What we're about

This group was created to bring together individuals who read books for substance and ideas. This group is open to artists, musicians, scientists, engineers, and anyone who likes to examine and exchange ideas, respect others' opinions, and is open to learning something from others. We find we get together to discuss what might otherwise be serious topics, but we end up laughing a lot, because it's such a joy to express ourselves and share our ideas...and go off topic now and then. We currently have regular meetings twice a month. At one meeting, we discuss a particular book, alternating between fiction and non-fiction. We decide on the book for each month based on voting on suggestions brought in to meetings by the members. These meetings are held typically at a Panera Bread in Irvine...which might change if this becomes too 'old hat'. At the other meeting, we discuss books on a theme, and occasionally have a meeting on "What We are Reading Now". These roundtable meetings convene at a member's house, and members are invited to present on any book on the topic that is discussed that month. For example, recent themes up for discussion have been "Islam" and "The Current Economic Situation". The meetings are informal, with food, smiles, and general socializing. Suggestions to make this better are welcome!

Upcoming events (2)

Learn About Cyberwarfare and the Use of Social Media by Terrorist Organizations

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Our nonfiction book for Aug is "Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News" by Clint Watts. The author is a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and a Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow. He served briefly in the US Army, worked as a Special Agent for the FBI on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and he has been a consultant for the FBI National Security Branch. He testified to Congress about the Russian interference in the 2016 elections and about Russian cyberwarfare tactics. Here is the publisher's description of this book: "A former FBI Special Agent and leading cyber-security expert offers a devastating and essential look at the misinformation campaigns, fake news, and electronic espionage operations that have become the cutting edge of modern warfare—and how we can protect ourselves and our country against them. Clint Watts electrified the nation when he testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. In "Messing with the Enemy," the cyber and homeland security expert introduces us to a frightening world in which terrorists and cyber criminals don’t hack your computer, they hack your mind. Watts reveals how these malefactors use your information and that of your friends and family to work for them through social media, which they use to map your social networks, scour your world affiliations, and master your fears and preferences. Thanks to the schemes engineered by social media manipulators using you and your information, business executives have coughed up millions in fraudulent wire transfers, seemingly good kids have joined the Islamic State, and staunch anti-communist Reagan Republicans have cheered the Russian government’s hacking of a Democratic presidential candidate’s e-mails. Watts knows how they do it because he’s mirrored their methods to understand their intentions, combat their actions, and coopt their efforts. Watts examines a particular social media platform—from Twitter to internet Forums to Facebook to LinkedIn—and a specific bad actor—from al Qaeda to the Islamic State to the Russian and Syrian governments—to illuminate exactly how social media tracking is used for nefarious purposes. He explains how he’s learned, through his successes and his failures, to engage with hackers, terrorists, and even the Russians—and how these interactions have generated methods of fighting back. Shocking, funny, and eye-opening, "Messing with the Enemy" is a deeply urgent guide for living safe and smart in a super-connected world." (289 pgs)
Amazon rates this book 4.6 stars out of 5 based on over 300 reviews. There are 5 copies in the library.
This will be a hybrid meeting on Zoom and in person at the Panera restaurant on Culver and Barranca in Irvine. Meet on the patio on the side of Panera, where you can join the Zoom meeting on Mark's computer.

Read a Story About the Effects of Neurofeedback Therapy on an Unusual Child

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Our fiction book for Sep is "Bewilderment" by Richard Powers. The author is an American novelist whose works deal with the effects of science and technology. He was born in Illinois but the family moved to Bangkok, Thailand when Powers was 11 years old. He became an avid reader and a musician with proficiencies in several instruments. He majored in physics at the University of Illinois, but then switched to English literature. He was a Stein visiting Writer at Stanford University in 2010 and 2013, where he also spent time assisting in a biochemistry laboratory. In 2013 he was named the Phil and Penny Knight Professor of Creative Writing at Stanford. He won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction for "The Echo Maker" and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for "The Overstory." "Bewilderment" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction. Here is the publisher's description: "The astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. He’s also about to be expelled from third grade for smashing his friend in the face. As his son grows more troubled, Theo hopes to keep him off psychoactive drugs. He learns of an experimental neurofeedback treatment to bolster Robin’s emotional control, one that involves training the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother’s brain…With its soaring descriptions of the natural world, its tantalizing vision of life beyond, and its account of a father and son’s ferocious love, Bewilderment marks Richard Powers’s most intimate and moving novel. At its heart lies the question: How can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful, imperiled planet?" (287 pgs)
Amazon rates this book 4.3 stars out of 5 based on over 7,000 reviews. There are 51 copies in the library.
This will be a hybrid Zoom and in-person meeting at Panera Restaurant on the corner of Culver and Barranca in Irvine. The in-person meeting will be held on the back patio, where Mark will log into Zoom on his computer.

Past events (302)

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