15 The Measure Book Club Questions

You wake up to a creepy wooden box chilling on your doorstep. 


The answer to the biggest mystery ever – how long you’ve got left. This weird box thing blows up the world, everyone’s freaking out and super curious.

The Measure throws eight random people into this mess, each gotta decide if they wanna peek and see their expiration date. 

The book follows their lives as they grapple with this choice, exploring what it means to be human, how much we value our friends, and how to actually, you know, live a life that matters.

So, grab your book club buddies and dive into these discussion questions to dissect The Measure. 

Let’s figure out why we take life for granted and how to appreciate every freaking second!

The Measure Book Club Questions Infographic

The Measure Book Club Questions

  1. The Measure grapples heavily with the question of fate vs. free will. Having the knowledge of your own lifespan essentially handed to you presents a complex dilemma – are your life’s major events predetermined, or do choices still carry significant weight? Consider the characters who had strong plans or aspirations before receiving their boxes – does the length of their string dictate whether those dreams are achievable, or can the characters defy the seeming inevitability of their revealed destiny?

  2. The novel shows the swift rise of social and political stigma against ‘short-stringers.’ This leads to government legislation restricting their rights and opportunities. Discuss how the novel portrays the mechanisms of prejudice – how can something as arbitrary as a length of string lead to such swift discrimination? Does the book effectively draw parallels to real-world historical prejudices or power imbalances, and are these parallels impactful?

  3. Jack and Javier’s decision to switch strings, though motivated by friendship, introduces deeply complex ethical questions. Their choice impacts not only their own lives but the lives of others. Was their decision ultimately a justified act of self-preservation, or an act of betrayal with broader consequences they didn’t consider? Could there have been a “better” solution, or does the very existence of the strings create morally impossible choices?

  4. The novel explores the emotional and psychological toll of living with the knowledge of one’s own mortality. Some characters, like Maura and Ben, seem to embrace and even find peace within their limits. Others, like Nina, grapple with an overwhelming sense of dread. Does the novel realistically depict the variety of ways people would react to such stark knowledge? Could you envision yourself handling the situation differently than any of the characters?

  5. Would you, personally, ever want to know the length of your life? The book ultimately seems to suggest that while the strings bring pain and division, they also inspire appreciation for the value of each life, regardless of length. Does the novel effectively convey this bittersweet message? Do you agree with the ultimate argument it seems to make about the importance of how we live, not merely how long?

  6. The novel explores how short-stringers and long-stringers experience happiness differently. Amie and Ben, despite knowing their time is limited, seem to find fulfillment in their lives. To what extent do you think happiness exclusively comes from embracing the present, or can it still be interwoven with future hopes and dreams, even if those dreams may not fully reach fruition?

  7. The central love stories in the novel (Nina & Maura, Amie & Ben) are profoundly affected by the arrival of the strings. Discuss how these relationships change and evolve due to the knowledge of their time limits. Does the novel suggest that love can triumph over the fear of impending loss, or are some obstacles too great for love to conquer?

  8. The dynamics of families and communities shift drastically with the introduction of the strings. Some families are torn apart by differing string lengths, while others find strength and unity in the face of shared knowledge. How does the novel explore these contrasting dynamics? Does it effectively capture how shared or disparate lifespans might realistically impact how people connect with loved ones and neighbors?

  9. The title “The Measure” has a double meaning – the physical string, but also the question of how one’s life is truly measured. Discuss how characters like Ben (through his relationship with Amie) or Hank (through his career as a doctor) come to define what gives their lives meaning. Does the novel offer a universal message about how we ultimately “measure” a life well-lived?

  10. The media is shown to play a significant role in fostering fear and division among the population. Politicians like Anthony Rollins prey upon this heightened anxiety for personal gain. Does the novel offer a realistic portrayal of how information (and misinformation) can be weaponized in a crisis? Do you find the depiction of characters like Anthony Rollins convincing?

  11. While the novel doesn’t explore religious doctrine per se, characters do grapple with existential questions about life and death. For some, the existence of the strings throws their existing beliefs into chaos. For others, it sparks contemplation about the meaning of life in the absence of spiritual certainty. How does the book handle themes of belief and existentialism, and does it offer any satisfying perspectives?

  12. The reality of death, especially known as premature death, prompts characters to focus on what they will leave behind. Ben’s building and Amie’s engraved bench become examples of tangible, enduring legacies. However, some characters also focus on leaving behind values and memories for the next generation. Does the novel make a strong case for the types of legacies people should strive for, particularly when faced with a finite timespan?

  13. In the wake of the strings, society quickly divides itself into long-stringers and short-stringers. This leads to prejudice and even violence. Does the novel serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of categorizing people based on arbitrary differences? Can you draw parallels to real-world situations where groups are demonized due to perceived differences?

  14. While the strings reveal the timing of death, the novel suggests we still exercise choice in how we live. Think about a character who profoundly shifted their actions or outlook after receiving their string. Did they surrender to a feeling of fate, or were the changes they made ultimately acts of defiance against a seemingly predetermined end?

  15. Jack and Javier’s secret has the most far-reaching consequences. Yet, even “smaller” secrets like Maura and Nina’s initial struggles impact their relationship. Is there a point when “protecting” someone from the truth becomes more damaging than the truth itself? Does the novel offer guidance on when concealing a secret tip from well-intentioned to harmful?

    Read our other discussion guides