Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Changing Lives - One Book At a Time

The following is an update on my friend Nora's Book Club for Parolees

Friday, January 1

What a year its been for reading! The Book Club for Parolees in Inglewood, California emerged in May 2009. I had a group of eager men wanting to become a part of my vision. And I had the support from you to make that vision happen for them.

The men have read and discussed The Soloist (S. Lopez), The Four Agreements (don Miguel Ruiz), Always Running: Gang Days in Los Angeles (L. Rodriguez), A Lesson Before Dying (E. Gaines), Beautiful Boy (D. Sheff) and Tuesdays with Morrie (M. Albom).

The participants held a dynamic and interesting discussion this past Wednesday night. The 18 men had finished reading Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson. Discussions involved the role of mentors in our lives; not fearing death; dying with dignity; traditions/rituals; and treasuring the moment.

This month's book was entirely donated by Meredith. It was such a treat to kick back and listen to the guys discussing the book back and forth for two hours. I had the pleasure of re-reading the book, and mostly listened to the discussion (with an occasional comment). The guys look to me mostly for acknowledgement or approval as they speak. I remember the first time I read this book, I was writing a term paper on death and dying (around 1999). As I searched for books in the library I came across Tuesdays with Morrie. I recognized the title, since it had been on the best seller list. In my usual style of procrastination ... I sat in the library that night and devoured the book, while leaving the term paper for another day. I was so moved by the intimate moments shared between Morrie and Mitch, and reflecting on the role of mentors in my life. What a gift it was to bring this book to the Book Club for Parolee participants.

I provided the guys a list of three books (and synopsis) to choose from for January and February. I gratefully received book inputs from friends and family that evening. The book selected for January is Blind Side, Michael Lewis (which was recently made into a movie). I have yet to see the movie (and might have to go by myself, since some folks seem to be having a problem with seeing Sandra Bullock on the screen!) ... my mother said it was an excellent movie, but it was my younger brother who read the book and recommended it for reading. The book for February will be Life of Pi (Yann Martell). A book suggested by Rachel, which I have read ... oh, back around 2004 or so. What a memorable book ... I clearly remember reflecting on my spiritual struggle, as Pi was doing the same out at sea. I am looking forward to book club discussions to gain new insight into the complex layers of this incredible story. (and to read the book again myself)

I am so grateful and humbled by the Book Club's support from my family and friends. This truly has been a magical project for me.


This was added after a request for donations for January and February, which I didn't get posted in time :(

You did it! Thanks everyone. I am once again humbled by your generosity. Your support arrives in many ways, and keeps the fuel fired under me. Blind Side's book order is complete for the month of January's Book Club for Parolees. My 20 guys will begin reading the new book on Wednesday.

It looks like we'll be good for a few months. And then we can start using books read from last year again for the Book Club (since I have a whole new group of men).

Remember, if you live in the Los Angeles area ... you can come join our Book Club any Wednesday night.

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