First-Year Text: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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Study Guide

  1. In The Age of Miracles, time is altered when the rotation of the earth slows. Has your sense of time altered in any way as you have gotten older? Is time fixed or relative? (Consider Einstein's theory of relativity). How do you think your sense of time may or may not shift over the course of your first semester at Baruch College? What sort of adjustments do you think you will have to make?
  2. Do you think the kind of disruption to the planet depicted in this book could actually happen? If so, how? If not, is there any change currently taking place that you think will radically alter life on his planet during your lifetime? What adjustments do you think you personally will have to make? What about public policy changes? How will those happen or be prevented from happening? Will change be embraced or resisted? Why? What accounts for people's different responses to traumatic events and their ability to adapt?
  3. Do you think that the state of the planet that your generation has inherited will result in a shift in expectations for the future from that of previous generations? How will that affect your values? Your goals? What will constitute a good life for you?
  4. How do you think you would adjust to a change like the one depicted in The Age of Miracles? What about your family? Your friends?
  5. The world economy has experienced a “slowing” since 2008. How does the impact of the “slowing” in The Age of Miracles suggest similar challenges and shifts in how we live and might expect to live in the future as a result of the world economic “slowing?” Has the economic slowing affected your lifestyle in any way or your goals and values for the future? How do world events feel like they are spinning out of control like the rotation of the earth in the novel?
  6. The Age of Miracles depicts a seismic shift in the reality of the characters in the book. How do you think your first semester at Baruch College will present a seismic shift in your life and challenge you to adjust? To what extent will you choose to ignore whatever shifts you encounter and respond by continuing to function as you always have? What consequences, if any, do you think will result from such a strategy? What do you think explains such a choice?
  7. In the book, catastrophic events impact the psychological health of the characters in different ways as well as how they relate to one another. What relevance do you think studying the social sciences (psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology) will have on being able to function in the work environment and make decisions in your professional, civic, and personal life?
  8. To what extent do you think you have to consider the impact of your decisions on the lives of others when confronted with challenges like the ones depicted in The Age of Miracles? What factors do you think will influence the decisions you make?
  9. Which character in the book do you would respond most like if confronted with stressors similar to those depicted in the book? What accounts or that? How do you wish you would respond? What kinds of stressors do you think you might face during your years at Baruch College and how do you think you will handle them? Why? How would you like to handle them? What might get in the way? What, if anything can you do to adapt in the way you would like?