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a best book of the year  •  a best book club book of the year  •  a most fun book ever  •  a #1 pick in the nation

3 different reading group guides


guide # 1 -- public service quiz

what is of greater service to the american people:
a. riding on a nuclear submarine, pretending to sink ships and wipe out major cities by firing torpedoes and intercontinental ballistic missiles?
b. wiping up barf when you're the only person with access to the paper towels and mop.
c. riding in a lear jet
d. watching rich people try to ride a horse
e. getting on c-span wearing really expensive clothes
f. standing in your yard wearing $19 scrubs and petting your dog

first aid quiz

1.  what do you do when someone is electrocuted in an isolated area and one of you just sharpened your pocket knife?
2.  how do you remove a cast if it's getting on your nerves?
3.  what happens if you sew yourself up with embroidery thread?
     a.  should you wash the cut before sewing it up?
4.  what is the correct tool to use to remove a splinter?
5.  what do you do for a severed jugular vein?
6.  what do you do if four enemas do not seem to be working?

medicare coverage quiz

1.  does medicare cover guillotine-related claims?
     a.  list one possible post-legal-execution-by-beheading claim.
2.  does medicare cover spacecraft accident-related claims?
     a.  does medicare cover claims related to spacecraft launching pad accidents?
     b.  does medicare cover claims related to weightlessness aboard spacecraft?
3.  does medicare cover
     a.  "spoiled child"
     b.  "spring fever"
     c.  "quarrelsomeness"
     d.  "clumsiness"
     e.  "double whammy"
4.  does medicare have provisions for "stubbed toe"?
5.  does medicare have provisions for "sore finger"?

test your knowledge of smoky mountain dialect

1.  what is "worshing out feet"?
2.  what is an "escape goat"?
3.  what is "the punies." 
4.  extra bonus question:  who had the punies?

general questions

1.  what type of animal was named "forrest gump"?
2.  why pour ice water into a sick person's ear?
3.  if a sick person is chatting with you, should you ask them before terminating their life support?

guide # 2 -- a more traditional (serious) guide

a book club in jackson, mississippi asked for a more traditional reader's guide, but i find it impossible to make one for a true book about the people i love most in the world. when you know the people in a book, they're "human beings" not "characters" and they deserve respect from me about every aspect of their lives. it feels wrong to second-guess any of their life choices, especially ones made in the sorts of stressful circumstances discussed in my book. so i don't want to make a list of questions about them, but about us... here's what i came up with:

(1) name people you've known who were happy despite terrible outer circumstances in their lives -- or the reverse -- people who are unhappy despite having it all.
(2) admit the stupidest response you ever made to an emergency situation.
(3) what would you would feel if a close friend told you they'd been diagnosed with a fatal disease.
(4) think about a drug or alcohol addict you've known, what their life is like, and what affect they have on the people closest to them.
(5) admit your goofiest episode of hypochondria.
(6) admit, at least to yourself, a time when someone was sick or in pain and needed your help and you didn't give it.
(7) what's the most fun you ever had in your life?
(8) what was your dream when you were 30 years old...does it matter to you now?

guide # 3 -- official, formal reader's guide

official reader's guide for heart in the right place

or visit reading group guides online for the guide that appears in the back of the paperback edition of heart in the right place.