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2011 Ann Katz Festival of Books

October 10, 2011 by Reader's Connection

From October 22nd through November 19th, the Jewish Community Center will host the 13th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books. Visit their website for a more complete list of events and your chance to register for them. Here are some of the books whose authors will appear. Each program begins at 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday, October 25th 

Marilyn Berger

This Is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes

This Is a Soul: The Mission of Rick HodesDr. Rick Hodes arrived in Africa more than two decades ago to help the victims of a famine, but he never expected to call this extremely poor continent his home. Twenty-eight years later, he is still there. This Is a Soul tells the remarkable story of Rick Hodes’s journey from suburban America to Mother Teresa’s clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a boy, Rick was devoted to helping those in need, and eventually he determined that becoming a doctor would allow him to do the most good . . . Marilyn Berger went to Africa to write about Dr. Hodes, but while there, she became involved with the story. When she came upon a small, deformed, and malnourished boy begging on the street, she recognized immediately that he had the exact disease Rick could cure. She took him to Rick, who eventually arranged for the boy to have a complicated and risky surgery, which turned out to be incredibly successful. The boy’s story—intertwined with Rick’s, and Marilyn’s as well—is unforgettable in its pathos and subtle humor. — HarperCollins


Monday, October 31st

Lee Kravitz

Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things

Unfinished Business“Life goes fast,” Lee Kravitz observes in Unfinished Business: “Click. You are fifteen. Click, click. You are fifty-five. Click, click. You are gone. And so are the people who loved and nurtured you.” Realizing these truths all too clearly when he finds himself out of a job in his mid-fifties and suddenly adrift, Kravitz decides to take a year out of an otherwise workaholic existence and attend to the real currency of life—human relationships . . . When he makes his conscience-clearing “to do” list, it is long and complicated, and he is uncertain how his long-overdue overtures will be received; among the fractured relationships are a beloved aunt he has neglected for 15 years, a traveling buddy he borrowed $600 from and never paid back and a bereaved friend he never consoled. His inspiring journey of re-connection and redemption takes us to far-flung places—a refugee camp in Kenya, a monastery in California, a bar in Cleveland—and introduces us to a host of kind and kindred spirits from whom he gains strength, insight and encouragement. — BookPage


Monday, November 14th  

Charles Fishman

The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water

The Big ThirstFor the past 100 years, the developed world has enjoyed a cheap, safe, and abundant water supply, but Fishman warns that everything about water is about to change–how we use it, how we share it, and how we value it. In an engrossing, globe-trotting narrative, he introduces the reader to people already grappling with water shortages–Patricia Mulroy, Las Vegas’s no-nonsense water czar known as the best water manager in the country; the inhabitants of a neighborhood in Delhi who line up twice a day for water they must carry home. Since water cannot be created or destroyed, the challenge we face is not so much about water scarcity but rather how we can use it more equitably and protect it–the meaning of “clean” has a wholly new connotation in an era when we can pollute water in new ways with residues of medicine and plastics. Fishman notes that some of the most innovative ways of conserving water are coming from big businesses, including IBM, which has cut the water use in its microchip production 27% in the past eight years. A comprehensive, remarkably readable panorama of our dependence on–and responsibilities to–a priceless resource. — Publishers Weekly


Wednesday, November 16th

Tom Fields-Meyer

Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism and Love from his Extraordinary Son

Following EzraChronicling son Ezra’s toddler years through his bar mitzvah, journalist Fields-Meyer approaches autism from a topical perspective, creating a loving tribute that favors “following” his son’s interests instead of imposing behavioral or social expectations. Subjects range from the initial diagnosis to Ezra’s deep enchantment with animals, and from learning to read to the rewards and challenges of parenting a child who is spirited and unfiltered in his expressions. This is not the average medical memoir concerned with educating the public, nor does it trace a common tragedy-to-triumph trajectory; the author strongly emphasizes supporting Ezra himself over the condition. Advised early on to “grieve for the child he didn’t turn out to be,” Fields-Meyer quickly realized that there was nothing to grieve, and no sense of blame. Together with his wife and Ezra’s brothers, he adapted to life at a slower pace, allowing frustration and wonderment alike to play out naturally. Characteristics of autism, which can include repetition, fixation, facial nuances, lessened eye contact and a superb memory for obscure minutiae are not treated as symptoms to normalize but as opportunities to enter Ezra’s world—whether that means learning the running times of animated films or appreciating honest insights. — Kirkus Reviews


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