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 24, 2013 – THE WILD BRAID:  A POET REFLECTS ON A CENTURY IN THE GARDEN by Stanley Kunitz  Discussion Leader, Judson Scruton

Stanley Kunitz, twice named Poet Laureate of the United States, was not only a distinguished poet but also an ardent gardener.  Throughout his long life (1905-2006) he created poetry and tended gardens.  The Wild Braid, published in 2007, reflects conversations that took place between 2002 and 2004.  None have been previously published.  Beginning with the garden, the book explores personal recollections, the creative process, and the life cycle.  Recipient of the 2006 American Horticultural Society Book Award, this book is described in Booklist as “A graceful and moving glimpse into a rare and giving artist’s refined poetics, garden aesthetics, and spirituality.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 –THE GIFT OF RAIN by Tan Twan Eng    Discussion Leader, Melissa Baker Described by The London Times Literary Supplement as “A powerful first novel about a tumultuous and almost forgotten period of history…The Gift of Rain is a war novel with a personal odyssey at its heart, one that complicates the stark lines of right and wrong during wartime…drawing the reader into a web of divided loyalties.”  Set in lush tropical surroundings, the book explores the consequences of love and duty and takes the reader back to the world of Somerset Maugham; but, whereas Maugham viewed this world with cynicism, Tan Twan Eng looks at it with compassion.  Both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly awarded this novel a Starred Review.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 –THE SEA WOLF by Jack London   Discussion Leader, Ray Rauth

  This psychological adventure novel was first published in 1904.  The protagonist, an intellectual literary critic named Humphrey van Weyden, survives an ocean collision and is rescued by Wolf Larsen, the powerful sea captain of a seal hunting schooner.  Larsen has been described as a sociopath with exceptional physical strength and intelligence.  Through being exposed to cruelty and brutality as a captive on Wolf Larsen’s ship, Van Weyden is forced to become tough and self-reliant.  London is said to have been attacking Nietzche’s “superman” philosophy in writing this book.  (Interestingly, Jack London was called “Wolf” by close friends and used a picture of a wolf on his bookplate.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 – A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith   Discussion Leader, Karen Tatarka

  Featured by the New York Public Library as “One of the books of the Century,”  this novel remains a beloved classic half a century after it was first published.  Francie Nolan, the protagonist, is a young girl growing up in a poor but loving family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the first half of the twentieth century.   As the novel tells the story of her childhood, it communicates the universality of all childhood dreams.  Its happy ending illustrates triumph over a bad childhood.  The New York Times states that it is “A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one.  It cuts right to the heart of life…If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 – THE GUNS OF AUGUST by Barbara W. Tuchman   Discussion Leader, David Ostergren

   August, 2014, marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I.  This Pulitzer Prize-winning classic dealing with the first month of the war is considered one of the finest works of history written by an American in the 20th Century.  In writing this book, Barbara Tuchman, according to The Christian Science Monitor has “…improved upon her predecessors in illuminating practically inch by inch, the roads by which the fateful decisions were reached in Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, and London and by transforming the drama’s protagonists as well as its immense supporting cast, from half-legendary and half-shadowy figures into full-dimensional, believable persons.”

 Tuesday, March 25, 2014 – HEART OF DARKNESS AND OTHER TALES by Joseph Conrad

 

  Discussion Leader, Charles Safford

 Heart of Darkness was first published in 1899 as a three-part serial in Blackwood’s Magazine.  Since that time the novel has been variously published and translated into many languages and in 1998 was rated by Modern Library as one of the hundred best novels of the 20th Century.  Considered the finest of Conrad’s novels, it is set in an atmosphere of mystery and menace.  Both an adventure story and a study of the corruption that comes from the exercise of tyrannical power, the novel explores the relationship between civilization and savagery.  The other three tales in this volume, set in exotic locations, explore and appraise the different aspects of imperial adventure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 –STONER by John Williams   Discussion Leader, Miwako Ogasawara

 The New York Times Book Review describes this novel as “…something rarer than a great novel-it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving, that it takes your breath away.”  First published in 1965, it is the story of William Stoner a young man from a hardscrabble farm who is sent by his father to the University of Missouri to study agriculture.  Stoner is captivated by literature and the life of the mind and eventually becomes a master teacher.  He marries a St. Louis beauty and has a daughter.  He loves his daughter deeply and struggles to be a good husband.   Sadly, however, over time his life is made miserable by his wife’s personal war against him and by the actions of vindictive colleagues.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 –FIRST LADY OF THE CONFEDERACY – VARINA DAVIS’S CIVIL WAR by Joan Cashin   Discussion Leader, Barbara Jones

In this biography, Joan Cashin, an historian, has accessed a great deal of material pertaining to Varina Davis that has never before appeared in print.  As the wife of Jefferson Davis, she was referred to as “First Lady” of the Confederacy.  However, her loyalties were conflicted and she was criticized in print for her doubts about the Confederacy’s ability to win the war.  Although loving, her marriage to Jefferson Davis was tumultuous.  She was a complex woman, highly educated, considered by her peers as one of the great conversationalists of her time.  In a long and complicated life she went from her birth in antebellum Natchez, Mississippi, in 1826, to her death in urban New York City in 1906.