This reading group guide for The List includes discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Join our mailing list!
Get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. As a group, discuss how you consume political news. What is the first type of source that you turn to—websites? Blogs? Television? Radio? Facebook or Twitter? Did reading The List
change how you think about the media, particularly the way that American political stories are reported?
2. Despite the intense atmosphere at the Capitolist
, Adrienne soon discovers, “The paper chewed employees up and spat them out in a matter of months, sometimes weeks. But the ones who made it past the breaking point loved it beyond all reason.”
(28) Why do you think this is? Do you think Adrienne reaches this level of loyalty to it by the end of the novel?
3. On the surface, Adrienne and Payton are very different, but in what ways are they also similar? How do you think Adrienne’s relationship with her sister shapes her personality?
4. Discuss the factors that are motivating Adrienne to dig deeper when she first discovers that Olivia and Stanton are having an affair.
5. “That was the thing about female print journalists. Dressing up, grooming, having two angular eyebrows—all frowned upon. It was still that archaic mentality of trying to blend in with the boys.”
(171) Consider the ways that gender politics factor into life at the Capitolist
. How does the double standard that Adrienne articulates in this quote affect the ways that both she and Olivia approach their jobs?
6. Caroline Cleves Brown, Adrienne’s mother, was a newspaper journalist too, but in the heyday of print journalism. Do you think Adrienne has a naïve perspective of the new media world going into The List
because of her mother’s career?
7. What did you make of Sandro? Did you feel that he led Adrienne on? What did you think about the note that their relationship ended on—were you hoping for a different outcome?
8. James Reddenhurst is, on paper, a near perfect man for Adrienne. Why do you think she can’t commit to him? Is it because she’s infatuated with Sandro, or is it something about James? Would you have picked James over Sandro?
9. Hollywood is fascinated with politics and vice versa. How has new media turned politicians into celebrities, and why are Hollywood actors invited to political events? What does this mean for both the news and politics?
10. Did your feelings toward Olivia evolve over the course of the narrative? Do you divide responsibility for the affair equally between her and Stanton, or do you think that one of them is particularly to blame?
11. If you were in Adrienne’s position, would you have published the story about Olivia and Stanton? Why or why not? In general, do you think that the extramarital affairs of politicians should make headlines? Does the fact that Olivia was a reporter, writing about Stanton, make the revelation of their affair seem more newsworthy and less sensational?
12. Did you think the Style girls were justified in their anger that Adrienne didn’t share the news of her scoop with them before it went to press?
13. In her final confrontation with Olivia, Adrienne says, “I felt guilt—of course I felt guilt—but then in Arizona, and now on TV, I was just doing my job. She of all people should understand that. And she would have done the exact same thing.”
(357) Do you agree?
14. How did you interpret the end of the novel—what do you think Adrienne was planning to do? What did you think she should
do? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Imagine that you are casting the movie version of The List
. Who would play Adrienne and Olivia? What about Stanton, Sandro, or Payton? Share your imaginings with the group.
2. The celebrity-packed White House Correspondents’ Dinner plays a major role in Adrienne’s time at the Capitolist
, and over the past few years, has become a significant event in Washington, D.C. Who would your dream guest be to interview on the red carpet? As a group, you might look up coverage of the event from years past. Consider visiting Click, Politico’s equivalent of the Style section, which author Karin Tanabe once wrote for: http://www.politico.com/blogs/click/
3. Both the town of Middleburg, and the Goodstone Inn, are real places in Virginia. Check out the actual Bull Barn on the Inn’s website: http://goodstone.com/
4. Many of the places Adrienne visits in Washington, D.C., are real too, including the Smithsonian ice rink, Oyamel restaurant, Kramerbooks, and the Freer and Sackler galleries. If you were writing a fictional book about your hometown, which real places would you include in your story?
5. Adrienne spends lots of time crafting her first-day-ofwork outfit and it turns out to be all wrong for Washington. Discuss your biggest fashion faux pas. Were any ever caused by first-day jitters?
6. The pace at The List
keeps Adrienne from having a social life, sleeping more than five hours a night, or even washing her hair with liquid shampoo. Discuss your craziest jobs ever and what you learned from them.