Book Discussion Group

The Book Discussion Group led by Bill Hayes and Mary Lou Thompson has a dedicated group on a Monday afternoon of each month at 2 pm. Newcomers are welcome at any session. It is not necessary to have read the book and it’s okay to come for one book and not another. Books are recommended by members and agreed upon by all.


Monday, January 8 at 2:00pm. Discussion of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance.  The book tells a true story of what social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.  It relates directly to what is called President Trump’s base. Mary Lou will lead the discussion.

In February will revert to our first Monday meetings and will meet February 5 at 2:oopm.  The book will be Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  Irving tells her own story of her “aha” moment which launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan.

Our March date is Monday, March 5 at 2:00pm to discuss Just In Time by Joan Jackson.  This is a hopeful, first-hand account of the roller coaster life of living with a schizophrenic.


Jan. 2   Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates discussing what it is like growing up Black in America especially knowing that race is a made up idea to support the concept of slavery and has no basis in science.
Jan. 9   Field trip – a result of reading Last Day’s of Night about the  Edison and Westinghouse decision as to who invented the light bulb.. Two carloads went to Fort Myers for a tour of the Edison properties.
Jan. 16  Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel.
Jan. 30  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.
April 24    Eleanor Roosevelt vol. 3 by Blanch Weisen Cook. Discussion led by Geri Pasquarella.
May 22   Karen Armstrong’s The History of God. Skip McAfee led the discussion, distributing the synopsis he developed to each participant.
June 12   Night by Elie Wiesel. Mr. Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize for this book about his imprisonment during the holocaust.  Bill Hayes led the discussion.
July 24  The Sin Warriors by Julian E. Farris. The novel is based on the true story of the disappearance of homosexuals from Florida universities due to the  covert investigations by state senator Charlie Johns. 
July  25   Field trip, as a result of reading Night, to the Holocaust Museum in St Pete with lunch at Albert Whitted Airfield in downtown St Pete.
September 4  The Grace of the Gingko by Michael Hardesty, the story of an atheist grandfather bringing up his orphaned granddaughter. The book tells the story of an atheist grandfather who suddenly becomes his granddaughter’s guardian at her birth.  Her mother died giving birth and the father had previously died in the Iraq War.  We discussed whether or how his atheism affected his raising of his granddaughter, how he conducted his own life, is murder ever justified and if assisted suicide should be legal. Also  the significance to the story of the ginkgo tree which sheds all of its leaves at one time.
October 9  On My Own.  This is the memoir by Diane Rehm about her life after the death of her husband of 53 years. Diane moderated a talk show on NPR
November 6.  Threading My Prayer Rug by Saheeha Rehman. A memoir of a woman’s journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim and the difficulty in assimilating into a new culture while still holding onto the culture and traditions of her old country. It is a real immigrant story and is so current with America politics today. Discussion led by Sally Isham..
December 4.  Good Without God by Greg Epstein. Epstein is the humanist chaplain at Harvard and in this book highlights humanity’s potential for goodness and the ways in which Humanists lead lives of purpose and compassion. The book is an inspiring and provocative exploration of an alternative to traditional religion. 


The first book of the Book Club was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. His presentation at the UUA GA 2017 is available on You Tube at: uua ga 2017.
The second book was Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It deals with the medical care being provided to the elderly in our nation and how it too often fails to prepare us for our inevitable death. Members discussed and shared forms for end of life:  medical directives, power of attorney, wills, MUUF Life Crisis Forms.
Zealot: Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan was next and the group used the recommended UUA Study Guide. This book put forth the argument that the historically accurate Jesus is a Hebrew Zealot and not the divine Christ as invented by Christianity.
Aug. 29, Sept. 12 and 26. Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel began August. Mr. Patel was the 2013 Ware Lecturer at GA. We use the study guide developed by UUA. The book describes Patel’s growing up as a Muslim in interfaith America. To view and listen to his Ware Lecture, go to 2013
Nov. 6  As a result of reading Being Mortal, members of the Discussion Group planned and presented an End of Life program at Sunday Service. Tidewell Hospice program was presented at two Share-a-Dish dinners.
Nov. 7   Black Flags and the Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick. The author depicts how the zeal of one man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the mistakes of two US Presidents led to the banner of ISIS being raised over large swaths of Iraq, Syria and other countries.
Nov. 21  The Miracle of the Kurds
Dec. 5  The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. This is an historical novel about George Westinghouse’s law suit against Thomas Edison about who discovered the electric light bulb. Billions were involved. In conjunction with reading the book, the club traveled to Fort Myers to visit the Edison and Ford winter vacation homes on Jan. 9, 2017.