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R.E.A.D. Book Club Begins 2nd Year

Date: October 9, 2006
Phone: 269-471-3348

R.E.A.D. (Read, Eat, and Discuss), the Andrews University campus-wide book club is about to begin its second year. This time around, they're doing something a little different. In an effort to give participants a voice in book selection, faculty and staff members will have a chance to vote for the books they would like to see on this year's reading list.

Each employee will be receiving an announcement/voting card in the mail, listing the book options on the back. R.E.A.D. is asking for each person to vote for one of the books in each section, as well as suggest two books that are not already on the list. The books that receive the most votes in each category, as well as two chosen from the write-ins, will make up this year's reading list. Voting cards should be returned to University Relations by no later than Friday, October 20. Below, find a summary of each of the books.

To start off the year, the first book will be Joan Didion's memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. The group will convene at their regular meeting spot at the University Relations house on October 25, from noon-1 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunches, and dessert and a drink will be provided. The reading list winners will be announced at this time.

The group plans to meet on one Wednesday per month at lunch time. Discussions are open to faculty and staff, as well as students.

If you would like to help in the planning of the club, or if you have any questions, contact the University Relations Office at 471-3322, or email

October's Selection:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - "Didion's journalistic skills are displayed as never before in this story of a year in her life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack. This powerful and moving work is Didion's "attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself." With vulnerability and passion, Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience of love and loss. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, wife, or child." (publisher)


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich - "To understand life beyond boom-time America, Barbara Ehrenreich spent months laboring as a cleaning woman; as a waitress; and as a Wal-Mart sales clerk. Her revelations about these hard, supposedly "unskilled" jobs and the difficulty of making ends meet in the U.S. gives this book a powerful, personal edge." (

Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley - "In 1945, eight young American pilots were shot down over Chichi Jima. Seven of these officers were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. The eighth, George H. W. Bush, was rescued by an American submarine--decades later, he became president of the United States. In Flyboys, James Bradley reveals the never-before-told story of the seven brave airmen who subsequently disappeared from history. This is not only an arresting story of humans under astonishing adversity; it is the riveting account of a U.S. government cover-up that persisted for two generations." (

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine - "On a quest for insight into the personal and social realities of human consumption, award-winning journalist and cultural critic Levine (Do You Remember Me?: A Father, A Daughter, and a Search for the Self) undertakes a radical experiment in which, for one year, she and her partner vow to purchase nothing not deemed a necessity. Levine chronicles her year of "Not Buying It" in a series of journal entries reflecting observations about her own purchasing habits, adeptly intermingled with discussions of broader issues such as the psychology of the marketplace, ideas about relative wealth and poverty, the place of public and private goods in a democratic society, and the environmental and economic implications of the human drive to acquire. She explores with refreshing doses of self-critique the emotional and social impulses that drive shopping, reflecting on how readily we define ourselves by what we do (or don't) purchase." (Library Journal, Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.)

The Argument Culture by Deborah Tannen - "In her #1 bestseller You Just Don't Understand, Deborah Tannen showed why talking to someone of the opposite sex can be like talking to someone from another world. Now Tannen is back with another groundbreaking book, this time widening her lens to examine the way we communicate in public--in the media, in politics, in our courtrooms, and classrooms--once again letting us see in a new way forces that have powerfully shaped our lives.

The war on drugs, the battle of the sexes, political turf combat--in the argument culture, war metaphors pervade our talk and influence our thinking. We approach anything we need to accomplish as a fight between two opposing sides. In this fascinating book, Tannen shows how deeply entrenched this cultural tendency is, the forms it takes, and how it affects us every day--sometimes in useful ways, but often causing damage.

The Argument Culture is a remarkable book that will change forever the way you perceive--and communicate with--the world." (From the publishers)


Prayer: Does It Really Make a Difference? By Phillip Yancey - "Editor-at-large of Christianity Today and much-published author Yancey (Reaching for the Invisible God) takes on a deep and difficult subject in his latest book. Collections of prayers are many; admonitions to pray are endless but what good does prayer actually do? Prayer, to Yancey, has many styles and purposes, e.g., lament, gratitude, and grace. Gently and with intelligence and compassion, Yancey works toward a vision of prayer as a kind of "awkward rehearsal" and, ultimately, toward the kind of conversation humankind had with God at the beginning of Creation. Highly recommended." (Library Journal, Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.)

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - "In this humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, C. S. Lewis delves into moral questions about good vs. evil, temptation, repentance, and grace. Through this wonderful tale, the reader emerges with a better understanding of what it means to live a faithful life." (publisher)

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott - "In 2001, Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies established its author as a popular, idiosyncratic commentator on matters of faith. In this collection of essays, Lamott writes about scary times in a post-9/11 world, where terrorism, environmental disaster, and personal tragedy seem close at hand. Plan B offers hope in the midst of despair, mixing Lamott's crazy wisdom ("I think we are diamond hearts, wrapped in meatballs") with starkly honest insights about aging, Alzheimer's, and death." (

Searching for a God to Love by Chris Blake - "Searching for a God to Love reaches out to those seeking a new understanding of God--apart from preconception, institutionalized religion, or pre-packaged agenda. Throughout the book, Chris Blake divides the mystery surrounding who God is and reveals the powerful, infinite, and loving relationship God seeks to have with mere mortals. With chapter titles such as "Beyond Mother Nature" and "The World's Greatest Lover," Searching for a God to Love offers a fresh perspective for those seeking a God in whom they can believe." (


Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir by Neely Tucker - "In 1997 foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, arrived in Zimbabwe. After witnessing the devastating consequences of AIDS and economic disaster on the country's children, the couple started volunteering at an orphanage where a critically ill infant, abandoned in a field on the day she was born, was trusted to their care. Within weeks, Chipo, the baby girl whose name means "gift," would come to mean everything to them. Their decision to adopt her, however, would challenge an unspoken social norm: that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children. Against a background of war, terrorism, disease, and unbearable uncertainty about the future, Chipo's true story emerges as an inspiring testament to the miracles that love--and dogged determination--can sometimes achieve." (publisher)

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride - "Around the narrative of Ruth McBride Jordan, a.k.a. Rachel Deborah Shilsky, the daughter of an angry, failed Orthodox Jewish rabbi in the South, her son James writes of the inner confusions he felt as a black child of a white mother and of the love and faith with which his mother surrounded their large family. The result is a powerful portrait of growing up, a meditation on race and identity, and a poignant, beautifully crafted hymn from a son to his mother." (

The House of Sky by Ivan Doig - "Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged, elemental Montana wilderness with his father, Charlie, and his grandmother, Bessie Ringer. His life was formed among the sheepherders and characters of small-town saloons and valley ranches as he wandered beside his restless father. Doig's prose resonates as much with the harshness and beauty of the Montana landscape as it does with those moments in memory that determine our lives. What Doig deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is a raw sense not only of the land and how it shapes us but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to all those who love and loved us, to those who formed our values in our search of intimacy, independence, love, and family. This powerfully told story is at once especially American and quietly universal in its capacity to awaken a longing for an irretrievable past." (publisher)

Passing for Thin: Losing Half of My Weight and Finding My Self by Frances Kuffel - "Literary agent Kuffel chronicles how and why, at the age of 42 and a weight of around 313 pounds, she began the successful process of losing 188 pounds. She describes food binges, ill health (surgeons remove a 36-pound ovarian cyst) and frantic calls to her support group sponsor. But this is far more than 12-step, inspirational reading. Above all, Kuffel tells a great story. She possesses an eye for detail, a knack for dialogue and a remarkable sense of humor in the face of adversity. Mounting a treadmill at the gym for the first time in her life, she closes her eyes and misjudges her pace, "shooting off like a rejected can of Jolly Green Giant peas." When she leaves Manhattan in an "August pall of heat and rusty horizons" to show off her weight loss to her family back home in Montana, she inhales on the Missoula airstrip: "ozone, clover, and cinnamon lingered from the thunderstorms the night before." And Kuffel sees humor even when writing of serious events. For example, she describes waking up and finding herself on a ventilator in the hospital after hours of intestinal surgery. At her bedside is her friend Dennis, who smoothes her hair and deadpans, "I thought you'd want to know your wallet is safe." By the book's bittersweet end, Kuffel has begun dating, but starts to binge as she feels like an inexperienced adolescent. Yet she finds her equilibrium in nature, realizing that although she may lose in love, she can now realize her childhood dream of hiking Montana's peaks." (Publishers Weekly, Copyright  - Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)


Night by Elie Wiesel - "In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died." (

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction." (

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - "Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up." (

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - "Fahrenheit 451 is set in a grim, alternate-future setting ruled by a tyrannical government in which firemen as we understand them no longer exist: Here, firemen don't douse fires, they ignite them. And they do this specifically in homes that house the most evil of evils: books." (


Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - "A profoundly compelling portrait of the 'perfect' English butler and of his fading, insular world. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the aging butler of Darlington Hall, sets out on a motoring trip to England's West Country. En route through the radiant landscape he thinks back to the heyday of Darlington Hall--now owned by a wealthy American--when the house had a full staff of servants and Lord Darlington's influential guests discussed the great matters of the day in the rooms and grounds. For Stevens, Darlington represented the perfect gentleman, anxious to heal the wounds of WWI and using his power to improve relations with a ravaged Germany. Gradually Stevens lets slip how this idealism became tainted by history, how Darlington's meetings with Hitler's foreign minister, made him an unwitting pawn in the Nazis' rise to power." (

The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner - "Joe Allston is a retired literary agent who is, in his own words, 'just killing time until time gets around to killing me.' His parents and his only son are long dead, leaving him with neither ancestors nor descendants, tradition nor ties. His job, trafficking the talent of others, had not been his choice. He passes through life as a spectator
A postcard from a friend causes Allston to return to the journals of a trip he had taken before, a journey to his mother's birthplace, where he'd sought a link with the past. The memories of that trip, both grotesque and poignant, move through layers of time and meanings, and reveal that Joe Allston isn't quite spectator enough." (publisher)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - "Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s. Amir, the son of a well-to-do Kabul merchant, is the first-person narrator, who marries, moves to California and becomes a successful novelist. But he remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend, a Hazara boy named Hassan, who receives a brutal beating from some local bullies. After establishing himself in America, Amir learns that the Taliban have murdered Hassan and his wife, raising questions about the fate of his son, Sohrab. Spurred on by childhood guilt, Amir makes the difficult journey to Kabul, only to learn the boy has been enslaved by a former childhood bully who has become a prominent Taliban official. The price Amir must pay to recover the boy is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the true nature of his relationship to Hassan. Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium." (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - "The God of Small Things heralds a voice so powerful and original that it burns itself into the reader's memory. Set mainly in Kerala, India, in 1969, it is the story of Rahel and her twin brother Estha, who learn that their whole world can change in a single day, that love and life can be lost in a moment. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, they seek to craft a childhood for themselves amid the wreckage that constitutes their family. Sweet and heartbreaking, ribald and profound, this is a novel to set beside those of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez." (publisher)


The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson - "An inspiring and hilarious account of one man's rediscovery of America and his search for the perfect small town. 'The kind of book Steinbeck might have written if he'd traveled with David Letterman.'"  New York Magazine (publisher)

The Ponds of Kalambayi by Mike Tidwell - "Tidwell had no clue what awaited him when he headed off to the remote corners of Zaire as a fresh-faced Peace Corps volunteer. His task was to help the local people raise tilapia fish in ponds they would dig themselves--with only their own muscle-power to help them. By turns hilarious and wrenching, The Ponds of Kalambayi is a masterful account of culture clash, generosity of spirit, and grit." (publisher)

Three Weeks with My Brother by Micah and Nicholas Sparks - "As moving as his bestselling works of fiction, Nicholas Sparks' unique memoir, written with his brother, chronicles the life-affirming journey of two brothers bound by memories, both humorous and tragic. In January 2003, Nicholas Sparks and his brother Micah set off on a three-week trip around the world. It was to mark a milestone in their lives, for at 37 and 38 respectively, they were now the only surviving members of their family. As Nicholas and Micah travel the globe, the intimate story of their family unfolds in the details of the untimely deaths of their parents and only sister. Against the backdrop of the wonders of the world, the Sparks brothers band together to heal, to remember, and to learn to live life to the fullest." (publisher)

On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel by Tony Cohan - "When Los Angeles novelist Tony Cohan and his artist wife, Masako, visited central Mexico one winter, they fell under the spell of a place where the pace of life is leisurely, the cobblestone streets and sun-splashed plazas are enchanting, and the sights and sounds of daily fiestas fill the air. Awakened to needs they didn't know they had, they returned to California, sold their house, and cast off for San Miguel de Allende. On Mexican Time is Cohan's evocatively written memoir of how he and his wife absorb the town's sensual ambience, eventually find and refurbish a crumbling 250-year-old house, and become entwined in the endless drama of Mexican life. From peso devaluations and water shortages to the romantic entanglements of their handyman and the local legend of a man who was "killed twice", On Mexican Time captures the indelible characters, little tragedies, and curious incidents of life in a distinctive Mexican town. At the same time, it enfolds readers in the delight of one of the world's most desirable travel destinations." (publisher)

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