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Discussion questions for ‘Trick Mirror’

Our January 2021 pick for Now Read This, the PBS NewsHour’s book club with The New York Times, is Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror.” Become a member of the Now Read This 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 Jia Tolentino on our Google form.

WARNING: Spoiler alert on questions further down

  1. The subheading of Tolentino’s book is “reflections on self-delusion.” What do you think the author means by “self-delusion,” and how does she consider it in her essays?
  2. In “The I in Internet,” Tolentino writes about how “performative solidarity” gives users the false sense they are effecting change by simply posting on social media. Have you observed this phenomenon? What do you make of her critique?
  3. Did this book make you think differently about how you use technology in your day-to-day life?
  4. “Women are genuinely trapped at the intersection of capitalism and patriarchy,” Tolentino writes in “Always Be Optimizing.” Have you experienced the effects of these forces on your own life?
  5. How do Tolentino’s own life experiences inform her views of modern-day feminism?
  6. “The con is in the DNA of this country,” Tolentino writes, referring to everything from rising college tuition debt to the 2008 housing crash as evidence of the ways powerful institutions “scam” Americans. Did you identify with this idea? Why or why not?
  7. What did you think of Tolentino’s writing style? Were there certain lines or passages that stood out to you? Did you have a favorite essay?
  8. Tolentino draws upon the work of other writers, critics and theorists to support her own arguments. Was there an instance that stuck out to you?
  9. Tolentino has been described as a quintessentially millennial writer. Do you think readers of other generations connect with her work as well?
  10. While the author is deeply critical of late capitalism and its impact on U.S. society, did any of her essays leave you feeling hopeful?

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