Senior Center Book Discussions — Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897 Tel: 203-762-3950

Senior Center Book Discussions

All adult Wilton residents are welcome to join this free book discussion group which meets at the Comstock Community Center from September through May. An optional lunch following the discussion is $3. Extra copies of each title will be available at the Wilton Library in the month the book is to be discussed. Please call the Senior Center at 834-6240 to reserve a place for lunch.

Click Here for Past Senior Center Selections

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 – BRIGHT WINGS: AN ILLUSTRATED ANTHOLOGY ABOUT BIRDS Edited by Billy Collins   Discussion Leader, Judson ScrutonBilly Collins, editor of this charming little book, states in the introduction:   “A subject such as birds may have been covered extensively as possible in prose, but that does not mean, as with any topic of human interest, that there is nothing left to say.  Indeed, the genre of poetry makes its true appearance along the line of verbal expression where the possibilities of prose have been exhausted.”  BRIGHT WINGS, through its combination of poetry and lovely illustrations, demonstrates this point.   As described in the Minneapolis Star Tribune it is “An intelligent assembly of poems that take us places where prose cannot go…. This little book is a reminder that everything important about birds can’t be found in guide books or scientific papers.”
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – YES, CHEF by Marcus Samuelsson with Veronica Chambers   Discussion Leader, Melissa Baker 

This book is best described by the following passage from the cover of the paperback edition:  “Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken dinner.  The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic.  The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson.  This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.”    Red Rooster, his restaurant in Harlem, is described as “…a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents rub elbows …with bus drivers.”  Former President Bill Clinton, a patron of the restaurant, states “Red Roosters’s arrival in Harlem brought with it a chef who has reinvigorated and reimagined what it means to be an American.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 –  ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT by Erich Maria Remarque   Discussion Leader, Ray Rauth

As we in 2014 observe the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I, this classic novel of WWI, written from the German perspective, demands to be read.  The book does not focus on the heroic stories of war but gives a view of the conditions in which the soldiers find themselves and which they must endure.  The author, whose real name was Erich Paul Remark, was conscripted into the German Army at age 18 and in June of 1917 sent to the Western Front.  As Remarque states at the beginning of the book, ”This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it.  It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by war.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 – THE SPIRIT LEVEL by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett   Discussion Leader, Richard Duffee

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, states in a Foreword to this complex book, “Most American families are worse off today than they were three decades ago….This rapid trend towards inequality in America marks a significant reversal of the move toward income equality that began in the early part of the twentieth century and culminated during the middle decades of the century.”  The coauthors of this groundbreaking work, based on years of research, provide hard evidence for their conclusions.   Publisher’s Weekly in giving this complex book  a Starred Review states, “Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation’s  richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society.”  Both Wilkinson and Pickett are British academics.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 – THE MAN HE BECAME: HOW FDR DEFIED POLIO TO WIN THE PRESIDENCY by James Tobin   Discussion Leader, David Ostergren

In this thoughtful and moving book, James Tobin tells the story of how polio changed Franklin Roosevelt and made him the extraordinary person and president he became.  Through a careful examination of original documents involving Roosevelt’s case, Tobin relates what happened to the thirty-nine year old Roosevelt in the summer of l921.    As he relays Roosevelt’s case, he also examines the polio virus itself and how it affects its victims.  He dispels the notion that Roosevelt deceived the public about his condition and tells the story of how Roosevelt, despite great opposition from Eleanor and others, purchased the run-down resort of Warm Springs and made it into a haven for those afflicted with paralysis.   When Roosevelt said “…the only thing Americans had to fear was fear itself’ he was drawing on his own experience.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – PERSUASION by Jane Austen    Discussion Leader, Elaine Tai-Lauria

This elegant novel is best described by Susan Ostrov Weisser in the Introduction to the Barnes & Nobel Classics 2005 edition as follows:  “Just as Jane Austen is the favorite author of many discerning readers, Persuasion is the most highly esteemed novel of many Austenites.  It has the deep irony, the scathing wit, the droll and finely drawn characters of Austen’s other novels, all attributes beloved of her readers.  But it is conventionally said that as her last novel, the novel of her middle age, it additionally has a greater maturity and wisdom than the ‘light, bright and sparkling’ earlier novels, to use Austen’s own famous description of Pride and Prejudice, her most popular work.   In other words, Persuasion has often been seen as the thinking reader’s Pride and Prejudice.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 – EFFI BRIEST by Theodor Fontane   Discussion Leader, Miwako Ogasawara

When this complex novel, translated from the German, was first published as a book in 1895 it was its seventy-five-year- old author’s first real literary success.  Theodore Fontane based the story on a scandal he had heard of from a friend in 1888 or 1889 and Effie Briest, as a literary character, has been compared to Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina.  But more than a story of adultery, it captures a world on the eve of its dissolution.  In the Introduction to the novel Fontane’s writing is compared with that of Jane Austen in that it works through “glimpses and allusions” with a limited circle of characters whom we meet in small groups.  Thomas Mann is reported to have said in 1919 that Effie Briest belonged among the six most significant novels ever written.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 – HOW IT ALL BEGAN by Penelope Lively   Discussion Leader, Barbara Jones

This delightful novel by Booker-Prize-winning author Penelope Lively begins surprisingly with the mugging of an elderly woman on a London street.  What follows is a richly conceived story involving the parallel lives of different characters.  The characters themselves are unaware of how their lives become connected simply through the randomness of life.  To quote The New York Times, “As she’s done in so many earlier books, Ms. Lively writes with an astringent blend of sympathy and detachment, emotional wisdom and satiric wit, and the result, here, is a Chekhovian tale that’s entertaining, even funny on the surface, but ultimately melancholy in its awareness of time and lost opportunities….” Honored for her contributions to British literature, Penelope Lively became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2012.