Polymath Edward Tufte once remarked that “the point of the essay is to change things”. With The Case for Reparations, scholar and author Ta-Nehisi Coates cleaves close to this ideal. Reminiscent of the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Coates has constructed an argument of tremendous factual and moral clarity, which coaxes our conscience towards conversation, nudging us towards that more perfect union.
To say that the piece resonated with readers after it appeared in The Atlantic is an understatement. Book stores quickly sold out of copies of the magazine. Online, the piece garnered more visits to The Atlantic Website in a single day, than any other article has, ever. I immediately pegged the writing as historically significant, and uber journalist Bill Moyers dubbed the work “a must read for every American”.
If you ask me, however, simply reading The Case for Reparations is selling it short, as Mr. Coates is clearly calling for dialogue. I’d like to think that The Monday Evening Book Group is well-suited for this sort of thing. In that spirit, here’s hoping that you’ll join me in honoring Mr. Coates’ request, when we gather on February 9, 2015 @ 6:30 in the Holden Room. As ever, copies of the work are available at any of the library’s numerous help desks.
October 19, 2015
The Telling Room
Author: Michael Paterniti
Non-Fiction: 349 pages
“The premise sounds far-fetched, even a little silly: While proofreading a deli catalog in Michigan, Michael Paterniti is bewitched by a description of cave-aged Spanish cheese; years later, disillusioned with modern life and his own “computer-soft hands,” he travels to its Spanish back-country source, where he becomes obsessed with its larger-than-life maker and his story of soul-stealing cheese-related betrayal…This transportive culinary memoir will launch a thousand gastronomical pilgrimages.”
“A gorgeous and impassioned monument to the art and mystery of storytelling, The Telling Room is rich, funny, humane, devastating, and beautiful. It made me want to applaud, it made me want to cry, it made me want to move to Spain. Michael Paterniti is a genius.”
November 16, 2015
The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Fiction: 345 pages
“Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom–whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I–begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters and gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans.”
“An extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people, tragic decisions and the beauty found in each of them.”
December 21, 2015
The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel Brown
Non-Fiction: 404 pages
“The astonishing story of the UW’s 1936 eight-oar varsity crew and its rise from obscurity to fame,…The individual stories of these young men are almost as compelling as the rise of the team itself. Brown excels at weaving those stories with the larger narrative, all culminating in the 1936 Olympic Games…A story this breathtaking demands an equally compelling author, and Brown does not disappoint. The narrative rises inexorably, with the final 50 pages blurring by with white-knuckled suspense as these all-American underdogs pull off the unimaginable.”