Third Wednesdays readers choose a nonfiction focus

Book club

Howard Live

December 11, 2003

An interview with Jean Leslie, facilitator of the Third Wednesdays Book Club at the Savage library.

How did the club start? It started with a patron, Bobbie Flock, who told me how much she liked to read nonfiction. I decided that she probably wasn't alone. So we started a club that reads literary nonfiction, that is, high-quality writing on interesting issues. The books have all been written within the last 10 years.

How has the club been received by the community? We've had good attendance. It has varied between three and seven each month, which is very good for a brand-new book club with a nonfiction focus.

What are you reading now? We're reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki for our January meeting. The club will get a new facilitator next month. Her name is Ellen Brannigan.

What is this book about? It is autobiographical, about a man whose life's meaning is in making money. The book is going to provoke some interesting discussion.

What have your discussions been like on the three books you've read? Our members like to get to the heart of the books and discuss the ethics and values within each book. One of our best discussions was on the book Firehouse by David Halberstam. The book was a study on the firehouse that lost the most firefighters in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Although the book was very depressing, the discussion centered on the sacrifices of the firefighters and their families. And it was a very uplifting discussion among the members.

What else has your club read? We read Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis and Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman. It is about her experience growing up with a mother who was schizophrenic. The book has nothing to do with Patty Hearst. It just happened at the same time as Hearst's rescue in the early '70s. Once again, it was a depressing book. But the members talked about parenting issues and the importance of paying attention to mental illness.

How does this group differ from other book clubs? The group as a whole has a philosophical bend, but we still laugh a lot. We're making connections with each other through the books we're reading. They're not easy books. You have to sit down to intentionally read them.

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