For November 2012, our Online Book Club discusses Little Princes by Conor Grennan. Each week, we'll put forth different questions to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas. We hope you will participate in the discussion by adding your comments below.
Question for Week 1:
How did Conor Grennan’s decision to volunteer in an orphanage in Kathmandu before spending a year of traveling abroad change his life? What preparation did Conor have to work as an orphanage volunteer? Looking back, was there a time in your life when what you thought was an insignificant decision or act turned out later to make a difference?
Conor felt he needed to justify his self-indulgent decision to spend a year traveling around the world when he left his job working for an international organization. Volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal where he planned to trek to Mt Everest Base Camp was an opportunity to do charitable work at the beginning of the trip. Before volunteering, Conor had no experience with children. After arrival in Kathmandu he was given a week’s training including an orientation to Nepali culture and a home stay with a family in a village outside Kathmandu. Conor's work was "hands-on" and the experience lingered throughout the remainder of his trip and his return to the United States.
Sometimes an insignificant act makes a difference: A month after relocating to a new city, looking for opportunities to make new friends, I filled out a volunteer form for a nonprofit organization, expecting to be called help with fundraising. To my surprise, I was asked to be part of a group training for telephone crisis counseling. The following months of training and probationary volunteer work was one of the most challenging and rewarding periods of my life and led me to volunteer with other nonprofit organizations.
At his recent talk at San Jose State, Conor Grennan urged his listeners to not to question their motives, but to volunteer their time and money to make little changes -- which might lead to great things.
See our Online Book Club page for more information about this book and to preview the next weeks’ questions
The Beach Trees a novel by Karen White
“In the last two months I had gone from being a workaholic at a reputable auction house … to the broke, unemployed guardian of a five year old boy, possessor of a dilapidated minivan, and apparently the owner of a beach house in Biloxi, Mississippi, with the improbable name of River Song.”
Julie and Beau (the five year old) head for the Gulf Coast, only to find River Song a wreck, devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Following up on an address, Julie collects a lost painting by her grandfather and makes connection with the Guidry family in New Orleans. Adeline Guidry, Beau’s grandmother, believes Julie has some of the missing pieces to a family mystery. As Julie overseas the rebuilding of the beach house, Adeline relates the Guidry family history and the significance of River Song in the disappearance of an ancestor during Mardi Gras many years ago. A family saga of betrayal, loss and new beginnings in the aftermath of hurricanes Camille and Katrina.
Sam Kean has a gift for storytelling, especially for taking scientific subjects and crafting them into fascinating narratives that hold your interest. He did this with the elements of the periodic table in The Disappearing Spoon. His latest book, The Violinist’s Thumb, covers genetics and the human genome. Paganini, the renowned violinist was born with an outstanding flexibility in his hands and fingers, a genetic trait giving him not only an advantage as a musician, but also associated health problems contributing to his early death. Kean takes us into the lives of scientists, researchers, and individuals with outstanding genetic features (like Paganini) to discover what is known and not known about the genetic code, its evolutionary development and its role in future medicine.
Conor Grennan author of Little Princes, the San Jose Public Library Online Book Club selection for November, will be speaking at San Jose State University Student Union on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 4:00 PM.
Do you enjoy reading and discussing what you read? If the answer is yes, the Edenvale Book Club is the club for you!
All are welcome to join us in Meeting Room B on the first Wesnesday of each month.
The Edenvale Book Club will meet on the following three Wednesdays from 6:00 - 8:00 PM: October 3, November 7 and December 5, 2012.
October's book selection is The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt available in print format and downloadable eAudiobook format
November's book selection is Seabiscuit: an American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, available in print format and book cd format.
Culture clash between red and blue states is not a recent phenomenon. North America from the beginning of settlement has been a collection of regional cultures at tension with each other. In American Nations, Colin Woodward identifies 11 ‘nations’ in North America (taking in parts of Canada and Mexico as well as the United States), each with its own distinct cultural values based on original colonization or migration. Woodward examines American history in terms of these tension points, explaining coalitions, separation movements in terms of values influencing regional and national politics.