Questions you may ask yourself (and your book club)

I love book groups—particularly book groups comprised of members who read books. (I was in the other kind once—much less interesting.)

I joined the University of Minnesota Women’s Club Non-Fiction Book Club originally because Tracy Moos was in it, and I wanted to know her better. I stayed in it for years because there were so many intelligent, interesting women in the group who read the books, and regularly disagreed, respectfully, with one another.

If you would like for me to join you for or author’s event, or to Zoom into your book group meeting, please contact me at, or contact my publisher.

Any questions?

Sometime I finish a book and come upon a section at the back titled “Questions for Book Clubs.” Sometimes the questions are thought-provoking. Other times I think, “That’s not what I want to discuss! How did the author miss the most salient point of her book?”

A good list of questions should remind the reader of thoughts they had while reading the book, and suggest topics that might be interesting to discuss with others.

The reason that I did not include “Questions for Book Clubs” in a Eastcliff: History of a Home is not because I didn’t think I could come up with a good list of questions. As evidenced by the amount of redacted text included on this website, I didn’t consider book club questions because the book was already way, way too long. But, now that I think of it, careful readers—those readers whom I love being with in book groups—might come up with better questions than I could. If you have a question to suggest, please contact me at and I’ll include it here.

Questions for Book Clubs

  1. Why do you think the author of Eastcliff: History of a Home was so intent on correcting Rusty’s apocryphal story?
  2. The author chose to center the narrative on Markell Brooks, her daughter, Binky, and the partners of presidents, reasoning that Edward Brooks (the company president) and the University presidents had received much more attention in other stories. Do you agree or disagree with her decision? Why?
  3. How have the roles of women in America changed over the century of Eastcliff’s existence, as evidenced by Markell Brooks in 1921 through Joan Gabel in 2020?
  4. What changes were evident in the two decades between Marian Wilson in 1961 and Diane Skomars Magrath in 1981?
  5. What was your favorite anecdote from the book?
  6. Would you like to live in Eastcliff? Would you like to if living there included the obligations of being a presidential partner?
  7. What surprised you most in the intimate view of presidents’ and partners’ lives?
  8. If familiar with Eastcliff’s history, was there anything in the book that was contrary to what you had heard about the home?
  9. Do you have examples from your own family history when you learned the center of an often-told story was true, but the details had been embellished or had evolved in surprising ways?
The Lives of Presidential Partners in Higher Education Institutions

The Lives of Presidential Partners in Higher Education Institutions

The largest study on presidential partners, with 461 partners participating,

Rusty Goes Swimming

Rusty Goes Swimming

Rusty enjoys all the seasons in Minnesota, but he longs to swim in the summer

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