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The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock

The Book of Questions

by Gregory Stock

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A small volume from the late 80s consisting entirely of questions designed to provoke thought, discussion, or self-examination. Most of them are based on hypothetical scenarios. Some semi-random examples: "If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone you chose, would you?", "Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares every night for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?", "What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?" There's lots of moral dilemmas and artificial choices, and questions about what you would trade for wealth or money or love or fulfillment.

I bought this at a library sale something like twenty years ago, and it sat on my shelves all that time until I finally decided to pick it up and read through it. Alas, I think that long, long delay was unfortunate, because this sort of exercise is surely much more interesting, enlightening, and useful when you're college-age and still figuring out who you are and what you value. Coming to it in my 40s, though... Well, for most of the questions either I already had an answer I'd worked out years ago, or the questions just seemed kind of stupid. ( )
  bragan | Dec 1, 2014 |
I really liked this book. I didn't expect to find as many questions that I didn't know the answer to as I did. They were all 'what if's or 'what would you do's and I thought I knew myself quite well but was both pleased and surprised to find that many of the questions posed required some thought. ( )
  AngelaRenea | May 12, 2014 |
Good set of questions to use as discussion starters at dinner and/or parties. Sample question: "If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about any one thing about yourself, life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know, and why?" ( )
  Cherizar | Apr 19, 2014 |
Gregory Stock's The Book of Questions contains over 200 questions on subjects of personal character, relationships, and moral values. It is meant to stimulate deep personal evaluation and character judgment through psychological observation in the context of confrontations with a variety of moral dilemmas. Most of the questions are of an emotionally difficult or socially taboo nature in the intention of encouraging the reader to answer honestly after giving each question serious contemplation. The objective is not to find the right answer, as there are no right or wrong responses, but to gain a clearer insight into one's own values and desires.

It is interesting to observe how your answers to these questions change or remain the same when returning to them every few years or so. I purchased this book in 1996, at the age of 20, and have confronted these questions numerous times. Now, in 2014, at the age of 38, I find that many of my answers have dramatically changed through the years. Most alarming are the answers that have remained the same.

I have personally found this book a useful way to get to know someone and allow others some insight into myself. You can tell much about someone based simply on their refusal or acceptance to address certain questions, or to confront the book at all.

Here are a few of the highlights. Simple "yes" or "no" answers will not suffice. The best questions are those that are hardest to answer.

"You and a person you love deeply are placed in separate rooms with a button next to each of you. You know that you will both be killed unless one of you presses your button before 60 minutes pass; furthermore, the first to press the button will save the other person, but will immediately be killed. What do you think you would do?"

"You are given the power to kill people simply by thinking of their deaths and twice repeating the word "good-bye." People would die a natural death and no one would suspect you. Are there any situations in which you would use this power?" Further, "If you can imagine killing someone indirectly, could you still see doing so if you had to look into the person's eyes and stab the person to death? Have you ever genuinely wanted to kill someone, or wished someone dead?"

"Would you be willing to become extremely ugly physically if it meant you would live for 1,000 years at any physical age you chose?" Further, "How much are you affected by a person's physical appearance? How would it change your life if something happened to make you much less attractive than you are now? Do you find anything disturbing about immortality? What age seems ideal to you?"

"You have the chance to meet someone with whom you can have the most satisfying love imaginable - the stuff of dreams. sadly, you know that in six months the person will die. Knowing the pain that would follow, would you still want to meet the person and fall in love? What if you knew your lover would not die, but instead would betray you?" Further, "In love, is intensity or permanence more important to you? How much do you expect from someone who loves you? What would make you feel betrayed by your mate - indifference? dishonesty? infidelity?"

"While on a trip to another city, your spouse (or lover) meets and spends a night with an exciting stranger. Given that they will never meet again, and that you will not otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your partner to tell you about it? If roles were reversed, would you reveal what you had done?" Further, "How serious would an affair need to be before you would want and expect to be told about it? What makes hearing such a confession so threatening that most people would rather be deceived? Is this kind of honesty more likely to be destructive or lead to greater intimacy and trust? How much do you rust your lover? How much can you be trusted?"

"If God appeared to you in a series of vivid and moving dreams and told you to leave everything behind, travel alone to the Red Sea and become a fisherman, what would you do? What if you were told to sacrifice your child?"

"If you could choose the manner of your death, what would it be?" Further, "Would you prefer to die a hero's death, die a martyr to some great cause, die in a natural catastrophe, or die peacefully? Why is it so tempting to have death catch us in our sleep? How do your feelings about death influence the way you lead your life?"

"What is the worst psychological torture you can imagine suffering? Anything causing even minor physical injury should not be considered."

Some questions seem simple, but upon further reflection prove to be quite challenging.

"Do you believe in ghosts or evil spirits? Would you be willing to spend a night alone in a remote house that is supposedly haunted?"

"What would constitute a "perfect" evening for you?"

"What is your most treasured memory?"

"How do you react when people sing "Happy Birthday" to you in a restaurant?"

"Would you like your spouse to be both smarter and more attractive than you?"

"Would you be willing to give up sex for one year if you knew it would give you a much deeper sense of peace than you have now?"

"If you walked out of your house one morning and saw a bird with a broken wing huddled in some nearby bushes, what would you do?"

"For an all-expense-paid, one-week vacation anywhere in the world, would you be willing to kill a beautiful butterfly by pulling off its wings? What about stepping on a cockroach?" Further, "Why does a beautiful creature merit more compassion than an ugly one? Does it damage us psychologically when we destroy something we find beautiful? How meaningful is the difference between pulling the wings off a insect and stepping on it? Is the decision of how to kill something a minor decision when balanced against the decision of whether or not to kill it at all?"

"Good questions don't lead to answers, they lead to more questions."
  AMD3075 | Feb 24, 2014 |
I have had this book since the early 1990s and has provided the basis for many conversations! If you find a copy of this book at a used bookshop, I would suggest picking it up and taking it home. ( )
  rtp3 | Mar 29, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0894803204, Paperback)

A New York Times bestseller with over 1.9 million copies in print, THE BOOK OF QUESTIONS poses 265 questions that invite people to explore the most fascinating of subjects: themselves. These questions are as intriguing as our very lives because they are about our lives-our fundamental values and beliefs, our dreams and nightmares about sex, money, love, power.

Some of the questions thrust you into a value-testing hypothetical situation (Would you accept 20 years of extraordinary happiness and fulfillment if it meant you would die at the end of the period?), some ask you to delve into your past (When is the last time you stole anything?) and help you find out if you've changed (Would you now return it if you could?), and others reveal your basic nature by examining your behavior (When you are given a compliment do you usually acknowledge it or suggest that you really do not deserve it?). Whether used as an avenue for personal growth, a tool for deepening relationships, or simply as an entertainment, The Book of Questions may be the only publication that challenges-and even changes-the way readers view the world, without offering a single opinion of its own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:44 -0400)

Collects more than 200 questions designed to provoke thought about basic values and beliefs.

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