Book Club GuideWhen I wrote Beyond Climate Grief, I always envisaged it as a catalyst for meaningful conversations; for sharing experiences and brainstorming ideas on how to process the emotional realities of our future in a warming world. So please: organise some lovely drinks and nibbles, invite friends, talk about the ideas in the book and see where the conversation takes you. I don’t have all the answers, of course; our climate reality is too vast. I hope these book club notes are just the beginning of a dialogue. I’d love to hear from you - suggestions and strategies that have helped you with climate grief or emotional overwhelm, or helped your kids. I can add them to the resources on this website. And likewise with these book club question suggestions. Why don’t you pick 6 or 7 to start with? If you have better ones, go for it and let me know! It’s a work in progress. Like life! Cheers, Jonica Download the printable version of the Book club suggested questions here.
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS
1Have you felt climate grief? Or is there another emotion that best sums up your feelings? Go around the group to see where each person sits emotionally.
2What was your favourite part of the book … and why? Any quotes, passages or scenes you found particularly compelling?
3What concepts or chapters have stuck with you most? Why?
4While the book is a personal journey, it offers suggestions from experts about how to navigate the emotional roller coaster of a changing climate. Were any useful for your life? (Click the + icon for examples)
For example: - the idea that love is a better long term motivator for climate action than fear. - philosopher Joanna Macy’s notion of “Active Hope”. - Anna Rose’s emphasis on courage. - the notion that grief for the world be acknowledged and experienced in order to move forward. - Missy Higgins suggestion we curate our news; limit bad news and balance with good news sources (known as a healthy information diet). - the authors notion we can think of these challenges as an “adventure” – perhaps akin to the novels we read as children. - the psychologists algorithm: 1) name and validate the emotion, 2) change what you can, 3) accept what you can’t.
5What did you learn from the denial and disaster brain chapters about how our brains deal with threats? How does this relate to how you view climate change?
6What were the most inspiring parts of the book?
7What do you think the author was trying to say about looking for heroes – and the potential hero in all of us?
8The book introduces the concept of “heart places” – the places we love deeply. What are your heart places? And how do you think climate change might affect them?
9What would you do to save the place you love? (click the + icon for examples)
- Psychologist Heidi Sumich suggests generating an action plan and committing to it. Joanna Macy talks about catching an inspiring vision. What’s yours? This can be left until after book club, but don’t forget – and report back next time. - Note: while personal actions matter because they help us live our values and reduce cognitive dissonance, it is impossible to be perfect when our entire system is imbued with fossil fuels. For this reason I would advise your plan has two sections: 1) individual actions, 2) more importantly, collective actions such as joining pressure group organisation, or shifting away from fossil fuel exposure in your business or finances.
10Did this book help you? (click the + icon for further prompts)
- Do you have a new perspective as a result of reading this book? - Did you learn something you didn’t know before? - Or did simply naming sharing these emotions with others help?
11Is your life changing as a result of engaging with our climate reality – and how is this making your life better? More meaningful for you? (This is my favourite question because it flips the usual negative on its head.)
12Thinking of climate action (your own or others), what has made you most proud in the last 12 months?
Additional question for parents of school age children
13In the chapter “Worry” which investigates how parents can approach climate anxieties with their kids, which suggestions did you find useful? (click + icon for prompt)
One psychologist suggests parents brain storm practical ideas for their kids while at book club. You’re at book club! Go for it!
Download the printable version of the Book club suggested questions here.