Freshman-Suggested Alternate Reading Group Guide Questions for Tom Perrotta’s JOE COLLEGE


I often assign my students to read Tom Perrotta’s fantastic Joe College.  (And if they don’t read the book, I ask them to at least follow the advice I gave people about how to discuss a book they didn’t read.)

Like many novels, the publisher includes a set of questions that may stimulate conversation in reading groups that have selected the book.  These are good questions that can encourage spirited and meaningful debate.  For example:

Who grows and changes more over the course of the novel, Danny or Cindy?

What does Danny’s journey in Joe College tell us about social mobility and social class in America?

I just finished discussing the book with another smart and cool set of students.  They responded to my prompts through the course of the book, but had some reading guide questions of their own and we all thought it would be funny to share them.


1. Would Danny be in this situation if he had wrapped it up?

2. On a scale of 1-10, how much of an asshole is Danny?  Explain.

3. Did you know that spermicide that foams like shaving cream existed?

4. What’s going to happen to Cindy’s mom?  That’s the real question.

5. How did his roommates not end up having a kid?  They, like, did it all the time.

6. How was Yale’s policy on smoking pot in the dorms so lenient?

7. Why did they call themselves the Lunch Monsters?  The Whiffenpoofs?

8. When does Joe College show up in the book?

9. What was the significance of the Whiffenpoofs?  They were mentioned so many times.

10. Would Danny qualify for Skull and Bones?

11. What happened with Polly?

12. How many pages is it supposed to be?  When is it due?

13. Can we have class outside?

14. If Danny were a Sylvan mage of the forest and knew that it was his solemn duty to protect the Umbrettage of Bylersia, would he be able to summon his Heart of Quatromain in time to seduce the fair maiden who sits in front of me?

14a. Bro, what?




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