Has your book club picked Educated by Tara Westover as your next read? This inspiring memoir about one woman's tough upbringing in a survivalist family and her fight for escape and education is arguably one of the most talked about books of the last year--but just in case you need some help getting the conversation going, we've compiled a list of 25 Educated book club questions for your next meeting! Pick and choose which questions are most interesting to you, make sure your book club snacks and drinks of choice are ready to go, and get talking!
Educated book club questions
- Why do you think that Tara Westover chose the Virginia Woolf epigraph at the beginning of her story?
- What's your favorite quote or passage from the book?
- What aspects of Tara's journey do you most relate to?
- Were there any gaps to Tara's story you wish she had filled in?
- Tara's pursuit of education often feels like a rebellion toward her family and upbringing--how does it differ from her other siblings' acts of rebellion? How is it the same?
- Often we like to talk about how birth order affects development--do you think that Tara's life would have been different if she were the oldest, or middle child, rather than the youngest?
- Growing up so far removed from the world and conventional education, Tara had many gaps in her knowledge of the world, including not understanding the meaning of "holocaust." Discuss how the moment when she realizes this gap impacted her. Are there any other significant knowledge gaps that you discovered in your own education journey?
- Throughout the book, Westover works to challenge and sometimes dispel the "truths" that are presented to her by her father, in order to make up her own mind about the world. Was there ever anyone in your life whose words you took to be true but then later found yourself disagreeing? How do you know if something is true?
- Consider what obtaining an education entails. Oftentimes, when we think of the word, we think of school: classes, lectures, study groups. But much of Tara's education occurred outside of the classroom. Who else, aside from her teachers, helped educate Tara?
- A significant moment in the book is when Tara asks a professor for advice and he encourages her to apply to Cambridge, claiming that she must learn what she is capable of and then figure out who she is. Do you agree with that advice? Was there ever a time in your life when you received similar advice? How did it work out for you?
- Tara's father asserts that his homeschooling can't have been that bad, considering Tara went on to do so well in her education and obtained her PhD. Do you think that she succeeded academically because of him, or in spite of him? Were there any lessons he imparted to her that helped her succeed academically?
- Tara's mother also strove to impart many lessons on womanhood and how women ought to act or behave. Were there any lessons that Tara took to heart? What did Tara reject? How did this affect her relationship with her mother?
- Discuss the effect of the Westover parents' faith on the family. Do you think that their faith had the desired impact on the family's growth and development? How did it affect the Westover siblings?
- How do you think Tara's relationship with her father changed throughout the book? Her relationship with her mother? Did your perception of her parents change as you read? Did your perception of her relationship with them change at all?
- Tara talks about how a person's actions and inactions add up to shape the course of their lives, but her life was also affected by many seemingly random accidents. To what extent are we shaped by our choices, and by events that happen to us?
- Tara talks about "recasting" her mind in college--do you believe that one's mind can be completely recast? Do you think Tara remade herself, or is she still the same girl she was as a teenager, with more perspective?
- Does this feel like this book is an honest depiction of what actually happened? How important is objectivity to you when it comes to reading memoirs? What are some examples of moments where you believe Tara was being extra truthful, or when she might have been bending the truth slightly?
- After reading Educated, has your perception of what makes up an education changed?
- Tara writes, “You could call this selfhood many things...Transformation. Metaphorosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.” What do you make of this? Do you agree with her assessment?
- If you could ask Tara anything after reading her memoir, what would it be?
- Which character, aside from Tara, would you most like to meet?
- What did you know about Educated before you read it? What questions do you still have after reading?
- Can you think of any other hard-hitting memoirs about transformation or family that are similar to Educated? What would you recommend to readers who enjoyed this book? What would you recommend to readers who might not have enjoyed Educated?
- If this book were to be made into a movie, who do you think should play Tara? How about the other characters?
- Would you read another memoir or book by Tara, if she wrote one?
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