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Round-Robin Book Selections
16 September 2010


Leota Ester

CALVIN AND HOBBES by Bill Watterson—I read  Calvin and Hobbes many nights when I can't sleep. Watterson found a way to cause us to laugh and admire his drawings of extravagant proportions while commenting on the issues of the day, which turn out to be not  only for yesterday when written, but very aptly, for today as well. We get an insightful view of ourselves, often painful, always funny.      
RATIONAL EMOTIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY by Albert Ellis—A book that causes one to look at oneself in a rational way and  move beyond the emotional trappings of childhood, a book I found very valuable.
IN HIS STEPS by Charles Sheldon—A novel written mid-20t century about a businessman who learns from a tramp, really Christ, how he should run his business.  The impact of the story remained with me as I chose how to run Landmark, The Staffing Resource, even though my views of religion had modified and become broader.

Peter Thiel

THE KILLER ANGELS by Michael Shaara—(Copyright 1974) What impressed me the most about the battles at Gettysburg were not the generals, but one hero, namely, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the consummate soldier, and later becoming a great statesman, and educator of his day.


Mary Poulson

RIVER OF DOUBT by Candace Millard —Teddy  Roosevelt’s hair-raising, life-threatening exploration of a virgin part of the Amazon tributaries. Sheer excitement and TR’s character.

CANNERY ROW (as well as SWEET THURSDAY and TORTILLA FLAT) by John Steinbeck—I’ve immersed myself in his woks since my last Spring’s visit to the JS Museum. Brilliant wordsmith with an understanding of the human condition.

Alan F. Button

Derek Page and Johannes Van den Akker on fibers and their relationship to paper properties as instrumental in my graduate school research and career focus.

JOHN ADAMS by David McCullough—impressed on me just how much one of our key founders risked establishing this American republic; and how interesting well-written history can be.

Jim Baumbach

GENERATIONS: The History of America’s Future 1584 to 2069 by Wm. Strauss & Neil Howe (Published 1991, William Morrow Company, N.Y.)

Updated book of the same type: MILLENNIALS RISING:The Next Great Generation by Wm. Strauss & Neil Howe; 2000 by  Vintage Books, a Division of Random House)

VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY: Photography as a Research Method by John Collier, Jr.           

Scott Valitchka

A HISTORY OF GOD by Karen Armstrong—An instructive review of how humans came to believe in a higher being and how the contemporary views of God and religion evolved.  Provides good perspective on how religious belief has driven human behavior through the centuries.

TO BUILD A FIRE by Jack London—A short story with words that can almost make you feel the peril of extreme cold.

Bill Kelly

THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry—One of the few books I’ve read more than once.


David Debbink

by Robert Pirsig—This book chronicles one man’s search to unify a
world view that includes both the Romantic and the Rational.


Barb Kelly

THE JOY OF COOKING by Rombauer and Becker—Many editions, some controversial.  I have two, and use them both frequently.  Was pleased to find that Joy was the one cookbook that is essential in every public library ready reference collection.


Irene Strohbeen

THE SURVIVORS CLUB: The Secrets and Science that
Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood—Readable, enjoyable
true stories. Last section personalizes information, helps reader identify own survival profile: Inspiring website:


Bob Swain

QU0 VADIS by Henryk Sienkiewicz—Probably the first long
novel I read. A class assignment, I actually calculated the number of
pages I would have to read each day in order to finish it within the allotted
time. Wonder of wonders! An interesting (if not exciting) tale. I couldn't
put it down. Lesson learned: A good book can pull you in and capture your attention.

MATTERHORN by  Karl Mariantes—Current book I just finished, it pulled me in but also disturbed me in ways too complex to describe here. A novel of the Vietnam war. For anyone interested in the futility and idiocy of war, not to mention the horrors of it, this is your read.    
THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER—1721 edition with family history entries. One is dated 1757. Another notes the marriage of John Swain and Elizabeth Barber at Tealby, England, on November 4, 1833. Presiding pastor was George Tennyson. According to Wikipedia, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's father was named George and was pastor of a church in Lincolnshire where Tealby is located. But Alfred's father is said to have died in 1831 so the George who married my great-great-great grandfather may not have been Alfred's father although apparently the Tennyson family, which also lived in various villages and towns in Lincolnshire, was a big one.

In 1983 Marge and I visited Teably. It was dusk and we were wandering around the Church of England cemetery which is perched high on a hill looking west over the Lincolnshire hills. Suddenly Marge called out: "Come here." She found a tombstone bearing the name John Swain but with a date of death in the late 1700s. Must have been the father or more likely grandfather of the John Swain mentioned in my book. 

In 1998 Marge and I toured the Lincolnshire towns again, this time visiting a village named Long Clawson where one of my ancestors also lived. In the church there we found the name Swain on a plaque and also found several references to members of the Tennyson family. 

Ain't tracing roots fun?


Len Weis

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER by Coleridge—This came out in many editions and corrections. A few decades after it was first published Doré prepared wonderful etchings, mostly rather dark in character. The copy I brought was the 1834 edition, the last revision. I have read some of two other editions including some of the version. My copy is a later printing, I believe c.1882.  I chose it for two reasons, the story and the illustrations.


Janet Wullner-Faiss Cloak

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN by Virginia Woolf
SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson
THE SECOND SEX by Simone De Beauvoir
THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO by Boris Pasternak
THE LAST PURITAN by George Santayana
VICTORY by Joseph Conrad
CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART by Wassily Kandinsky        

These are some of the books that I read as many as 58 years ago. Many of them I now reread every few years. Some people can recall plots and information from every book they read. I can’t do that but books that mean the most to me become a part of me. Because they have such personal meaning to me, because they are so much a part of who I am, I find it difficult to even discuss them. I will say a bit about my experience with Wassily Kandinsky’s CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART.    

CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART by Wassily Kandinsky—The edition I have was published by George Wittenborn, Inc., publisher of books on the fine arts and bookstore owner in New York City. I worked in Mr Wittenborn’s unique bookstore in the late ‘50s. There I gained experience beyond measure in the fine arts and became enchanted with Kandinsky and the German Expressionist artists. In October of 1959 the Kandinsky Exhibition at the Grand Opening of the Guggenheim Museum overwhelmed me.
    (“ is necessary for the artist to know the starting point for the exercise of his spirit.The starting point is the study of color and its effects on men.”)

THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE by Diane Ackerman—This is one  of my favorite recently published books.A beauty-filled, terrifyingly true  story of the Nazi invasion of the Warsaw Ghetto and the efforts of the  Zabinskis to save their own famiy, their zoo animals and Resistance  activists and refugee Jews.
(“There is a way of beholding nature that is itself a form of prayer.”)

Jan Mirenda Smith

ART AND VISUAL PERCEPTION:A Psychology of the  Creative Eye by Rudolf Arnheim, c.1974

A WHOLE NEW MIND: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink, c. 2005

CHOP WOOD/CARRY WATER: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life by Rick Fields, PeggyTaylor, Rex Weyler, and Rick Ingrasci

Amy J. Oberg

THE MYSTERY OF CAPITAL:Why Capitalism Triumphs in  the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando De Soto,  2003—The renowned Peruvian economist and adviser to presidents and prime ministers, Hernando de Soto, argues that most places around the globe haven't successfully adopted capitalism and the creation of wealth. Western thinkers have blamed this on everything from these countries' lack of sellable assets to their inherently non-entrepreneurial "mindset." DeSoto argues however that it's not that poor, postcommunist countries don't have the assets to make capitalism flourish; in fact the real problem is that such countries have yet to establish and normalize the invisible network of laws that turns assets from "dead" into "liquid" capital.

An excellent and very informative read.

Bertil Engh

If not life changing, at least biggest impression - The unknown soldier by Väinö Linna.
Author:  V.L. was one of the most influential Finnish authors of the 20th century. The unknown soldier, published 1954 when he was 34 years old, made him known. He participated in the Continuation war as a squad leader. Remarque’s “All quiet on the western front” influenced him.

Summary of story. 
The so called Continuation war, following the winter war of 1939/40 , occurred between  Finland and Sovjetunion during  June 1941 and September 1944. The book has no single central person, but follows a machinegun company through out this war. Finland had an uneasy alliance with Germany during the war. The war was supposed to be easy going with the German help, but with the enormous Soviet war machine, and the very limited German help, it ended in a catastrophic loss of people, structures and land. To use a modern term, the book is action packed, but it is a plain and naked story about the regular soliders. Those who the correspondents called  brave, patriotic and glorious soldiers. However these soldiers themselves dismissed such words with shrugs or a scornful laugh.  They were farm boys or hardy workers who cursed the senseless war, but who stubbornly and reluctantly performed miraculously the tasks that were given them.

What  did the book teach me, or why was I impressed by it?
First, I was way to young when I first read this book.  The books raw, ugly and detailed  description of a war, in a terrain similar to ours at home, never made me glorify war. Rather, it makes you distaste war, without necessarily being a pacifist.
Second, after the war hunger and misery were wide spread in Finland. Sweden was materially untouched but the war. Industry and farming cried for workers, so a great many Finns came to Sweden for work. Some spoke Swedish, but with a heavy accent. As always happens, we only have to look at our own society today, people who don’t fit the pattern, “who hold down wages“, who have different customs, who we don’t understand are viewed with suspicion. I trust and hope that this book influenced me to be more tolerant.

Finally, if time permit’s a short story from the peace talks in Kremlin April 6, 1948.
Despite the fact that I am actually not a real solider myself, said generalississmus Stalin at a separate meeting with the Finnish military delegation present,  I can say that we soldiers are easily forgotten during peace time, but during war everything depends on us.  Nobody respects a country with a lousy army, but one with a good army is respected by all. I raise my glass to the army of Finland and its representatives here

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