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Discussion questions for ‘Heart’

Our January pick for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book club is Sandeep Jauhar’s “Heart,” an exploration of our most vital organ and favored metaphor. Become a member of the book club by joining our Facebook group, or by signing up to our newsletter. Learn more about the book club here.

Below are questions to help guide your discussions as you read the book over the next month. You can also submit your own questions for Jauhar on our Facebook page, which he will answer on the NewsHour broadcast at the end of the month. Spoiler alert on questions further down.

  1. Why do you think Jauhar opened “Heart” with his perspective as a patient, not as a doctor?
  2. Jauhar says the heart became his obsession because of his family history. Do you have relatable history in your own family?
  3. The heart is the only organ that can move itself. What else is unique about it?
  4. Jauhar takes us through many heart studies and experiments that helped us understand how the organ works and how to fix it. Which of these surprised you?
  5. “Heart” tells us that you can actually die of a broken heart. How does this happen?
  6. Why do you think the heart became such a powerful metaphor for romantic love, and for the soul?
  7. The book includes many diagrams, photos and works of visual art depicting the heart. Which did you find most useful or illuminating?
  8. How do you feel about all of the animal testing done so humans can learn about the heart and how it can fail?
  9. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Why?
  10. How does understanding the human heart help us better understand ourselves as a species?
  11. Jauhar describes the devices invented to treat heart disease, but argues we are better off focusing on how we live. Do you agree?
  12. The end of the book returns to Jauhar’s family history with heart disease. What did you learn about your own?
  13. How will this book change how you live, if at all?

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