Psych & the City #2
Below is the discussion guide for Talisman Turner Minds the Gap. It’s perfect for book clubs who love to explore questions regarding love, marriage, and psychology.
PS: These questions do contain spoilers, so make sure you read this romantic comedy novel first.
- Tali has several ideas about what a boyfriend should–and shouldn’t–do; many of them are included in the clauses of her “boyfriend contract.” Are there other rules of conduct you think should be added? If your boyfriend or spouse received a written list of your rules, do you think it would help or harm your relationship?
- Talisman’s mother declares to Tali, “There are at least four soul mates within the world for each person…you can find your bliss with anyone of these four individuals, but at a given moment, only one type of work will make you feel you are fulfilling your life’s purpose.”
Do you agree or disagree?
- In Chapter 7, Tali tries to replicate Theodore Mita’s experiment involving photos and mirror reflections with Ris in the J Crew dressing room. Which image do you prefer–your reflection in the mirror or a headshot-style photo? Which image do your friends prefer? Do you think these preferences can be explained by familiarity?
- Do you believe in the principle of excitation transfer (as described in Chapter 14)?
Think of the best date you ever had. Did it involve an activity which accelerated your heartbeat and buckled your knees? Or was it more sedentary in nature?
- During all of their long distance chats, Graham never told Tali how old Emma was…leading Tali to make an incorrect assumption. Do you think Graham encouraged Tali to believe Emma was older than she was? Or do you think the error was entirely due to Tali’s own overactive imagination?
- In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed that in general, people are more likely to feel flow, or optimum experience, while at work. However, when they’re at work they wish to be elsewhere. “Conversely, when supposedly enjoying their hard-earned leisure, people generally report surprisingly low moods; yet they keep on wishing for more leisure.”
How do you account for this paradox?
- Do you believe that people need a third place–outside of their home and work–to relax and unwind? If so, what is your third place?
- In Chapter 28, Tali claims she’s convinced that altruism isn’t a natural personality trait, but a behavior elicited under certain situational conditions. Do you agree or disagree? Why do you think Emma volunteered to draw sketches of female models for Tali’s idea book?
- Tali mourns the disappearance of the red British phone booths from the British landscape. “Cell phones don’t have half their charm,” she muses. What cherished items have disappeared from your life in the name of progress? Is progress always good?
- After the debacle at Madame Tussauds, Tali concludes that her psychology degree is “utterly and completely 100% useless.” While her reliance on psychological theories has definitely caused her trouble, do you think they have helped her too? In what way?
- When psychologist David Buss asked college students which would distress them more–having your romantic partner develop a deep emotional attachment or have passionate intercourse with another person–a significantly greater number of women chose the former. Does evolutionary biology adequately explain the difference (see Chapter 39)?
What would disturb you more: an act of sexual infidelity? Or an emotional one?
- At the end of the novel, Graham reveals his intense jealousy over Tali’s friendship with Doug. Does Graham have a reason to be jealous? Was Tali justified in becoming upset over the shower head, shower curtain, and shower basket?
- Graham eventually confesses to Tali why he never wanted to discuss his past with Emma. He was afraid Tali would make an ultimatum he couldn’t honor…and he was also afraid that Tali would perceive him as “damaged goods.” Do you think these were legimate reasons? How long do you think Graham could’ve kept his secret before he would’ve become dishonorable? Or do you think he behaved dishonorably by trying to hide it in the first place?
- Emma’s beautiful, talented, and poised. Yet, it’s Tali who wins Graham’s heart. What quality (or qualities) do you think Tali possesses which gave her the edge?