“You’ve got to come to Reading Aloud. It’s really great!” a fellow resident said to me shortly after I moved to The Residences eight years ago. Based on such a strong recommendation, I decided to try it…and, yes, I became hooked. Oh, the books we read! Biographies of international figures such as Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, and Daughters of the Samurai. We read an unusual approach to US history in American Canopy: Trees, Forest, and the Making of a Nation on how trees have shaped American identity.
For several years these books were read to us weekly by a remarkable volunteer. What an education that was, that weekly hour of immersing ourselves in history and biography! Each book might take several months to read through, and yet thee we were, following the fascinating stories as they unfolded over many weeks.
In recent years the residents took on the selection and reading of the books. We are still favoring nonfiction, especially those books with an emphasis on people making passages through their lives with faith and courage. Stimulated by David Brooks’ book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, we found and read additional books that dealt with meeting life’s challenges heroically and selflessly. Among them were:
Right of Passage: The Heroic Journey to Adulthood (suggesting that intensive service to the community be the expectation for growing up in America)
Warriors Don’t Cry (a memoir of the attempt to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School, written by one of the Little Rock Nine)
The Strong Ones: How a Band of Civilian Women Made Their Mark on the Army
Kristine, Finding Home: Norway to America (about an early 20th century immigrant to the United States).
Books like these have expanded our mental horizons and provided much food for thought and discussion. We continue to be on the lookout for stories that will pique our interest, challenge us to think more deeply, and sharpen our moral awareness. What a satisfying adventure!
By the way, we welcome suggestions of engaging books at any time.