This reading group guide for The Anatomy of Dreams includes an introduction, 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.
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Young couple Gabe and Sylvie are lured into a controversial sleep study by their charismatic boarding school headmaster, injecting mistrust into the trio and revealing the immense, uncontrollable power of our dreams. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Think about Sylvie’s relationship with Gabe from their first days at Mills to Wisconsin. How does their relationship evolve over the course of the novel?
2. How did you first react to Dr. Keller and his influence over his students? Why are Gabe and Sylvie attracted to joining Keller in his controversial, secretive line of work?
3. How does painting help Sylvie process her feelings?
4. Why do you think Sylvie decides to go with Gabe when he suddenly reappears in her life? Do you think she ever trusted him after he disappeared from Mills?
5. How does Gabe change in the years between high school and the years in Wisconsin?
6. Why do you think the author used nonlinear storytelling to give insight into Sylvie’s life? How did this influence your understanding of the storyline?
7. Consider the themes of privacy and intrusion throughout the novel. How does the issue of privacy play into Gabe and Sylvie’s relationship? How does it affect their work?
8. Think about Sylvie and Gabe’s first interactions with Thom and Janna. Why does Sylvie end up telling Thom so much about their work?
9. Sylvie and Gabe can’t really have close friends due to the secrecy their work requires. How does this loneliness and isolation affect Sylvie? How does it affect Gabe?
10. Thom argues that the subconscious is perhaps best left alone, that it’s dangerous to make people aware of their darkest dreams and subconscious desires. Do you agree with Thom? Why or why not?
11. How do the interactions with Jamie and Anne change the relationship between Sylvie, Gabe, and Keller?
12. How did you react to the revelation at the novel’s climax? Do you think Sylvie suspected something all along?
13. Why doesn’t Sylvie confront Keller and tell him the real reason she left Wisconsin?
14. Does Sylvie get the closure she needed from Keller? From Gabe? How is she affected by the chance meeting with Thom in Seattle?
15. Consider the last scene in the book, when Sylvie gazes at the stars and considers Keller’s theory of the conscious and subconscious minds. Do you think Sylvie still believes in Keller’s work? Why or why not? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Experiment with keeping a dream journal. Keep your journal next to your bed and record your dreams as soon as you wake up each morning. Look for interesting patterns or themes, and share some of them with your book club. For help with decoding your dreams, visit www .DreamMoods.com or www.TheCuriousDreamer.com.
2. Take a painting class with your book club at a local community center, school, or art store. Try your hand at painting representational interpretations of your dreams, just as Sylvie does in The Anatomy of Dreams
3. Learn more about the author at www.chloekrugbenjamin.com/. Catch up with Chloe’s other writing, connect on social media, and check out Chloe’s book recommendations on her blog!