The group discussion may have passed, but that’s no reason not to go ahead and read the book. Once you finish reading you’ll still find the ideas floating in your mind ready to sneak into your everyday conversations. This phenomenon is what makes one a member of the “Club.”
December 2011 – Dirty Santa “Favorite Inspirational Book Exchange” Don’t forget to be on the lookout at one of our fine local used book stores for a copy of a book that has some great meaning for you; one that changed your life in some way. We’ll be wrapping those books in festive paper and exchanging them in a rousing game of “Dirty Santa” at our holiday gathering on December 8. Every reader will go home a winner.
November 2011 – “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman. The book is set against the backdrop of a fictional English-language newspaper based in Rome. The chaos of the newsroom becomes a stage for characters unified by a common thread of circumstance, with each chapter presenting an affecting look into the life of a different player.
October 2011 – “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and intergenerational discussion with the YoUUth Group. The first book in a young adult science fiction trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic America some time in the near future. The country has been carved into “districts,” that are required to draw the name of a boy and a girl to compete in an annual televised survival match where only one winner emerges alive.
September 2011 – Discussion for the book “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman is postponed until November.
August 2011 - “The Last Lecture”by Randy Pausch. What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy? When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave—“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”—wasn’t about dying, it was about living. This book combines humor, inspiration and intelligence that make it a book to be shared for generations to come.
July 2011 – “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s is a city of tradition. Silver is used at bridge-club luncheons, pieces polished to perfection by black maids who “yes, ma’am,” and “no, ma’am,” to the young white ladies who order the days. This is the world Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan enters when she graduates from Ole Miss and returns to the family plantation, but it is a world that, to her, seems ripe for change. As she observes her friend Elizabeth rudely interact with Aibileen, the gentle black woman who is practically raising Elizabeth’s two-year-old daughter, Mae Mobley, Skeeter latches ontothe idea of writing the story of such fraught domestic relations from the help’s point of view. With the reluctant assistance of Aibileen’s feisty friend, Minny, Skeeter manages to interview a dozen of the city’s maids, and the book, when it is finally published, rocks Jackson’s world in unimaginable ways. With pitch-perfect tone and an unerring facility for character and setting, Stockett’s richly accomplished debut novel inventively explores the unspoken ways in which the nascent civil rights and feminist movements threatened the southern status quo.
June 2011 – “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time” by Greg Mortenson
In 1993, a young American mountain climber named Greg Mortenson stumbles into a tiny village high in Pakistan’s beautiful and desperately poor Karakoram Himalaya region. Sick, exhausted, and depressed after a failing to scale the summit of K2, Mortenson regains his strength and his will to live thanks to the generosity of the people of the village of Korphe. Before he leaves, Mortenson makes a vow that will profoundly change both the villagers’ lives and his own—he will return and build them a school. Also we discussed “Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way” by Jon Krakauer.
May 2011 – “Unprotected Texts: The Bible on Sex and Marriage” by Jennifer Wright Knust
The Book Group will join Rev. Dave in a four-week discussion of this intriguing book on sex in the Bible.
April 2011 – “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith” by Jon Krakauer.
Krakauer explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalists who broke from the mainstream church in an attempt to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy. Fundamentalist splinter groups (FLDS) saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America’s own borders.
January-March 2011 – “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, and Why Their Differences Matter” by Stephen R. Prothero
The Book Group joined Rev. Dave in a five-week discussion of this intriguing book on world religions.
December 2010 – Book Group Book Exchange
November 2010 – “A Certain Justice” by P.D. James
Venetia Aldridge, a brilliant barrister, has “four weeks, four hours and fifty minutes left of life.” By the time her murder is discovered, readers have not only met most of the suspects, but have also begun to sympathize with whomever might have done her in. Everyone in the victim’s life, from her 18-year-old daughter to the retiring head of chambers, from her former lover to the cleaning woman, has cause to have wished her ill. Adam Dalgleish, James’s poetry penning sleuth, and his assistants, especially Kate Miskin, investigate the many possible suspects. After much examination of the past and present, the murderer is discovered and A Certain Justice is meted out. As with many of the author’s mysteries, psychology and motivation are as important as whodunit and the conundrum presented here is thought-provoking.
October 2010 - “All Over But the Shoutin” by Rick Bragg
This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg’s father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most.
But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg’s mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives—and the country that shaped and nourished them—with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.
September 2010 - “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone but his best friend. Determined to receive a good education, Junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside of himself that he never knew existed.
Written with raw emotion by acclaimed writer Sherman Alexie, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” his first novel for young adults, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one unusual boy trying to rise above the life everyone expects him to live.
Nancy McShane: Tolerance is an important theme in the story. It is important to Junior because he considered his beloved grandmother to be the most tolerant person he’s ever known. Yet as a Spokane Indian leaving the “rez” to go to school in the nearby farming community, Junior discovers that tolerance isn’t always defined as “acceptance of different views.”
The tolerance that Junior encountered more closely mirrors this definition: “the act of putting up with somebody or something irritating or otherwise unpleasant.” Oddly enough, the third definition of tolerance in my dictionary is: “the ability to put up with harsh or difficult conditions.” This was thetolerance that Junior ultimately experienced when leaving the “rez.”
We, as Unitarian Universalists, should not give lip service to the term tolerance. If UUs mean “acceptance of different views” when they say tolerance, then I think they should mean what they say and use the word acceptance in its place. It’s what I try to do.