Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Here are Stephen King's favorite reads of 2008. And you know, I really like Stephen King (not that I know him, but anyway, I digress) because he's a great story-teller, but also a great reader and champion of libraries. So, I would greatly trust his recommendations! Oh, and this list came originally from King's Entertainment Weekly column, in case you are interested.
Here's the list:
- The Novels of Robert Goddard ("In Pale Battalions, his second novel, was the first book I read on my new Kindle.")
- The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III ("It's terrifying, un-put-downable, and the best novel so far about 9/11.")
- When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson ( As a reader, I was charmed. As a novelist, I was staggered by Atkinson's narrative wizardry.")
- The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney ("If you liked Life of Pi and The Secret Life of Bees, this is for you. ")
- Nixonland by Rick Perlstein ("It's the best history of the turbulent '60s I've ever read.")
- Heartsick/Sweetheart Chelsea Cain ("We've been down Hannibal Lecter Avenue many times, and these two books shouldn't work...but they do.")
- Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh ("Wambaugh's Hollywood is an open-air psycho ward where even the cops need Valium.")
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Cindy Stieg Larsson ("The good news is that Larsson delivered two more novels with this one. The bad news is that he died of a heart attack shortly after doing so.")
- Old Flames by Jack Ketchum ("Remember Glenn Close as the bunny-boiler scorned in Fatal Attraction? Raise that to the 10th power..." )
- The Good Guy by Dean Koontz ("[T]his is Koontz at his Hitchcockiest")
Monday, December 1, 2008
They constitute a handful of the many writers included in a Great Books reading and discussion group that will begin meeting at the Emmet O'Neal library this January.
What is a Great Books reading and discussion group?
A Great Books reading and discussion group consists of a group of adults who read a series of texts - sometimes the full text and sometimes excerpts - selected by the Great Books Foundation, and who meet monthly to discuss the texts using a process called shared inquiry.
The texts represent many of the great works of philosophy, poetry, drama, and literature that have had a lasting influence on western civilization.
What is shared inquiry?
Shared inquiry is a structured process for discussing the texts. It is based on the following five guidelines:
- Participants read the text carefully before the meeting; ideally, twice.
- Participant's conclusions or opinions about what the writer is trying to say are supported by specific references to the text.
- Participants do their best during the meeting to exhaust what the writer has to say about a particular subject before moving on to other areas of discussion.
- Participants respond to each other directly - not to the discussion leader.
- The discussion leader's role is to ask questions, not provide answers, and to keep the discussion on track by bringing participants back to the text when necessary.
What is the value of reading such old and sometimes dense texts?
These texts raise questions that are highly relevant today but often go unnoticed or - if noticed at all - are quickly forgotten or passed over. For example:
- What is the basis for our judgments about right and wrong or good and evil?
- What is the source of these judgments? And should the basis for our personal judgments also serve as the basis for society's judgments?
- What does it mean to be an individual? How much of you is determined by you, by your work, by your family, by your culture?
- What do we mean by free will?
- To what extent are we rational creatures? Or the converse: To what extent are we instinctual creatures?
- Who is God? Why do we worship God, what does that mean, and what role does God play in any or all of the questions above?
- What is truth?
The list of questions can - and will - go on and on as the group works its way through the readings.
Participants often leave a good discussion, not with answers to such questions, but with a sense of awe and wonder at their complexity and the compelling, utterly real, ambiguities they raise. A successful discussion is one where a participant says to him or herself, "Wow - I haven't really
ever thought of that in this way. I could spend the rest of my life thinking about this, and enjoy it."
Is this program too difficult for the average reader?
The program is specifically designed for the average reader. The selections, the way in which the Great Books Foundation has edited them, the suggested questions for discussion, and the principles of shared inquiry are all intended to make the readings accessible to anyone. The
readings are generally short. Sometimes, they may make little or no sense the first time you read them; but on a second reading you begin to see what the writer is trying to say - and if you don't, you come to the meeting and say, "I just don't get it."
What are the specifics concerning the group?
Meetings will take place on the second Monday night of each month from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Meetings will be held in the conference room at the Emmet O'Neal library. Participants will take turns serving as discussion leaders.
An organizational meeting to go over things such as purchasing reading materials will be held on December 8, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. in the Emmet O'Neal library conference room. For more information, please contact Katie M. at firstname.lastname@example.org.