Q. What are the topics and why did you choose those particular ones?
A. Topics are: Citizenship, Families & Community, Religion, Safety & Security, Work & Money
These topics are fairly broad, may overlap, and can touch upon thorny issues such as reproductive rights, immigration, welfare, healthcare, Islam and more.
We chose these topics because they increasingly tear apart families, friends and neighborhoods. We want to change that, person-to-person, by combining reading fiction and having a conversation. We've created suggested reading lists for each topic, along with an optional discussion guide, to make it easy for you to get started.
Q. what if the topic ISN'T EXACTLY what we WANT to discuss?
A. That's perfectly fine. The topics are just ideas to start a conversation. If you want to talk about the environment, military action or other hot-button topics, feel free. Also, your topic doesn't have to be super broad or narrow; for example, if you want to talk broadly about war and peace, go ahead. Or if you want to focus on a narrow topic such the use of military tribunals for terrorism suspects, that's fine. We just want people to read and have conversations that goes beyond memes, tweets and shouts.
If you do choose another topic, we still ask that you sign up and let us know about it. And then make sure to submit observations about your conversation to us or you can simply send us a quick email with a few sentences about your conversation at fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com.
Q. CAN YOU PAIR ME WITH A FELLOW READER?
A. At this time, The Fiction Project cannot pair you with another reader. If that's something that we find to be a popular request, then we'll consider starting a "match" service for readers.
Even if we can't pair you with a reader, we're pretty sure that there's someone in your life who loves to read fiction as much as you do, and who has a different view than you on a hot-button topic. Peruse your social media feed, think about members of your family, or consider someone in your book club. Your Fiction Project reading partner is out there and closer than you think. Find them and start reading.
Q. Can a bookclub do this as well?
A. Yes. You can adapt the project in any way you see fit for your bookclub. One idea is to choose just one book from a topic that you know the bookclub members have different opinions on. While you discuss the book, have a member write down some notes and observations. Then submit these to us via this form or just write us a quick email with some thoughts at fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com. You can use our discussion guide or just talk off the cuff about the book. Just remember to have someone take notes so that these can be consolidated later.
Q. does it cost money to participate in the fiction project?
A. The Fiction Project is completely free. Yes, free. And old-fashioned paper books are available for free to check out from your local library. Many libraries now have free e-reader downloads and audio books available as well. Commit now to reading and having a hard conversation.
Q. What if i want to participate, but don't see any books on your reading lists that interest me?
A. The reading lists are there just as suggestions. If you have other fiction books in mind for a particular topic, go for it. Just make sure your reading partner is on board and that the two or three books you choose are from different time periods. Have an idea for a book to include? Send us your suggestion at fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com.
We also have overflow lists for each topic so you may be able to find the right book for you in these lists:
- Citizenship overflow
- Families & Community overflow
- Religion overflow
- Safety & Security overflow
- Work & Money overflow
Q. Who are you and why are you doing this?
A. The Fiction Project is comprised of a small group of people from around the country who love to read fiction and who are fed up with our lack of dialogue around difficult topics that affect our lives and dominate our media. We are not funded by a particular PAC, organization or political candidate. We're just Americans who want to read and talk. Read more about us here.
Q. WhY DID YOU CHOOSE THREE TIME PERIODS FOR THE READING LISTS?
A. The reading lists have three time periods: Pre-1969, 1969-2002, and 2003-Present
We wanted to have these three periods to guide people to books written in different eras within a particular topic. Ideally you'll read one book from each time period. Or, if you choose to only read two books, each book will come from a different period, not the same one.
Why these particular dates? If you look at them, you'll notice that they are defined by major events in our political and social life. The late 60s were defined by the Vietnam War, the civil rights and women's movements, Woodstock and landing on the moon. From the late 60s to the early 2000s, we had Watergate, the lingering Cold War and the subsequent fall of The Berlin Wall, the Iran hostage crisis, the oil crisis, Reaganomics, NAFTA and increased global trade, along with a surge of what some called "political correctness" and others saw as diversity in the arts and education. With September 11th, 2001, the attacks suddenly America thrust into a new era of terrorism and uncertainty on our own soil. Today, there continues to be daily repercussions due to 9/11 and our domestic and international policy are still greatly shaped by this event.
Because writing a book and publishing it take quite a while, the time periods are pushed out at least a year to accommodate for the lag time that's needed for fiction books to catch up with contemporary events (so for example, instead of 2001 being the end of a significant time period for fiction books, it's 2002).
While there are different time periods, you'll notice that the same themes in books are constant, decade after decade. There's a reason for this: these topics are timeless.
Q. What if i don't have time to read books?
A. Reading can be done in a variety of ways these days and can fit into any schedule if you want it to. With audio books, you can "read" while driving, doing the dishes, getting ready for work, or taking a walk. E-readers make reading portable, so you can take your books on the bus, on vacation, and to your job (to be read during lunch breaks, of course). If you want to have a conversation to break the silence with a cherished family member or friend, then pick up a few books and make time to read. It'll be worth it.
Q. What if I OR MY READING PARTNER DON'T FINISH THE BOOKS?
A. It's important to still try and have a conversation about the topic. Think about why you or your reading partner didn't finish the book(s). Was there something in the book that turned you off? Was it a viewpoint in the book or simply because you didn't like the style of writing? Was it too hard to finish due to the plot or because you greatly disliked a character? Or was the book too close to our current political or social situation? Make an effort to figure out the reason and then submit this questionnaire so that your thoughts can be included in our blog. Or, you can also just send us a short email about your thoughts to fictionprojectusa @ gmail.com.
If you found it boring or the topic too daunting, try another topic and set of books. You may find that trying something different can spark some interesting conversations.
Have any other questions for us? Contact us and we'll answer your question.