What we're about
Upcoming events (3)
You've got time to read one book, and wish you could read ten? This book club is for you -- each person reads at least one book on a topic, and we meet to learn from others who read a different book on the same topic. Recent topics have included Climate Fiction, Our Tangled Genetic Heritage, the Decline of the Middle Class, and Soil and Civilization. This month we learn about several plans to make America a Democracy again, and heal the break between people and government. In the first part of the meeting, Sam Dale-Harris, activist and author of Reclaiming our Democracy: Healing the Break Between People and Government (2013) will join us by Zoom. He'll give a 20-minute presentation on how he has helped thousands of ordinary citizens transform from hopeless bystanders to powerful advocates. His book is the story of the organizations that he has founded or coached, in the areas of microfinance, child survival, and climate change. After the presentation he'll answer questions, then we'll further discuss his book and other books. Other suggested books on this topic: Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, by Frances Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen (2017)...or any other book by Frances Moore Lappe. They Don't Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy, by Lawrence Lessig (2019)...or any other book by Lawrence Lessig Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America A Democracy Again by Dan Pfeiffer (2020) The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement by David Graeber (2013) Our intent is to read books we might otherwise not read, consider concepts from angles we haven’t looked at before, and have a friendly, engaging conversation. A few notes about the structure of our meeting: outside of the portion of the meeting led by our guest author, we'll spend a few minutes going around the 'room' hearing a few sentences about what each of us have read. We'll then give each attendee, taking turns, a longer time to expand on what they read -- why they chose it, how it affected them, what they liked and didn't like about the writing style, who they would recommend the author to, and so forth. This meeting will be held on Zoom. The Zoom link will be shown once you RSVP. Send a message to Kathleen Andrews, the meeting host, or to Dianne Etchison, this group's co-organizer, to obtain the Zoom password. See you on Zoom. Although public libraries are closed, some offer curb-side pickup of books on reserve. If you already have a library card, simply find the book you'd like to read using the library's web site, put the book on reserve, and you'll receive an email when the book is ready for pick-up.
Our nonfiction book for Jun is " Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster" by Adam Higginbotham. This is the author's first book, and it has become an international bestseller. It won the 2020 William E Colby Award for military and intelligence writing and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Here is the publisher's description: "Journalist Adam Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster—and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters. Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth. (538 pgs) If the length of this book is too daunting for you, watch the 6-part fictionalized version of it on Hulu called "Chernobyl." It is excellent. Amazon rates this book 4.8 stars out of 5 based on over 1500 reviews.
Our fiction book for July is "The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead. This book just won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is his 7th novel and his second Pulitzer Prize. His book "The Underground Railroad" (2016), won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize. Here is the publisher's description of "The Nickel Boys": "As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers." (224 pgs) Amazon rates this book 4.6 stars out of 5 based on over 1700 reviews.