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Get engaging The Measure book club questions to foster insightful meeting with these discussion prompts. Plus, get free printable book club questions to prepare for your in-person book club.

You’ll learn more about the magical realism narrative and walk away with a better understanding of New York Times bestselling author Nikki Erlick’s thought-provoking book and the messages it imparts about the meaning of life. Let’s get literary!

The measure by Nikki Erlick held in front of a bookshelf.

The Measure Book Club Questions

Discuss the meaning of the epigraph by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What does “The measure of your life lies within” mean?

Would you look in your string box?

How do you think you would react to looking in your string box?

Compare and contrast the ways the characters reacted to the length of their strings.

Would you ask others about their strings as the characters in the book did?

Why do you think 22 was the age at which the strings were first delivered?

Did any of the real-life events the strings affected surprise you?

Did you like or dislike the magical realism element of this book?

Is The Measure a dystopian novel?

Do you think the media’s reaction to the strings was realistically portrayed?

Discuss the significance of books, letters, and other art, which were prominently featured throughout the narrative.

Ben said it was “better to believe in miracles.” Do you agree?

Would you consider pretending your string was different like one of the main characters did?

Discuss the consequences of string-switching.

What role did secrets play in the narrative?

Would you ever secretly look in someone else’s box?

What were the consequences of the string database?

Compare and contrast the strings to real events that cause people to think about life, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discuss how the strings brought certain people together and pulled certain people apart.

Discuss the theme of fate versus free will.

How did the strings affect faith and spirituality?

How did the strings affect the field of medicine?

The historical timing of the strings was discussed in the book. How may their occurrence in the present have differed from any other given time in the past?

Would masks, like the ones discussed in Venice, be freeing?

Discuss the meaning of the New Year in the book.

How did public perception of the strings change over time?

What are the pros and cons of being a short stringer versus a long stringer?

What are your thoughts on the ending for each of the characters?

What do you take away about life from this book?

Printable PDF Discussion Questions

the measure book club questions.


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Why The Measure Is a Good Book Club Book

The Measure is the debut novel of Nikki Erlick, which was selected as a Read with Jenna book club pick.

Quick Plot Summary

In the novel The Measure, one day, every adult over age 22 awakens to find a box at his or her doorstep. The box reads,

“The measure of your life lies within.”

Inside the box is a string of a length that corresponds to the recipient’s lifespan.

Instantly, the world is changed. Some characters grapple with what to do with his or her time left, while others are too afraid to even look in the box.

Meanwhile, history, current affairs, and politics begin to show the consequences of the strings, from the good, like the formation of support groups to the bad, such as various forms of discrimination against short and long “stringers.”


The reader meets such characters as:

  • Nina and Maura – a couple with different string lengths
  • Amie – Nina’s sister who holds support groups
  • Ben – an architect reeling from a string-related breakup
  • Anthony – a presidential hopeful grappling with the strings on a larger scale
  • Jack – Anthony’s nephew and dispassionate military school graduate
  • Javier – Jack’s roommate and passionate military school graduate

As time passes and the meaning and impact of the strings play out in a variety of contexts throughout the world and in the lives of the characters, the reader is left to question, among other philosophical musings, whether the strings are a blessing or a curse.

While the strings are a fictional device, they leave the reader thinking about what it means to embrace time in one’s own life.

Book Review

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Measure is a thought-provoking book about death and dying that exceeded my expectations. It offers a blend of magical realism and a bit of a dystopian feel to get you pondering fate and free will.

And, the concept of the strings was expertly teased out and explored in ways that felt both real and thoughtful.

My only complaint was that it became drawn out to me, so I felt it could have been condensed to pack a bigger punch.

Reading Tips


Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Measure about?

In The Measure by Nikki Erlick, one day, every adult over age 22 awakens to find a box with a string bearing a length that corresponds to his or her lifespan. This changes both the world at large and the lives of the characters, and it forces the reader to think about how to embrace time.

What is the inscription on the box in The Measure?

The inscription on the box in The Measure by Nikki Erlick reads: “The measure of your life lies within.” Inside each box is a string of short or long length, symbolizing the lifespan of the recipient.

What do the strings in The Measure represent?

In The Measure by Nikki Erlick, one day, every adult over age 22 awakens to find a box with a string. The length of the string represents the length of life the recipient will have.

What is the theme of the book The Measure?

The theme of the book The Measure is to find happiness and embrace the time in your life, regardless of its length.

Is it worth reading The Measure?

The Measure by Nikki Erlick is worth reading if you like thought-provoking books about the meaning of life, magical realism, speculative fiction, and/or books with many interconnected characters. These themes also make it a great book club book.


These The Measure book club questions will foster insightful discussion about a thought-provoking novel that forces you to think about the meaning of life and how to embrace time.

Keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts on this thought-provoking read or any questions you may have in the comments below.

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