I love to hear from folks who are reading and talking about Smile at Strangers with their friends. I also love to answer questions! I am available to meet with book clubs over the phone, via Skype, or in person if your group is reasonably close to where I live (Austin, TX). You can also send me a few questions to answer over email. Please send requests, questions and comments to bookclub(at)susanschorn.com.
Here, I’ve put together some group activities and discussion suggestions your reading circle might like to try, arranged by category:
A note on triggering and privacy issues:
Any time we discuss issues related to their personal safety, we may experience strong emotional reactions. In any group of women, you can be almost certain that at least some group members have been the victims of violence. And even if they haven’t, people can still respond viscerally to frightening topics. So it’s a good idea to begin your discussion of Smile at Strangers with a reminder that no one should feel obligated to talk about personal experiences that make them uncomfortable.
Also, encourage your group participants to engage in active self-care: If the discussion makes them uncomfortable, they should feel free to step out of the group for as long as they need to. If you are leading the group, try not to let the conversation center on any one person’s experience (especially negative experiences) for too long, and be responsive to signs of discomfort. If the discussion becomes too emotionally charged, move the group on to a new topic. This will help everyone build positive and empowering memories of their discussion of an important subject, and help them have more such conversations in the future.