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Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue Day [b:1280722|Born on a Blue Day: Inside The Extraordinary Mind Of An Autistic Savant :A Memoir], by Daniel Tammet.

Born On A Blue Day is a journey into one of the most fascinating minds alive today -- guided by the owner himself. Daniel Tammet is virtually unique among people who have severe autistic disorders in that he is capable of living a fully independent life and able to explain what is happening inside his head.

He sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. He has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him the most unimaginable mental powers, much like those portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film [b:1220791|Rain Man].

Fascinating and inspiring, Born on a Blue Day explores what it' s like to be special and gives us an insight into what makes us all human -- our minds.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

A Man Without Words

Man Without Words [b:1393128|A Man Without Words], by Susan Schaller.

For more than a quarter of a century, Ildefonso, a Mexican Indian, lived in total isolation, set apart from the rest of the world. He wasn't a political prisoner or a social recluse, he was simply born deaf and had never been taught even the most basic language.

Susan Schaller, then a twenty-four-year-old graduate student, encountered him in a class for the deaf where she had been sent as an interpreter and where he sat isolated, since he knew no sign language. She found him obviously intelligent and sharply observant but unable to communicate, and she felt compelled to bring him to a comprehension of words.

A Man without Words vividly conveys the challenge, the frustrations, and the exhilaration of opening the mind of a congenitally deaf person to the concept of language.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language

Lost in Translation [b:1393129|Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language], by Eve Hoffman.

A classically American chronicle of upward mobility and assimilation, Lost In Translation is also an incisive meditation on coming to terms with one’s own uniqueness, on learning how deeply culture affects the mind and body, and finally, on what it means to accomplish a translation of one’s self.

When her parents brought her from the war-ravaged, faded elegance of her native Cracow in 1959 to settle in well-manicured, suburban Vancouver, Eva Hoffman was thirteen years old. Entering into adolescence, she endured the painful pull of nostalgia and struggled to express herself in a strange, unyielding new language.

Her spiritual and intellectual odyssey continued in college and led her ultimately to New York’s literary world, yet still she felt caught between two languages, two cultures. But, her perspective also made her a keen observer of an America in the flux of change.

What did you think of this book? Tell us!

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AADL Productions Podcast: Richard Glaubman

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This episode features 2011's [a:aareads.aadl.org|Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads] author, [http://www.richardglaubman.com/|Richard Glaubman]. Richard spoke with us about his collaboration with [a:George Dawson] on [b:1167847|Life is So Good], a chronicle of Dawson's inspired personal journey through the tumultuous 20th century, culminating in his learning to read at the age of 98. Richard talks about his experience developing the book's narrative structure and George's voice, as well as his personal friendship with George and the irresistible effect of his optimism and quiet humanity on everyone he encountered. You can also watch or download [http://www.aadl.org/video/view/9505|a video of Glaubman's presentation] when he visited in January.

Attachment Size AADL_Productions_Podcast-Richard_Glaubman 35 MB

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Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads Event: Literacy Learners Share Their Stories

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Tuesday February 15, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The 2011 Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads 2011 book [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1167847|Life Is So Good] is the story of George Dawson, a man who learned to read at age 98. Dawson's story of becoming literate at a late age is truly inspirational. What are the learning stories of local residents - and what are their successes?

Be inspired as a panel of local literacy learners share their experiences. Discover how you can engage in learning that makes life worth living as a [http://www.literacydirectory.org/|learner] or [http://www.lcwconline.org/find-help-volunteer/rotary-lifelong-literacy|volunteer]. This event is co-sponsored by the [http://www.lcwconline.org/|Literacy Coalition of Washtenaw County].

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Roger Chard: A Self-Determined Life

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Roger Chard is totally blind. He recently retired from a twenty-two year career as a real estate attorney in Ann Arbor. Among his many achievements are awards in high school and college debate and in downhill skiing. He has performed as a baritone vocal soloist and presented recitals with other musicians in small and large venues. He will speak on how self-determination helped him create a life worth living. This amply reflects the theme of the [http://www.aareads.org/|Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2011], depicted in the book [b:1167847|Life is So Good] by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman.

Wed., January 26 | Malletts Creek Branch | 2:00-3:30 pm

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Dance Through Life: Nia Dance Playshop

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Teresa Myers of [http://www.soulfulmovement.com/|Soul to Sole] presents a Nia Dance Playshop this Sunday, January 23 at 2 pm at the Traverwood Branch. Why is this a "playshop" and not a "workshop," you ask? Because Nia is all about fun! By focusing on improvisation and the body's natural motions, Nia helps people rediscover the pure joy of movement. Dance makes life worth living! Grade 9-Adult.

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What Book Would You Have Chosen For the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads?

[img_assist|nid=36962|title=Life Is So Good|desc=Life is so good|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=148]The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads screening committee reviewed many books before deciding on the official selection of [b:1167847|'Life is So Good.'] What book would you have chosen to embody the theme "What Makes Life Worth Living?"

Leave a comment on the wall of our [http://www.facebook.com/aadl.org#!/pages/Ann-ArborYpsilanti-Reads/17154…|AA/Y Reads Facebook page] and let us know your pick!

Selected Bibliography

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti 2011 Theme: What makes life worth living?
It did not seem like a challenging theme, in fact, it seemed easy! However, the screening committee discovered, that in fact, to pick three books on this topic was very challenging. There were the usual guidelines that had to be considered (see book selection); and all ‘self-help’ and ‘spiritual’ type books were immediately dismissed to avoid any idea of proselytism. Each one of us holds a special view on ‘what makes life worth living’ – love, relationships, family, survival, good books, good food, and even, death.

Below is a list of the books (excluding the three suggested to the selection committee) that were read, or suggested, to consider for the 2011 Reads.
Reviews and/or summaries have been taken from a variety of sources, (Amazon, Ann Arbor District Library catalog, Barnes and Noble, NYT, Publishers Weekly, and San Francisco Chronicle).

Adventure
Freedom

Art
The Immigrant Story

Daily Living
Inspirational

Death
Memoir

Fiction
Short Stories/Novella

Food
Survival

Virtues and Morals: Exuberance, Kindness, Happiness, Humor

Adventure
Davidson, Robyn. Tracks. Harper Perennial, 1989. ISBN: 06797582429
  Robyn Davidson walks 1,700 miles across the Australian desert accompanied by four camels.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia. Viking, 2006. ISBN: 0143118420
  Gilbert’s travels and adventures to three different countries after a bitter divorce.

Rodriguez, Deborah and Ohlson, Kristin. The Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil. Random House, 2007. ISBN: 1400065593
  Rodriguez's account tells the story of one Michigan woman's quest to help women in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban the best way she knows how: by opening a beauty school.

Thayer, Helen. Walking the Gobi: A 1,600 -mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair. Mountaineer Books, 2007. ISBN: 159485064
  Thayer (age 64 at the time) and her husband, (age 73) trek across the desert and tell the story of the people, the history and the flora and fauna of the Gobi.

Vollers, Maryanne and Nielsen, Jerri. Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole. Hyperion Books, 2007. ISBN: 0786866845
  The story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen’s year at the pole where she was the lone doctor for 41 research scientists and their support group. Ice Bound is not only the story of how Dr. Nielsen discovers her tumor and medical crisis, but it also is the story of the how the “Polies” live together, the conditions, and the beauty of the South Pole during the winter.
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Art
Hirsch, Edward. The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration. Harcourt, 2002. ISBN: 0151005389
  What is the ineffable force that drives artists, writers, and musicians to create? Poet and critic Edward Hirsch (How to Read a Poem) looks for answers in this book, an erudite exploration of the creative process.

Kimmelman, Michael. The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa. Penguin Press, 2001. ISBN: 1594200556.
  As chief art critic for the New York Times, Kimmelman has developed a relaxed and welcoming approach to explicating art that makes this aptly unpredictable consideration of the role accidents and serendipity play in the making of art as pleasurable as it is enlightening. Kimmelman is interested in "how art transforms lives," and in how a life lived artistically can itself be seen as a masterpiece, and the examples he cites open up many new vistas of thought.
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Daily Living
Krouse Rosenthal, Amy. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Three Rivers Press, 2005. ISBN: 978-1400080465
  Rosenthal likes lists: of low points in her life, codes that people memorize, sounds that seem loud though they're actually quiet.
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Death
Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. Vintage, 2007. ISBN: 978-1400078431
  A memoir of Didion’s grief over the loss of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne.

Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Bantam Books, 1981. ISBN: 0553210351
  The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?
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Fiction
Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. One Amazing Thing. Hyperion, 2010. ISBN: 9781401340995
  A group of nine diverse people are trapped in the basement of an Indian consulate in an unidentified American city after an earthquake.

Gamble, Terry. Good Family: A Novel. Harper Perennial, 2006. ISBN: 0060737956
  Family relationships.

Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. Algonquin Books of Chapel, 2006. ISBN: 9781565125605
  If you ever wanted to join the circus, here is your chance.

Hantover, Jeffrey. The Jewel Trader of Pegu. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. ISBN: 9780061252716
  Jewish jewel trader Abraham, a widower at 28, leaves Venice in 1598 for Pegu, a Burmese kingdom halfway around the world, where he is to settle and acquire high-quality gems for the family business. ... He evokes the lush setting and gives clear voice to Abraham's doubts, fears and passions.

Li, Yiyun. The Vagrants. Random House Publishing, 2009. ISBN: 9780812973341
  Yiyun Li weaves together the lives of unforgettable characters that are forced to make moral choices, and choices for survival, in China in the late 1970s. 

Messer, Susan. Grand River and Joy. University of Michigan Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780472116997
  Grand River and Joy, named after a landmark intersection in Detroit. This is a story about the intersections between races, classes and religions exploding in the long, hot summers of Detroit in the 1960s.

Shaffer, Mary Ann. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Random House Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9780440337973
  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society no ordinary book club. Rather, it was formed as a ruse and became a way for people to get together without raising the suspicions of Guernsey's Nazi occupiers. Written in the form of letters (a lost art), this novel by an aunt-and-niece team has loads of charm, especially as long as Juliet is still in London corresponding with the society members.

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. Penguin Group, 2009. ISBN: 9780399155345
  Set in Stockett's native Jackson, MS, in the early 1960s, this first novel adopts the complicated theme of blacks and whites living in a segregated South.

Tyler, Anne. Noah’s Compass. Random House Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 9780345516596
  A story about a schoolteacher who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

Zaslow, Jeffrey. The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship. Gotham, 2009. ISBN: 978-1592404452
  This is the story of eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa and who built an extraordinary friendship.
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Food
Bourdain, Anthony. A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal. HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 9780060012786
  Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?" Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.

Bullock-Prado, Gesine. My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting over, One Cake at a Time. Broadway. Crown Publishing Group, 2010. ISBN: 978-0767932738
  Bullock-Prado’s (sister of actress Sandra Bullock) memoir follows one day in a busy baker's life, from waking at three a.m. to prepare the batter (croissants, scones, sticky buns) and bake before opening shop at seven; through the hectic lunch (focaccia); and the three p.m. tea time.

Powell, Julie. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. ISBN: 978-0316042512
  Before the movie, there was a book! Powell became an Internet celebrity with her 2004 blog chronicling her yearlong odyssey of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Ziegelman, Jane. 97 Orchard Street: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. Smithsonian Institution, 2010. ISBN: 9780061288500
  Jane Ziegelman explores the culinary life that was the heart and soul of New York's Lower East Side around the turn of the twentieth century—a city within a city, where Germans, Irish, Italians, and Eastern European Jews attempted to forge a new life.
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Freedom
Purdy, Jedediah. A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom. Vintage, 2005. ISBN: 978-1400095841
  Purdy, who teaches law at Duke, surveys the ways in which the ideals of individual liberty, dignity and fulfillment have made and remade America. He offers both a searching critique of America's ideology of freedom and an affirmation of the millions of small declarations of independence from hierarchy, constraint, and fear it has inspired.
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The Immigrant Story
Cleave, Chris. Little Bee: A Novel. Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN: 978-1416589648
  A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers—one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.

Kidder, Tracy. Strength in What Remains. Random House, 2010. ISBN: 9780812977615
  This book is global in outlook, addressing issues of immigration, world poverty, and violence -- again, by zeroing in on one man, a charismatic, sympathetic Burundian medical school student who survived Tutsi-Hutu massacres in his native Burundi and genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. ISBN: 9780618485222
  Indian newlyweds Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli emigrate to Cambridge, Mass. in 1968.

Mengestu, Dinaw. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. Riverhead Books, 2007. ISBN: 9781594482854
  This novel is set over eight months in a gentrifying Washington, D.C., neighborhood in the 1970s. The story is told through Sepha Stephanos who fled Ethiopia during the revolution for a new start in the United States.

Scibona, Salvatore. The End. Graywolf Press, 2008. ISBN: 9781555974985
  It is August 15, 1953, the day of a street carnival in the Italian enclave of Elephant Park, Ohio, when Rocco LaGrassa receives an excruciating piece of news: his son has died in a POW camp in Korea. Against the background of immigration, broken loyalties, and racial hostility, the story presents everything Rocco sees through the eyes of various characters in the crowd.
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Inspirational
Cushman, Kathleen. Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery. Wiley, Johns & Sons, Inc. 2010. ISBN: 978-470-64603-8
  Through the voices of students themselves, Fires in the Mind brings a game-changing question to teachers of adolescents: What does it take to get really good at something?
Grandin, Temple. Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life in Autism. Vintage, 1996. ISBN: 978-0679772897
 Grandin is a high-functioning autistic, who presents linked articles on her life and her work as an animal scientist.

Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. Harper Perennial, 2010. ISBN: 978-0061730337
     This book will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those on an entire continent.

Kidder, Tracy. Strength in What Remains. Random House, 2009. ISBN: 9781400066216
  An inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances. Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life and eventually becomes a doctor.

Kristof, Nicholas D. and WuDunn, Sheryl. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. ISBN: 9780307267146
  Two Pulitzer Prize winners issue a call to arms against our era's most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world. They show that a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad and that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women's potential.

Mortenson, Greg. Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Viking, 2009. ISBN: :9780670021154
  In this dramatic first-person narrative, Greg Mortenson ongoing efforts to establish schools for girls in Afghanistan.

Petit, Philippe. Man on Wire. Skyhorse Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9781602393325
  The basis for the motion picture with the same title.: "By evoking his youthful passion for the World Trade Center, Petit brings the towers' awesomeness back to life."

Raji Codell, Esmé. Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year. Algonquin Books, c1999. ISBN: 1565122259
  Esmé's miracle is that she didn't lose faith in herself or her fifth-grade students during her first year of teaching in Chicago, battling all the ills of urban poverty and a principal who was soul mate to Dilbert's boss.

Trost, Margaret. On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman’s Story of Hope and Possibility in Haiti. Koa Books, 2008. ISBN: 9780977333899
  Following her husband s untimely death, Margaret Trost visited Haiti to heal her broken heart through service. Struggling to make sense of the extreme poverty he partners with a local community and together they develop a program that now serves thousands of meals a week to those in need.

Weiner, Jonathan. His Brother’s Keeper: A Story from the Edge of Medicine. HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN: 006001007
  The story is told through the lives of two amazing brothers: Stephen Heywood, a carpenter, who discovers he has A.L.S., and Jamie Heywood, an engineer who quits his lucrative job to start a foundation where he obsessively works with cutting-edge scientists in a race to find a cure.
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Memoir
Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. Penguin Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780143117469.
  A philosopher/mechanic's wise (and sometimes funny) look at the challenges and pleasures of working with one's hands.

Lennertz, Carl. Cursed by a Happy Childhood: Tales of Growing Up, Then and Now. Crown Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN: 9781616797966
  Cursed by a Happy Childhood is a warm, funny, bighearted collection of one dad’s reminiscences about the kinds of lessons we all learn—sometimes the hard way, often without even realizing it—on the road to becoming a grown-up.

Firlik, Katrina. Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: a brain surgeon exposes life on the inside. Random House Publishing, 2007. ISBN: 9780812973402
  Katrina Firlik’s life as a neurosurgeon.

Gilmour, David. The Film Club: A Memoir. Twelve, 2008. ISBN: 9780446199292     
   David Gilmour is a Canadian novelist who finally allows his tenth grade son to drop out of high school on the condition that together they watch three films a week.

Perry, Michael. Truck: A Love Story. HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN: 9780061460951.
  "All I wanted to do was fix my old pickup truck," says Michael Perry. "That, and plant my garden. Then I met this woman. . . ."

Raday, Sophia. Love in Condition Yellow: A memoir of an Unlikely Marriage. Beacon, 2010. ISBN: 9780807073308
  This story is about a marriage between a feminist social activist and an Oakland, CA police officer and soldier.

Waitzkin, Fred. Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess. Penguin Group, 1993. ISBN: 9780140230383
  The chronicle of Fred Waitzkin and his son Josh, from the moment six-year-old Josh first sits down at a chessboard until he wins the national championship.
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Short Stories/Novella
Channer, Colin. The Girl with the Golden Shoes. Akashic Books, 2009. ISBN: 9781615571789
  A coming-of-age novella by Jamaica's best-selling writer.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Unaccustomed Earth: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9781615554911
  In this set of eight stories the gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children—and that separates the children from India.

Packer, ZZ. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Penguin Group, 2004. ISBN: 9781573223782
  Z.Z. Packer's first collection of short stories is rich with unexpected turns, indelible images, and penetrating insight that belies someone so young. Her stories plunge us into the worlds of people living on the edge and to the flashpoints that make or break them, that shape their worldviews forever.
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Survival
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2008. ISBN: 9780374531263
 Beah tells his story of being a boy solider in Sierra Leone, his time in a UNICEF and NGO sponsored rehabilitation center, and Beah's eventual move to the United States as a college student at Oberlin College.

Rumberg, Hester. Ten Degrees of Reckoning: A true story of Survival. Penguin Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780425232101
  A remarkable true story of one woman's courage. In 1993, Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children set out to sail around the world. Three years into their incredible journey, a nearby freighter altered its course by a mere ten degrees-and everything changed...

Wiesel, Elie. Night. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, (revised edition). ISBN: 9780374500016
  Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.
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Virtues and Morals: Exuberance, Kindness, Happiness, Humor
Bennett, Alan. The Uncommon Reader: A Novella. Picador, 2008. ISBN: 978-0312427641
  Popular British writer Bennett (Untold Stories; Tony-winning play The History Boys) sends Queen Elizabeth II into a mobile library van in pursuit of her runaway corgis and into the reflective, observant life of an avid reader.

Boorstein, Sylvia (Ph.D.). Happiness Is an Inside Job: Practicing a Joyful Life. Ballantine Books, 2008. ISBN: 978-0345481320
  The whole idea of this book, she writes, is that restoring a caring connection... and maintaining it when it is present, is happiness.

Phillips, Adam and Taylor, Barbara. On Kindness. Picador, 2010. ISBN: 978-0312429744
  To live the successful modern life, we are enjoined to become less kind and more selfish. That is this small but profound volume’s animating premise. It looks at attitudes toward kindness from a historical perspective, from the Stoics to Christian thought; to Hobbes, Hume, Adam Smith, and Rousseau; to Freud; and to the current day.

Redfield Jamison, Kay. Exuberance: The Passion for Life. A.A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN: 037540144
  If exuberance is "the passion for life," then Jamison's enthusiasm and sense of wonder about the subject proves as fine an example as any examined in her newest work. Having in mind the simply put idea that "those who are exuberant act."

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Crown Publishing Group, 2010. ISBN: 9780307589385
  A thorny and provocative book about cancer, racism, scientific ethics and crippling poverty…. 

Weiner, Eric. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. Twelve, 2009. ISBN: 978-0446698894.
  Weiner traveled to countries like Iceland, Bhutan, Qatar, Holland, Switzerland, Thailand and India to try to figure out why residents tell positive psychology researchers that they're actually quite happy. In the end, he realized happiness isn't about economics or geography. Maybe it's not even personal as much as relational.
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Life Is So Good Reading Guide Questions

1. There are many reasons to admire George Dawson. What qualities did you notice and admire?

2. George often noticed and took pleasure in ordinary things like the taste of his mother's biscuits, seeing the stars, even the "wait in the station."
What are the ordinary things in your life that bring pleasure?

3. Growing up in the Jim Crow south, George often recalls his wary caution with whites.
Are there ways in which minorities and women still must be cautious in their interactions with society?

4. What factors may have contributed to George's long life span?

5. In chapter 20, George says “I had to work all those years, but I was glad to work. A man is supposed to work and take pride in what he does no matter what the work is.” Do you think many people feel this way about work?

6. How does George cope with his illiteracy? How might his life have been different if he'd had the opportunity to go to school as a child?

7. George faced hardships and injustice, he never had much money; yet he still led a successful life.
Did he also have some advantages? Was he “rich” in other ways?

8. Why do you think students in the adult education program and other young students are so drawn to George?

9. In chapter 1, George's father told him "You have no right to judge another human being. Don't you ever forget."
How does this advice effect George's life?

10. How do you think George would answer the question "what makes life worth living"? Why does he think "life is so good"?

11. In Chapter 24, George says “there are some parents these days that are growing children , not raising children.”
What does he mean by this? Do you agree with him?

12. Given that George Dawson's life was limited by racism and poverty, it would be understandable if he was bitter about opportunities lost--but he chose not to feel bitter and instead adopted a willed optimism. How did Dawson's attitude effect his life?

13. Have you ever thought of writing a book? If you had a book in you, what would it be?