December Meeting: Dinner and a Book Discussion

Our December book is Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan.

After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a lifetime, leading them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. At the heart of the amazing journey was the extraordinary relationship they shared, one that blurred the line between man and dog. Following Atticus is an unforgettable true saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family, as one remarkable animal opens the eyes and heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman to the world's beauty and its possibilities.

Please note that both the location and the date are different than normal. For the December meeting, I wanted to hold our book discussion one week earlier than normal so everyone could enjoy their Holiday celebrations without having to stress over reading a book so we will be meeting on the second Thursday of December (12/12) instead of the third Thursday of the month. I also wanted to avoid the rush of Holiday shoppers at the Columbia Mall so we will be meeting at Stella Notte which is an Italian restaurant in Ellicott City. I have a table reserved for 15 - 20 people in Stella Notte's atrium but I will refine that reservation when we get closer to meeting. More information about Stella Notte and their menu can be found at this WEB site:


In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less—less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.

Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . . .

At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice of Atticus’s breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. Following Atticus is ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world’s beauty and its possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self.

Book Availability at the Howard Count Public Library

Following Atticus is available for checkout at the Howard County Public Library. The Howard County Public Library has:

(8) Copies of the book.

(6) Copies of the book on CD.

Howard County Library Central Branch

10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy

Columbia, MD 21044


Branch Hours

Mon. - Thurs. 10 am - 9 pm

Fri. - Sat. 10 am - 6 pm

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  • Pauline

    Jennifer-- thanks for uploading the pictures. Fabulous!

    December 14, 2013

    • Wayne M.

      I agree 100% with Pauline, thanks to both Jennifer and Anna Marie for posting pictures. I really enjoyed that.

      December 15, 2013

  • Pauline P.

    What a bright Holiday meeting! Thanks Wayne!

    2 · December 13, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Thank you so much for your very generous gift. Two years ago, I joined our book club because I wanted to diversify the type of books I read. So far I've read 24 books that I would have never even picked up had it not been for this group. However, as much as I've enjoyed each book, I've always considered my real gift to be the quality of the people who participated in our monthly discussions. And thanks to your Barnes and Noble gift certificate, I will enjoy everyone's company throughout 2014. Happy Holidays and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you next year.

    4 · December 12, 2013

  • Mary b.

    Sorry I can't make tonight!really enjoy these meetings, but don't think folks would appreciate me bring my disgusting cold along! Take care and I look forward to the next one.:-) Mary Brock

    December 12, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Hi Everyone,

    I wanted to remind you that we are meeting at a different location tomorrow night for our Book Club Discussion. We will be meeting at Stella Notte which is located at 8809 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043. If you arrive before me, our reservations are under my name, Wayne Martin so just use that reservation to help Stella Notte know where you should be seated.

    I hope that your reading is going well if you haven't finished the book, don't worry about it. It's much more important that you come out and have a fun conversation rather than stressing out over some unread pages.

    See you tomorrow at 6:30 PM at Stella Notte.

    December 11, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Here is another question that I would like to discuss when we meet:

    Tom writes of religion in a number of different areas of the book. He prays while hiking often. His theology evolves over the course of the book. How did it change and what did Atticus and the mountains have to do with that change?

    December 10, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Thanks to Sunday's weather forecast calling for snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain, I know that I will get a lot of reading done tomorrow. As I'm reading, here is a question that I'll be thinking about. Let's discuss this at our meeting.

    Freedom is a theme Tom focuses on. Atticus has the freedom to be outside without a leash. What freedoms does Tom have? What limits his freedom?

    December 7, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    As we are reading "Following Atticus" this weekend, here is a question to think about. Let's talk about this when we meet next week.

    What was the relationship between Tom and Vicki Pearson? Why did Tom dedicate his first hiking season to raising money in her name?

    December 5, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Hi Everyone,

    Just a reminder that we will be meeting at a different restaurant next Thursday for our Book Club discussion. On Thursday, December 12, we will be meeting at Stella Notte which is located at 8809 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043.

    I hope that your reading is going well but if you need a 5 minute break, here is a short YouTube video of the "Following Atticus Gratitude Hike" which was hiked on October 5, 2013:

    December 5, 2013

  • Pauline

    Generally speaking, I dislike online personality surveys but came across this one which I enjoyed because relates to fiction books and answers the question "who you are in fiction". I also liked it because it didn't require you to post your results anywhere.

    Below is the link~

    1 · November 27, 2013

  • Pauline

    Hi Wayne~
    As always, I'm looking forward to our discussion but,
    where did "Sweet Tooth" disappear to?

    November 12, 2013

    • Wayne M.

      Hi Pauline, For about 6 months I've been suggesting Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan and I had every intention of making this our December book however I got cold feet at the last minute and decided that Following Atticus would be a better December book. I still would like to read Sweet Tooth, I started a new discussion entitled "2014 Book Suggestions" and added that book as a possible read for 2014.

      November 12, 2013

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