Suggest a Book for Greenwich Reads Together 2014

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Greenwich Reads Together is a community-wide reading experience which will engage all of Greenwich in exploring a single book. What do you think we should read next? Suggest a book by commenting on this article below. Greenwich Reads Together 2014 will take place this Fall.

In order to be selected, the book should be of high literary quality, reflective of universal issues and capable of generating thought-provoking discussions. It should lend itself to engaging public programs and appeal to a diverse population. It must also be currently in print and available in large quantities and in multiple formats, including paperback, ebook, audiobook and large print. The suggestions will be evaluated by a committee that includes Library staff and community members. The chosen book will be announced later this spring. 

For more information about Greenwich Reads Together, please click here.

Important note: we are experiencing an issue when patrons attempt to register their name/ email to make a comment, so for now, we will allow comments to be posted anonymously, but feel free to sign your name in the comment field if you wish. 

If you are not able to post your suggestion, please contact the Public Relations Office and we will post it for you.


In light of bullying in our town schools and the money over manners culture too often observed in town, I would recommend Give and Take by Adam M Grant combined with Wonder by RJ Palacio.

The book is The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. It is nonfiction, the riveting and dramatic story about how the crew from the University of Washington won the gold medal in the infamous 1936 Olympics. It is much more than a sports book. The author beautifully weaves three main themes- the impoverished background of most of the crew members and the role that played in their hunger for success, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, particularly as it related to the Olympics, and, of course, building the crew and describing the competitions through the Olympic Games. Implicit in the crew's success and an important theme of the book is the importance of teamwork. There is also a beautiful love story thrown in for good measure.
I believe this is a book that can be enjoyed by the community broadly, probably down to the junior high level. I know that I couldn't put it down.
Sincerely yours,
Arthur Wichman

Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb
Recommendation for Greenwich Reads Together

A Dust Bowl novel of high literary quality with a compelling backstory.

This long-hidden novel tells an intimate story of OK farmers who fled drought, dust storms, and foreclosures during the Great Depression. The author, born in OK, writes with empathy for the farmers from her own first-hand experiences. While helping to set up the FSA government camps in California, she began writing her novel and shared some of her field notes with Steinbeck through Tom Collins, the director of the camps.

When Grapes of Wrath came out first, Random House (Bennett Cerf) canceled her contract after bringing her to NY to finish the novel, and it went in a drawer for 60 years. It was finally published in 2004, just before the author died, and was greeted with praise and appreciation.

“. . . rights a decades-old literary wrong.” – Salt Lake Tribune

“. . .[a] forgotten masterpiece . . .brings an insider’s knowledge and immediacy to this authentically compelling narrative. A slightly less political, more female-oriented, companion piece to The Grapes of Wrath.”—Booklist

“Babb puts a human face on the “Okies” and others who faced economic and social disaster, yet managed to retain their humanness, faith, and inner dignity. Is it better than The Grapes of Wrath? I think so, but you be the judge.”—Tulsa World

“As vibrant and timely today as when it was begun in the migrant camps of California. –Douglas Wixson, author of Worker-Writer in America

“. . . Babb is a skillful artist who identified wholeheartedly with the ordeal of the dispossessed during the 1930s. The recovery of her novel is a miraculous gift that will play an important part in future reconsiderations of mid-century U.S. literature.”—Alan Wald, author of Exiles from a Future Time

Suggestions collected by Greenwich Public Schools:

Last year I read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and fell in love with its whimsical yet serious tone. It explores relationships and loss with an incomparable innocence. The novel is told from a dog's perspective, which is perhaps the most endearing quality of the book. I believe it would be loved by all, dog lovers or not. Another reason I think this would make a great addition to Greenwich Reads Together is because of the special adaptation for young people that accompanies this book (Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein). This offers a unique component, inviting both adults and young children of Greenwich to immerse themselves in conversations surrounding this book.
- Meghan Gardner (5th grade teacher, North Mianus School)

I would like to suggest A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. It is a powerfully written story about a young African-American man who teaches in the rural south in the middle of the 20th century. Themes touched on are numerous: from unequal education, de facto social class system, the status of the family, urban migration, emotional repression, human pride, respect, duty, and willingness to learn. There are probably several more. The book is relatively short and does not demand highly developed reading skills, yet it is beautifully written. It deserves consideration. Thanks for letting me give some input.
- Susan Mulvey Rattray (former GHS English teacher)

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai - We believe Yousafzai's autobiography would make an excellent selection for GRT. Yousafzai's story has already generated great discussion about women's rights, foreign policy in the Middle East, and the power of individuals to create change within their communities. Her prominence as a public figure would help this book generate interest among a diverse population. Engaging public programs could clearly be generated based on this work, given the wide range of topics listed above that it touches upon.
- Cover to Cover (GHS Student Book Club)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - We are also convinced that this work would serve wonderfully as a GRT selection. Half the Sky is certainly of high literary quality, being authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning writers. Additionally, Half the Sky reflects the universal issues of womens' oppression across the globe, as well as global poverty (which the authors suggest could be countered by liberating women to participate in the economy). This work lends itself especially well to public programs, given the fact that (to our knowledge) the two authors live in this area. This might potentially allow for the organization of a Q & A session with Kristof and WuDunn.
- Cover to Cover (GHS Student Book Club)

The Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling; Of all of our Cover to Cover reads, this work would seem to lend itself best to a GRT selection. This work touches on important themes related to some individuals' voyeuristic obsession with celebrity culture, racism, drug abuse, and our beauty ideals for women. Thus, it could generate some very thought-provoking discussion and reflects universal issues. The "hard-boiled mystery" attribute of this work could certainly lend to engaging public programming, perhaps related to comparing this work with the works of authors such as Dashiell Hammett.
- Cover to Cover (GHS Student Book Club)

Two ideas:

~THINKING IN PICTURES: AND OTHER REPORTS FROM MY LIFE WITH AUTISM by Temple Grandin. An inspiring memoir that's more timely than ever. To complement this, a good choice for young readers is TEMPLE GRANDIN: HOW THE GIRL WHO LOVED COWS EMBRACED AUTISM AND CHANGED THE WORLD by Sy Montgomery (with an introduction by Temple Grandin herself). In addition, several excellent middle grade novels touch on this subject, including THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY by Siobhan Dowd, RULES by Cynthia Lord, and MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine (to name just a few).


Submitted by Ellie:

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Twelve Years a Slave is the autobiographical account of Solomon Northup, an African American who was born free in New York in the early 1800s.

In 1841, Solomon Northup was captured and forced into slavery for a period of twelve years. Northup's account is detailed in its account of life on a cotton and sugar plantation and the daily routine of slave life during the first part of the 19th century.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
The story depicts the struggles of African Americans as seen through the eyes of the narrator, a woman named Jane Pittman. She tells of the major events of her life from the time she was a young slave girl in the American South at the end of the Civil War.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids (referred to as "the help"), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.

Suggested by Maura O'Connor:
Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline.

Suggested by Diane Garrett of Diane's Books:
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
A DUAL INHERITANCE by Joanna Hershon
MARGOT by Jillian Cantor
AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A FIERCE RADIANCE by Lauren Belfer
WHITE DOG FELL FROM THE SKY by Eleanor Lincoln Morse

Submitted by Angela Foote:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I’d like to suggest The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It would lend itself to many and varied discussions—on one level it’s a really good read, beautiful writing, about a group of college students (a fictional, elite college in northern New England) who commit a murder. The murder happens in the first pages of the book, and the story is about how the students go about their lives after the murder, told through the eyes of a student who gradually becomes aware of this secret, and what happens to them all as a consequence of the murder. It’s a terrific suspense story, and also a tale of loyalty, friendship, responsibility, privilege, morality—great material for discussion. Maybe it could bring Donna Tartt to participate in Greenwich Reads Together?

My suggestion is The Madonnas of Leningrad, a fictional account of saving the art of the Hermitage during the siege of Leningrad during WWII. Also deals with people living in the basement of the Hermitage during the siege. It fits in nicely with all that's being written, and the film, about the Monuments Men. It's a very moving story and an easy read. Brings in art, which is something we haven't dealt with much. Even auction houses and museums as they try to figure out if they can sell/keep the art they've procured since the war. Lots of material available, I'm sure.

I'd also like to propose a book about the Lost Boys of Sudan: What is the What? is a great book but too long. I haven't had time to look for another on the subject but there is a wonderful film called Duk County, about a clinic one of the lost boys started back in Sudan. Their story is a story of courage, friendship and survival and a reality check for those of us who have never experienced war on our own land. Maybe someone on the staff or on the Selection Committee will know of another book on the subject. There is a lost boys foundation that I'm sure could supply speakers.

Submitted by Gail Wilson

I'd like to suggest The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

I recommend Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline for a Greenwich Reads title. The book is based on the true history of thousands of orphaned children shipped to the Midwest in the early 1900s.

I read the NPR interview with the author and think she would be a good visiting author, the material is historical and the book will appeal to adolescents and adults.

Submitted by Judy Berg

Submitted by Mimi Clement via Greenwich Library's Facebook page:
The Ha-Ha by Dave King

Submitted via the Suggestion Box at Greenwich Library:
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Some suggestions:
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

A great book for Greenwich Reads is FOUR FISH The Future of Our Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg, a Greenwich native who now resides in NYC. Paul grew up along the Byram River, an experience which led him to be a lifelong angler. Our ponds, streams and the Sound were his playground. He describes the natural history and current plight of our four favorite eating fish; the Salmon, Tuna, Cod and Bass. It is a well written, often humorous nonfiction read. Armchair traveling at it's best which covers natural, Sustainability, economic, cultural, geopolitical, culinary and sporting issues surrounding the alarming disappearance of our ocean life. Everyone who eats and/or cares about our oceans would gain from reading this book. The town of Greenwich is doing something to address the problems he raises with our model Mianus Fishway - a nice tie-in and field trip. This book hits local, regional and global levels and would spark fascinating and important discussions we need to be having. . . . soon.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by long time Greenwich resident M.J. Rose
The book has themes of love and loss and family and Tibetan struggles and the question of faith without being religions. It got a starred PW, and Library Journal starred review and was an indie next pick and raves across the board.

With the Ukraine in the news, a little boy growing up in the Ukraine takes on renewed significance. Will people suffer now as they did back then? Will politicians grab land and people's possessions as Stalin did?

A Red Boyhood: Growing Up Under Stalin by Anatole Konstantine should be required reading in every high school civics class. It creates appreciation for our privileged life and liberties.

Anatole thought that our "Oakies" were rich because they had the family car to drive out of the dust bowl; his family walked from the Ukraine to Poland.

Anatole's story ends happily and he lives near us in Connecticut.

For GreenwichReads 2014, I am proposing Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of a Nation by Andrea Wulf. This is a terrifically written and well-researched study of how Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and George Washington were all dedicated to building the original American government after the Revolutionary War while remaining true to their much-loved avocation as gardeners. Wulf weaves a fascinating story of that key chapter of American history into the gardening exploits of these founders of the American government. Greenwich groups of all ages interested in gardening, history, civics, government and other topics could easily discuss this book.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder is a wonderful candidate for Greenwich reads. In this nonfiction account, Tracy Kidder documents the life of Dr. Paul Farmer and his mission to cure Haiti of its TB epidemic. Paul Farmer strives to make the world a better place, believing that "the only real nation is humanity." This book has also been adapted for young people (middle school level).

The Other Wes Moore chronicles the lives of two men, both named Wes Moore. Both grew up under similar circumstances, yet one becomes a Rhodes Scholar, serves in the military, and is named one of Time magazine's best in business. The other ends up in jail. This story touches on themes of perseverance and the implications of each and every action. This book has also been adapted for young people, titled Discovering Wes Moore.

I would like to recommend Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations, by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky for consideration by the committee . This nonfiction book concerns a particularly gruff and demanding music teacher from Ukraine, whose intimidated students in suburban New Jersey paradoxically come to venerate him for what he reveals to them about their own abilities. I found it inspirational and moving, and the book made me reflect at length on my own engagement with music. I think non music lovers will entertain similar thoughts about their own passions, and also come to care deeply for the characters. Co-author Joanne Lipman spoke at the Library in February.

No matter how much I keep telling myself "everyone's already read it" or "predictable suggestion", I keep coming back to George Orwell's 1984; with all the revelations of government spying and other chicanery within the past year alone, this book feels more relevant than ever, sadly.

On a somewhat more positive, world-view-expanding and adventurous note, I'm sure Neal Stephenson's Anathem would give us all plenty to talk about.

Another suggestion: The Good Lord Bird.

In the case of a non-fiction consideration, I would like to propose: Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East.

For a fiction consideration, Doctor Sleep (why? read Margaret Atwood's New York Times review of it here).

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This page contains a single entry by Kate published on March 26, 2014 3:27 PM.

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