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Eagle Harbor Book Group, 2017

Welcome to the web site for the Eagle Harbor Book Group. This site is designed to allow members a chance to nominate books for discussion, display the current voting status of books once voting opens, and to list the schedule of books and locations once the voting closes. The appearance of this page will change as readers nominate books, vote, and a schedule is created with the most current activity appearing near the top of the page.

The menu at the top allows members to review the books discussed in past seasons so that they can recall what was discussed and when as well as to review books that were nominated but not discussed. You can use this 'past years' menu to see what we discussed last summer, who lead the discussions, etc

Books, Refreshments, and Meeting Schedule, Summer 2017
June 25, 2016
Here's the Summer 2016 schedule including the book, location, and lead speaker. The refreshment schedule has not been set as of this date.

July 2: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; Jack Marta leading /hosting
July 23: Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance; Rene Johnson leading. Community Building
August 6th: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Ellie Dahlstrom leading. Community Building
August 20th: Poetry Night. Community Building is reserved if nobody can host.
Sept. 3: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; Paul Freshwater leading/Bobbie and Paul hosting

Voting 2017
The polls will open on April 3, 2017 and will close at midnight, eastern time (as listed on your email) on April 15, 2017. You may vote for no more than 4 books. (Sorry, I know that may be difficult given these nominations.) You don't have to vote for four but you can not cast more than 1 vote per book. No fair trying to cast all 4 votes for your 'favorite" choice. We will have 4 book discussions and 1 Poetry night. Please email your votes to Larry at no later than midnight, eastern time, April 15, 2017.(Note the deadline was extended until Midnight, Monday April 17.)

Here are the final votes as of 9:00: AM, Tuesday, April 178, 2017. Stay tuned for details about scheduling, locations, etc.

Books Suggested for 2017
Votes Book
13 When Breath Becomes Air, suggested by Jack Marta
12 Hillbilly Elegy, suggested by Rene Johnson
10 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, suggested by Ellie Dahlstrom
9 The Nightingale, suggested by Paul Freshwater
6 The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, suggested by Bonnie Hay
6 The Wright Brothers, suggested by Mary Beth Tallon
6 The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II, suggested by Ruth Mohr
5 Small Great Things, suggested by Mary Beth Tallon
5 Underground Railroad, suggested by Mary Beth Tallon
4 An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, suggested by Elaine Wildman
4 The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World , suggested by Ruth Mohr
3 Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, suggested by Nancy Molloy
2 Hamilton, suggested by Sue Church
2 Thank You for Being Late, suggested by Sue Church
2 Endurance and Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition, suggested byDavid Owens
2 Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, suggested by Ruth Mohr
2 Destiny of the Republic suggested by Larry Molloy
1 The Discreet Hero, suggested by Sue Church
0 Between the World and Me, suggested by Ruth Mohr


Nominations/Discussion for 2017

This list appears in the sequence in which I receive the nominations. Thus the first nomination will appear at the bottom of the list and the last nomination received at the top. Nominations will be accepted from March 8 through March 31, 2017. JoJo's email of 3-1-2017 had some suggested guidelines, including:

"As you consider your titles, think about length, paperback when possible, and what would provide good fodder for discussion. Both fiction and non-fiction selections are welcomed, including non-winners from previous years. You are certainly not limited to one nomination; if you have several that are discussion worthy, send them in."

Please send your nominations to Larry Molloy at .

Here are the books that have been nominated for this summer's readings:

March 30, 2017, David Owens has one recommendation that actually entails reading two different but related books. Please treat the two as one selection and both would be included as one vote. David says he highly recommends these two books: Endurance, by Alfred Lansing, 1959.  Between 300 and 400 pages depending on the edition.  The incredible story of Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to Antarctica.  His ship was caught in the ice and eventually crushed, and had to be abandoned.  Then the ice floes they were on started breaking up and they had to take small life boats to a tiny island called Elephant Island.  Then several of the men took a small lifeboat something like 800 miles to the whaling station at South Georgia.  Dead reckoning was all they had.  Eventually Shackleton made it back to Elephant Island and rescued every single man!  It has been called the greatest survival story ever. 
The second book in the pair is Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition, by Caroline Alexander, 1997.  148 pages.  Written (tongue in cheek) by the ship's cat, Mrs. Chippy (who was actually a he), describing the expedition from the cat's point of view.  It is absolutely hilarious.  He had nothing good to say about the dogs.  Includes photos that say things like "Mrs. Chippy is just behind so-and-so."  At the end, Shackleton rules that they cannot take the cat with them in the lifeboats.  Her owner is furious.  Mrs. Chippy says he's a bit tired, and will take a little nap before continuing her duties.  And the book ends.  This is not to be missed.

March 29, 2017, Ruth Mohr sent in several suggestions. Perhaps it's best to let Ruth introduce her selections:
My main theme for reading the last two years, learning how other people who live and have lived here experience this country, led me to some great books which I propose below. The first 3 could lead pretty directly into discussions of power and privilege. Even if we don’t read them as a group this summer, I encourage you to explore them – maybe next winter. The last one is my attempt to balance this heavier diet by learning to cultivate more joy in my living. Bon appetite!

Trying to understand better how we, as a country, got to where we are today politically, I picked this book up during a stop on the drive to the DC Women’s March. This, along with Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (which rings true because I grew up in that story) locked another piece into position in this puzzle for me. Berry, a farmer as well as writer and poet, spoke of what he saw in his world. Arlie Russell Hochschild (professor of sociology at UC Berkeley), on the other hand, was searching to understand something that her personal experience did not help her to understand – why and how the tea party developed – so she spent 5 years immersed with self-identified Tea Party members in rural Louisiana exploring (what should be nonpartisan) issues related to the environment). The outcome is the very readable story of the people she met and interviewed and became friends with as well as her related sociological analysis in Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right—a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. An important perspective on today’s puzzle – or at least on part of it. Good Reads link:

Who knew that FDR had a secret prisoner exchange program that led to America’s only family internment camp during WWII – one that primarily held German plus Italians legally in this country plus their American citizen children and often citizen spouses? I certainly didn’t. I always thought that a huge factor in the unhappy chapter of the Japanese internment camps was likely that they looked different. That is still likely but the internment of Germans and Italians (who look like me) was a shock. The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II tells this story and follows specific families interred there, plus some people who worked in this camp, through the war years and into the post war world. When she was a child, a professor I knew at the UM School of Public Health and her family were part of the last exchange out of Germany. Until contacted by the author, Jan Jarboe Russell, while she was researching the book, Irene Butter had never understood this part of her past.  I leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "A democracy which does not serve all people could not survive long". Good Reads link:

The third book took me into a world that does not look like me, with which I have had some contact but not a lot, and not much recently. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a father’s letter to his adolescent son that addresses the questions, “What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history [of race] and free ourselves from this burden?” It is a powerful and beautifully written book – although I did not find it easy to read. I encourage everyone to read it whether this summer or later. (I also found that it gave me food for thought about our planet, its plundering, and the question of where from here on this basic issue for all of us.) Good Reads link:

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived years of exile and the violence of oppression. Despite these hardships – or, as they would say, because of them – they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama celebrated the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday by spending a week together to explore the question, “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?” Through this exploration, they hoped to create a gift for others. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams) shares the story of their exploration and the daily Joy Practices that anchor their emotional and spiritual lives. Good Reads link:

March 27, 2017, Elaine Wildman suggested that we should read An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. It's a 239 page paperback available from Beacon Press.  Elaine writes " It's an eye opening (for me anyway) look at a our country's history from the viewpoint of the people we displaced.  I didn't know that the land was well settled with a group of nations and federations and a  population near that of Europe at the time.  It's uncomfortable reading and I wish I could discuss it with you.  I'll just say that on the road to wisdom and insight it helps to see things from the others' point of view."

March 26, 2017, Ellie Dahlstrom wrote that we should consider A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Full of a great cast of characters, Russian  history , honor, civility  and great good humor, this story of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is a great read. It follows the Count from his sentence to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1929 for the next 40 years. To quote the book cover "one beautifully rendered scene after another this singular novel casts a spell."  Count Alexander Rostov  is a character to be remembered.

March 14, 2017, Mary Beth Tallon sent in three suggestions:
Small Great Things is the "most important novel [of 23] that Jodi Picoult has ever written" (Washington Post).  The 467 pages, though deep and serious, fly by.  Ruth Jefferson, an engaging, black, labor-and-delivery nurse comes smack up against a group of white supremacists who present her -- and the reader -- with a gripping ethical dilemma.  I think this will become a modern classic.
Underground Railroad, though fiction, reads like history.  Cora, a young slave woman who escapes from a plantation in the ante-bellum south, finds her way north on a series of underground railroad "trains."  Colson Whitehead's characters are vivid and sympathetic; the adventures of Cora both hair-raising and idyllic.  A terrific read, this book doesn't slow down.  306 pages and I wished it had been longer.
The Wright Brothers is David McCullough's newest book. Much more than the story we all know, it presents Wilbur and Orville in all their homey glory living the American Dream with its bumps and triumphs.  It is an appealing portrait of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 320 pages

March 10, 2017, Jack Marta wrote that we should consider reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. It's a small book of 228 pages. "At the age of 36 as a resident in neurosurgery he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He chronicles his transformation from a naive medical student to a neurosurgeon. Several questions are wrestled with, e.g. “What makes life worth living in the face of death?”. A quick and unforgettable read."

March 10, 2017, Bonnie Hay sent a note nominating “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World”   by Andrea Wulf. Bonnie writes" I have been a nature educator for over 4 decades and certainly knew what the Humboldt Current was and had seen Humboldt Bay on a map, but had never given a second thought to the person that these natural features were named for.  I was awestruck by this biography of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) a Prussian naturalist, explorer, and author of encyclopedic works on natural history and geography.  Von Humboldt hob knobbed with the likes of Goethe, Jefferson, Bolivar, and inspired the work of Darwin, Muir, Thoreau, and Wordsworth. Wulf paints an intimate portrait of the man who was hailed as the most famous scientist of his era. She credits  von Humboldt with first promulgating the  concept of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things and with noting human capacity to adversely alter natural systems.  She includes vignettes of the men who helped inform von Humboldt’s thought and whom he influenced. It is a compelling and well written (albeit long) read. Here is a link to the goodreads reviews: 

March 9, 2017, Paul Freshwater wrote that he would like to nominate the N.Y. Times Best-seller “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. Paul says it's a gripping fictional tale of the Nazi occupation of a small French village.  It brings the consequences of occupation up close and personal, and causes us to at least think about what we as individuals would do if faced with a lethally hostile government.

March 9, 2017, Rene Johnson nominated Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. This former marine and Yale Law School graduate grew up poor in the Rust Belt and Appalachia.  He offers a personal and passionate analysis of poor, white America and what it feels like to be born into social, regional and class decline.  And, in spite of his own "success," it is an urgent if not troubling mediation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of our country. The book is a non-fiction memoir and is 257 pages long.
By the way, Paul Freshwater seconded this nomination and added the following :We second Rene’s suggestion of Hillbilly Elegy.  Both Bobbie and I have read it, and given a copy to our son.  It’s fantastic insight into a culture that we lived next-door to for three decades in Cincinnati, home of the Urban Appalachian Council.  And for many years, we took young people on outdoor adventures across the Ohio River in all parts of Kentucky, many as remote and other-worldly as places described from the author’s early life.  Also good insight into why some of the people who may be hurt the most by current government policies are supporting it nonetheless.

March 9, 2017, Nancy Molloy thinks we should consider reading Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. This New York Times #1 Best-seller tells the story of Bryan Stevenson who as a young lawyer founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice devoted to defending the poor and often wrongly condemned. However it was his work on the case of Walter McMillian, sentenced to die for murder he didn't commit that takes Stevenson on a journey through conspiracy, politics, and legal wars that changes Stevenson's idea of mercy and justice forever.

March 9, 2017, Larry Molloy suggested we look at Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard. Quick: What do you know about President James Garfield, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, scientist Joseph Lister, and assassin Charles Guiteau? If you're like me you knew Garfield was assassinated, end of story. After all, Garfield was in office a mere six months. But this quick reading 300 page book by Millard weaves their stories together and shows use how widely divergent events came together to play a major role in American politics and history.

March 8, 2017, Sue Church suggested three books for us to consider:
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman - Friedman is an author (The World is FLAT, The Lexus and the Olive Tree) and staff  member for The New York Times. He stands in the present, looks to information from the past and projects into the future. He explores Technology, Environment, and Economy using data, stories, and, while he says he is an optimist I think his optimism is maybe getting a bit ragged around the edges! We are headed for some very unfamiliar times and they are not in the dim future. the three areas are undergoing a massive acceleration and human kind is not keeping up.
Hamilton by Ron Chernow - The Broadway hit, Hamilton, is basically this book set for the stage. It is a wonderful history of the life of the author of The Federalist papers , rags to (sometimes) riches, brilliant champion of a strong Federal government. The issues that divided him from Jefferson ( states rights) resonate today. It is a big book and very enjoyable reading. There is plenty of discussion material in it.
The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa - Llosa is a Nobel Prize winner and more to the right than the left. This book is a work of fiction from one the South American greats...a mystery, morality tale,just interesting reading and discussing.

Winter Notes, 2017

We have decided to suspend the "Ive Been Reading" discussion board for the 2017 season.