Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Salem State University.
The Bookshop on the Corner
Nina is a twenty-nine-year-old librarian. When her job is down-sized, she does something uncharacteristic and uproots her ties to follow her dream of owning her own bookshop. She buys a large van and sets up her bookshop in rural Scotland, about as far from the congested city as she could be. Jenny Colgan's charming novel The Bookshop on the Corner makes a good read for a high school or college class or adult reading group. Use these discussion questions to work through the novel with your students.
Questions About the Story
- How do the different people she meets in her travels contribute to Nina's new direction? How do the actions of strangers seem believable or surprising?
- What does Nina like about her new home? What is strange and new?
- What does Nina learn from Marek? Why did Marek treat Nina the way he did? Ultimately, what was his motivation to return to Latvia?
- Lennox talked to his lawyer about Marek. What does this say about Lennox's character?
- How does the author use Nina's friendship with Griffin to develop what we know about Nina's character?
- What is Surinder's experience of Scotland? Nina wants her to buy the barn. Based on textual evidence, do you think she will or not?
Questions About Literary Elements
- In the ''Message to Readers'' that precedes the book, the author talks about all the places she likes to read. Why is this relevant? What tone does it set for the story? Where do you like to read?
- The title of the book is not the name of Nina's bookstore. What is the significance of the title?
- Why is the contrast between the city and the country key in this novel? How does the setting drive the story? Can you think of other books you've read where the setting is equally important?
Personal Response Questions
- The book opens with the observation that ''a life lived forward can be a very irritating thing.'' What does this have to do with the story? Do you agree or disagree, and how?
- Nina loses her long-time job. Have you ever lost a job or faced another life transition? How did you handle it? What strategies do you recommend to people in that position? Why is this type of transition difficult, and why might it be appealing?
- At the workshop Nina is asked what she would do if she could do absolutely anything. What would you do? How often do you think people do exactly what they want? What are the challenges in following dreams?
- Nina compares many things to books, and she likes to match books to people. What in your recent life can you compare to a book? Are there any books that match you right now?
- What makes a community? How is your community similar to or different from the one Nina moves to?
- Nina wants to use books to help people. How did she do that? In what ways can a book be helpful? How can you use something you're good at to help someone else?
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