any spoilers. Later in the month there will be two more threads with questions to answer when you’re around halfway through the book and when you’ve completed it.

More information about Book of the Month is in this thread. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Discussion Questions

1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have read it if it wasn’t book of the month?

2. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes, safe houses and people that helped enslaved African American people escape slavery during the nineteenth century. In this book it’s reimagined as a real, physical railroad. Have you read any other books that reimagine history in this way?

3. The book has won several literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Have you chosen to read a book because it’s won a particular award, and if so did it live up to your expectations? Do you ever look at literary awards to help guide you to books you’d like to read, and if so which awards do you look at?

Please feel free to add any other thoughts or questions to other readers.


Samantha | 931 comments 1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have read it if it wasn’t book of the month?

This has been on my TBR for awhile and was eager to read at first but for some reason that dwindled over time. I actually had no clue it was a alternate history and am happy to have it be our book of the month.

2. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes, safe houses and people that helped enslaved African American people escape slavery during the nineteenth century. In this book it’s reimagined as a real, physical railroad. Have you read any other books that reimagine history in this way?

Not that I can think of.

3. The book has won several literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Have you chosen to read a book because it’s won a particular award, and if so did it live up to your expectations? Do you ever look at literary awards to help guide you to books you’d like to read, and if so which awards do you look at?

I think I become more aware of some books because they have one prizes and prior to joining this group may have sought them out more often. This group has really expanded my reading horizons, i rarely am without a book or two I want to read.

I have read a number of books that won awards that just didn't do it for me but don't think I really have high expectations of books based on them winning awards more of what I think they will be like.


message 3: by Laura, Celestial Sphere Mod (last edited Jul 31, 2018 03:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laura | 3821 comments Mod
1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have read it if it wasn’t book of the month?

It's been on my list for quite some time and I just haven't gotten around to reading it. So I would like to say I would have still read it but it's sort of hard to say with me lol. I have a habit of adding books to my TBR and then never reading them.

2. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes, safe houses and people that helped enslaved African American people escape slavery during the nineteenth century. In this book it’s reimagined as a real, physical railroad. Have you read any other books that reimagine history in this way?

None that come to mind but I'm also not a big reader of historical fiction.

3. The book has won several literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Have you chosen to read a book because it’s won a particular award, and if so did it live up to your expectations? Do you ever look at literary awards to help guide you to books you’d like to read, and if so which awards do you look at?

I've read some for specific awards just because of the challenge prompts. But beyond that, I can't think of any awards that I'm immediately drawn to. I think I'm more likely to be swayed by reviews, comments from other authors, or "top" lists.


Joan Barnett | 1544 comments 1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have read it if it wasn’t book of the month?

I've had interest in reading it. I saw it on Obama's reading list which intrigued me. The book of the month prompted me to read it sooner.

2. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes, safe houses and people that helped enslaved African American people escape slavery during the nineteenth century. In this book it’s reimagined as a real, physical railroad. Have you read any other books that reimagine history in this way?

Apparently alternate history doesn't seem to be my thing. I'm not sure I have read any alternate history books.

3. The book has won several literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Have you chosen to read a book because it’s won a particular award, and if so did it live up to your expectations? Do you ever look at literary awards to help guide you to books you’d like to read, and if so which awards do you look at?

I guess I don't usually go by awards. I go more so by word of mouth and what my reading groups think of a book. If a book gets a lot of hype I guess I get interested in it but I don't seek out award winners.


Ana A (anabana_a) | 491 comments 1. I've never heard of this book before I saw it in the group for this month's BOTM. But knowing what it's about does make me want to read it since I just finished reading Gone with the Wind which is set around the time of the American Civil War and it made me interested in that part of America's history.

2. Not that I can remember right now.

3. Mostly yes, the books that have won awards do live up to my expectations. But I also know how different individual tastes are in books, and sometimes it even differs for one person, just depending on their mood, so I don't expect like a whole whole lot from books with awards. I'd say I expect just enough, that it's more or less well-written and that it touches on a serious subject.


message 6: by Bec (new)

Bec | 774 comments 1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have read it if it wasn’t book of the month?
I hadn't heard of it before so no I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't book of the month. I was struggling to fill this prompt so decided to go with the group read.

2. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes, safe houses and people that helped enslaved African American people escape slavery during the nineteenth century. In this book it’s reimagined as a real, physical railroad. Have you read any other books that reimagine history in this way?
No this genre is not my thing.

3. The book has won several literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Have you chosen to read a book because it’s won a particular award, and if so did it live up to your expectations? Do you ever look at literary awards to help guide you to books you’d like to read, and if so which awards do you look at?
No I don't really care about awards. We all have different tastes so just because it's won an award doesn't mean I will like it.


Michelle (mich2689) | 476 comments 1. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while because I keep seeing people rave about it. I’m glad it got chosen for Book of the month because it moved it up my TBR.

2. I can’t think of any right now.

3. I don’t really choose books based on awards unless a prompt specially calls for it. I look out more for reviews. However, when I do pick up a book and notice that it’s received some kind of award, it does raise my expectations for it.


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