NIGHTS AT THE READING ROUND TABLE
PLAN FOR 2018-19

Hello, ALL. We would love to have more people join us to talk about books. Most of the time the members of the book group have read the book we offer for discussion during the month. But NOT always. Just come, enjoy the conversation, put in a few cents worth of talk on your own, and know that you’re among friends who love to talk about what they read.

Below are the dates and the content for each meeting. Most of the titles are available at Walter E. Olson Memorial Library or by ordering on interlibrary loan through the Olson Library. If you know, or learn, how to use the Merlin catalogue on the Olson website, you can take care of ordering the book yourself. (www.olsonlibrary.org)

OCTOBER 18

WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A. J. Finn

An Amazon Best Book of January 2018: The Woman in the Window is a seductive and unpredictable novel, like the Hitchcock movies to which author A.J. Finn pays homage. Finn’s protagonist Anna Fox is a child psychologist who lives alone in a New York suburb with a case of agoraphobia so debilitating she hasn’t left the house in months. To occupy her time Anna watches film noir classics from her vast collection, interacts with people online, and sometimes spies on her neighbors. It’s all very innocuous until she sees a horrible crime take place in the house across the park, recently inhabited by a new family. Call the police and report it, right? Things are a little more complicated for Anna—exacerbated by her routine consumption of prescription drugs with a lot of wine. Author A.J. Finn throws curve balls where you least expect them; I gasped out loud and in public, twice, while reading this novel because I was so taken by surprise. In the gap of time since Gone Girland The Girl on the Train we’ve been asking ourselves, when will we find the next big must-read psychological thriller? I think A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window answers that question. —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review

NOVEMBER 15

THE SUN DOES SHINE by Anthony Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row for two murders he did not commit. And it wasn’t new forensic technology that ultimately exonerated him. It was the perseverance of a handful of men and women willing to turn a mirror on the system itself.

If there are books and there are novels, this is a story. It’s a powerful story full of loss, love, pain, honesty, hope, and, ultimately, survival. There is, however, no redemption here. There was no reason to ever believe that Anthony Ray Hinton was guilty of these crimes. None. But that’s not what the legal system is all about. And ultimately it is only the system that can be redeemed. The rest is just human tragedy.

I have been a peripheral witness to the legal system for a long time. And I have known many who are intimately involved in the service of justice who can say little more in defense of the system than, “It’s the best of the alternatives.” That is seldom an acceptable standard for much of anything, but it should never be an acceptable standard when we are consciously and deliberately executing people.
In the end, this is Anthony Ray Hinton’s story. And it is beautifully and simply told by Anthony Ray and Lara Love Hardin. It is, however, a story about us. We are the context. Anthony Ray and the people around him simply shine a light inside the institution that we live within. But it’s up to us to open our eyes and see. “The sun does shine.” But you have to open your eyes to see it. And that, ultimately, is the message of this book.

This is more than a must read. If this book does not become a best seller, shame on us; things are worse than I feared. It’s that important.

DECEMBER 13 (THIS IS A SECOND THURSDAY, BECAUSE OF CHRISTMAS BEING NEAR)

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (A FILM STARRING HUGH JACKMAN ABOUT P. T. BARNUM)

Our family went to watch this movie on Christmas Eve. We hate musicals, and I hadn't seen any previews, so I had no idea what I was getting the family into. Imagine my surprise when the previews ended and Hugh Jackman sang, "Ladies and Gents this is the moment you've waited for." I cringed, and looked over at my husband. He gave me the, "You've gotta be kidding me! We paid $40 to see A STUPID MUSICAL!" look. I shrugged, and mouthed SORRY. We only pony up the money to see movies in theaters, maybe three times a year. If that. Frankly I was mad that we just wasted a ticket.

I sat back, and made up my mind to hate it. But truth be told, I didn't. I liked it. We all liked, but didn't want to admit it out loud to each other. We walked out and all agreed it was better than we thought it would be. Then a funny thing happened. We all kept singing the songs. So... we bought the album. After listening to the songs over and over, we all agreed we needed to go see it again. We loved it, and all agreed it was an awesome movie.

It became an addiction! We kept listening, and the more we listened, the more we loved it. We tried to resist paying to see it again... how silly would that be? After waiting two weeks, we went to see it AGAIN. Now we all agree, BEST MOVIE OF ALLLLLL TIME. Ever. Hands down, our new favorite. It's February 5th and I've already bought a digital copy on Amazon.

Give it a chance! Even if you're like us, and hate musicals!

JANUARY 17, 2019

THE SHOE DOG by Phil Knight

In this instant and tenacious New York Times bestseller, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh” (Booklist, starred review), illuminating his company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Bill Gates named Shoe Dog one of his five favorite books of 2016 and called it “an amazing tale, a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey, riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Phil Knight opens up in ways few CEOs are willing to do.”

Fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. In Shoe Dog, he tells his story at last.

FEBRUARY 21, 2019

OCTOBER LIST by Jeffrey Deaver

"Might well be Deaver's most fiendish thriller ever...as the pace quickens and the story continues to backtrack, solid evidence, established plot points and sturdily built characters all begin to come undone, until what started out as an interactive game becomes a truly unnerving exercise in deception."―New York Times Book Review

"Don't skip ahead to the beginning and spoil the fun that's guaranteed for anyone interested in a thriller that forces readers to use their brains in a creative way...Deaver is a master of manipulation and "The October List" is a small but powerful book."―Associated Press

"Thriller Award-winner Deaver (Edge) delivers a clever, demanding stand-alone...As the ingenious plot folds back on itself, the reader has to reevaluate and reinterpret the constantly shifting "facts" in the case. The finished picture finally emerges with a shock of recognition. This is brilliant craftsmanship in a vastly entertaining package."―Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

MARCH 21, 2019

JANESVILLE AN AMERICAN STORY by Amy Goldstein

This book is, of course, about our own Wisconsin city of Janesville and what happened to it when “the plant” pulled out.

“Goldstein is a gifted storyteller, and Janesville is a raw, beautiful story, one that sheds needed light on a country searching for some pathway to the future.”
—J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

“The most illuminating business book of the year.... If you really want to understand what’s going on in today’s real economy — beyond the headlines about new stock-market highs, tax xpolicy or the latest list of billionaires — spend some time with this true tale.”
—Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times

“Janesville is haunting in part because it’s a success story.... One is awed by the dignity and levelheadedness of its protagonists, who seem to represent the best of America.... Goldstein is a talented storyteller, and we root for her characters as, moment by moment, they try their hardest.”
—The New Yorker

“A superb feat of reportage, Janesville combines a heart-rending account of the implications of the closing on GM workers and their families with a sobering analysis of the response of the public and private sectors. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the economy of the Rust Belt — and its implications for America’s once-proud middle class.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

APRIL 18, 2019

BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lis Wingate

This is a great novel based on true stories of children practically stolen from their families, scrubbed up to be given up for adoption to rich families. Woe betide those who did not scrub up well or submit to their fate.
6 people found this helpful

This was a great book, based on actual happenings which makes it incredible heartfelt at what happens in life, without us realizing that things aren't what they are supposed to be. Excellent read about stolen children split apart and sold. Well written with great detail
It is one of those easy to loose yourself into books. The two-person perspective makes it more wonderful, and keeps you wandering what the true story is until the very end.

MAY 16, 2019

THE BAKER’S SECRET by Stephen P. Kiernan

Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.
In the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.
But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.

Well, that’s the tale for this year, folks. Once again, we welcome you to come to a discussion. You will surprised at what you learn. We also encourage you to read the books.