Oliver Wolcott Library
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About OWL

Non-Fiction Book Discussion Group


When:  Second Thursday of each month from 2:00 - 3:15 p.m. New members welcome! Come to one or all meetings. Books are available at the front desk.
Where:  The Jamie Gagarin Community Room & Gallery
Facilitated by: Patricia Moore

2018  Selections



December 13 
Musicophilia: Tales of Musica and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. He shows us a variety of musical misalignments: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of 42; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only 7 seconds - for everything but music. Moderated by Margaret


January 10, 2019
Blue Nights by Joan Didion

A work about losing a daughter, this book is textured with bits of Joan Didion’s own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo. She examines her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old. Reflecting on her daughter but also on her role as a parent, Didion asks the candid questions any parent might about how she feels she failed either because cues were not taken or perhaps displaced. Moderated by Jean


February 14
American Heiress... the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin

New Yorker meets Raymond Chandler; this book is hard to put down. The kidnapping of Patty Hearst was one of the most bizarre episodes in recent U.S. history – a tale of high drama and farce, and of personal transformation, the nature of which continues to be the subject of speculation. Toobin brings his legal expertise to examine the trial and the events that led up to it. Moderated by Cindy


March 14
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

The author is a sociologist and ethnographer, and his book shows the world that many poor occupy, as close to hell as you are likely to find in 21st century America. The poor are exploited when trying to rent a place to live; some make wealth off their misery. We ignore how people are hurt by illegal and unethical practices and the lack of any outside control on the actions of landlords. Moderated by Dick




April 11 
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson as a young lawyer founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice defending those most in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of a young man who was sentenced to die for a murder. The case transformed Bryan’s understanding of mercy and justice forever and led to an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. Moderated by Morgan



May 9
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

This is an account of the looming catastrophe caused by ecology's neighbors from hell: mankind. Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy. Moderated by Alan


June 13
2019- 20 Book Selection , and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of 36, completing medical training, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. This book chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, and finally into a patient and father confronting his own mortality. Moderated by Jocelyn



July 11
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

This book provides a harrowing look at life in South Africa under apartheid. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. He was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. This is a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother. Moderated by Mary



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