Reading Group Guide
1. Many people believe alchemy is merely about trying to turn lead into gold. But there is a rich tradition of alchemy running through many disciplines --- from religion to chemistry, from literature to psychology. What are some examples?
2. Paul gets very close to one of his sources almost immediately. Do you think this is merely due to his lack of experience or might there be some other issues involved? What do you think would have happened to Paul if he had kept a professional distance between them?
3. What sort of picture does Fasman paint of life in the Soviet Union
4. Do you think Paul is afraid of his own ambition? How might the events of the novel limit or narrow his career?
5. Hannah's asking Paul to write down everything that happened sounds vaguely similar to the request made of an Estonian poet in the novel. Despite Tonu's promises, do you think Paul is still in grave danger?
6. Discuss the narrative device of having chapters end with descriptions of the objects from the library.
7. Looking back, Paul remembers several instances when he should have paid more attention to Hannah's strange behavior (for example, when they first meet Tonu together). Reflect on the various occasions in the novel when greater vigilance about odd behavior might have had a decisive effect.
8. There is very little interaction between the novel's characters and their families. Why do you think this is the case?
The Geographer's Library
- Publication Date: February 28, 2006
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
- ISBN-10: 0143036629
- ISBN-13: 9780143036623