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librocubicularist - A person who reads in bed


We suspect that OLLI may be the secret headquarters of librocubicularists, because the responses poured in when we asked what books were on your nightstand.  


Sheer numbers demanded that we make a separate supplement to include everyone's book. Here it is, and we hope it helps you find more books for your nightstand.

For the Next Issue of the Bookshelf:  


Was there a book that changed your life in some way? Did a particular book make you decide what profession you wanted to enter? Entice you to move to a new city? Take action for a cause? Change the way you behave toward others or yourself? Or help you see the world in a different way? Take a look at the "Books that Changed My Life" article on KK.org if you'd like to see how someone else approached this question.  


Please send your responses to Cheri Sullivan (cheryl.sullivan@gmail.com) by December 20.

In This Issue
Mysteries, Thrillers and Spy Novels
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Biography, Autobiography and Memoir
U.S. History, Politics, Culture and Society
History, Culture and Society - International.
Art and Design
About Us



BookPam Olson - Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda & Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum 

The first is about an international adoption and how it affects all involved. The second is a novel which takes place during the Holocaust.


Phyllis Gingold - The Paris Wife by Paula McLain 

I'm reading this for my book club. Not really into it and not a fan of Hemingway (the book is a novel about his first wife), so I'm not sure how I'll fare with it.


Samuel Bostaph - Pierre; or The Ambiguities by Herman Melville  

Can't decide whether Melville is serious or just writing a parody of the British and U.S. upper class romance novel. I lean towards the latter.


Book Margaret Hoffman - My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

It's about a female physician in the Civil War.


Elaine Lutz - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Since it is 754 pages, it will be on my nightstand for awhile. It is about a woman who leaves her husband and son to live with her lover.


Carol Kubitz - The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini


Elly Ray - Joseph the Provider by Thomas Mann

I am re-reading this, 35 or 40 years later. It's even more engrossing now.


Gene Amberg - The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

A debut novel about a reclusive man who disrupts the lonely harmony of his ordered life of growing apples and apricots when he opens his heart and lets the world in.


Kitty Schlueter - The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai


Sarah Wisseman - Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Compelling novel set in 17th century Massachusetts starring a headstrong young woman and her friendship with the first Native American to attend Harvard. I couldn't put it down. Brooks also wrote the amazing People of the Book.


Theresa Michelson - Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel


Diane Gottheil - Despair by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov's novels are among my all-time favorites.


Irene Metzger - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

On the Kindle



Book Marilyn Hancock - The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity

Through a young orphan's eyes and experiences you see her going on an orphan train out west with the hopes of being adopted. Some people are good and some are wanting free labor or sexual prey. She is adopted and witnesses many changes in the country and in her attitudes, such as the suffragette movement, fashion, prohibition, etc., until her death in her 90s.


Brenda Lerner Berg - Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Very light and interspersed with recipes.


Mary Perlstein - Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel



Joy Thornton-Walter & Theresa Michelson - Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Joy wrote: Mantel's second in an anticipated three-novel set about the court of Henry VIII. We see the world through the subtly perceptive eyes of Thomas Cromwell, the king's Secretary-adviser. The first book, Wolf Hall, won the Booker Prize, and I'm enjoying this one even more.


Theresa wrote: This historical novel, a sequel to the 2009 Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall, follows the reign of Henry VIII through the eyes of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. As the novel begins, Ann Boleyn has replaced Katherine as queen, but Henry is beginning to have second thoughts.


Book Beth Chato - Leonardo: A Biographical Novel by Curtiss Bill Pepper

It would have been helpful if he had included illustrations of da Vinci's artwork, as he makes detailed descriptions of them.


Martha Eller - All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories by William Maxwell

He grew up in Lincoln, Illinois and ended up an editor in New York City. His writing is full of reflection on the past (the heartbreak of losing his adored mother when he was a child) and his later life in New York. This is a wonderful collection of stories.


Anne Heiles & Barbara Kessel - Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker

Anne wrote: Because of a recommendation from Barbara Kessel in the Writers' Café study group after I read one of my attempts at short-story writing. Barbara wrote: This is a re-read. One of the great short story writers, undervalued because she never wrote a novel and hung out with the wrong crowd.


Mysteries, Thrillers and Spy Novels


Bill Curry - Un lieu incertain by Fred(erique) Vargas (in French); available in English as An Uncertain Place

This is the eighth policier by Vargas. Her police novels centered around the unusual Commissaire Adamsberg are quite enjoyable.


Book Traci Nally - Face of the Earth by Doug & Linda Raber

This fictional thriller, set in 2013, is about a smallpox outbreak believed to be bioterrorism. The authors are retired scientists who live in D.C., and it shows. The book is footnoted with CDC, Congressional Record, and Washington Post sources, among others. A page turner, and smart. I'm reading it on my Kindle but it's also available in paper.


Linda Coleman - The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Part of a trilogy set in Barcelona and stretched over the course of time just before, during, and after the Spanish Civil War. Wonderful settings, suspense, and some magical realism.  



Isabel Cole - Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

The futher adventures of Dave Robicheaux  and Clete Purcel in New Orleans and lower Louisiana.


Don Pilcher - A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

An epic story covering Europe (a minor part from South America) from 1940 to 1999. Spies, cops, evil, love, lots of smoking and drinking, a little sex, a little murder, plenty of political intrigue and lots of characters encased in moral ambiguity. Most interesting yarn to me was the push of upper level Nazis to move gold out of Europe in anticipation of losing the war.


Book Anne Heiles - Death and Transfiguration by Gerald Elias and Illegal Action by Stella Rimington

The Elias book is a terrific fourth book in his mystery series based on a violinist character, Daniel Jacobus, this one based in the symphony world. Earlier ones looked at the worlds of quartets, soloists, and violinmakers. Rimington's book may be too much of a thriller for me, but I enjoyed a lecture the author gave at Chautauqua in 2011 about her her work as head of Britain's MI5.


Delora Siebrecht - Shadow of Night (2nd book in the All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

Witches, vampires, alchemy, magic, time travel, and history with a love story woven in. Book two is set in Elizabethan London with well-known historical characters in the story.


Sharon Meacham - A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot

The story is set right after WWI and is a detective story, romance, and intrigue, all rolled into one. Mathilde is searching for her fiancé, who has reportedly been killed in action. She does not believe that this is the whole truth.



Carol Perhach - 4 books: 61 Hours, The Affair, Gone Tomorrow and Worth Dying For, all by Lee Child

A friend recommended Lee Child and I have read four of his books in the past couple of weeks. Fast reads, simplistic violent plots, and I love them.


Beth Chato - Wicked Business by Janet Evanovitch

George Brock - Blood of Victory by Alan Furst

Elegant European spy novel set in 1940. Employs remarkable authenticity and atmosphere to describe the British secret service's operation to impede exportation of Romanian oil to Germany.


Book Bob Jones - The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

I had to read this after we watched the Masterpiece Mystery version on TV recently.


Mary Carroll King - A Sunless Sea by Anne Perry

It's a William Monk mystery, English, set in the late 1800's.


Pam Olson - Save Me by Lisa Scottoline

Her books are great. You can never guess the endings.


Diane Gottheil - California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker

A murder mystery. The author was a high school classmate of my friend and Pilates instructor Janice Dulak. The book takes place in their hometown of Tustin, California.


Book Louise Allen - A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

One of the delightful Amelia Peabody mysteries. Peabody is a University of Chicago Oriental Institute trained Egyptologist with a wicked sense of humor and there is a marvelous cast of slightly weird characters. This one is set in the Holy Land shortly before the outbreak of World War I.


Sandy Leister - The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

This was a very haunting (and occasionally violent) mystery of a kidnapped 3 year old. Intriguing, suspenseful story which I would recommend.


Science Fiction and Fantasy

Book Bev Herzog - Conspiracy of Silence (Space 1889 & Beyond: Season Two) by Andy Frankham-Allen and fellow OLLI member Frank Chadwick. 


Georgia Morgan - A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (vol. 2 in the Game of Thrones series)

Currently reading this on my Nook. These books are too thick to hold in paper format!


Judy Reynolds - Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks

It's the first book in the newest trilogy of the Shannara series. It's basically good vs. evil in the fantasy world of elves, trolls, and other faerie races. This one promises also to give the race of mankind a larger role than in previous books.


Biography, Autobiography and Memoir

Marilyn Hill - Hero of Trafalgar: The Story of Lord Nelson by A.B.C. Whipple

Most interesting. The history of the British navy in the early 1800's under Nelson's brilliant leadership and the graphic description of the battle of Trafalgar, in which the French navy was defeated, leading to the eventual downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte, were fascinating. Unfortunately, Admiral Nelson lost not only an arm in an earlier conflict, but his life in the final battle. The love of Nelson's commanders as well as the ordinary seamen was tremendously described. A great, interesting, rapid read.



George Perlstein - Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

An autobiography of an autistic savant. 


Jim Gentry -- Cronkite by David Brinkley

The research by historian Douglas Brinkley and staff have produced a unique and exciting reading adventure about Walter Cronkite.


Brenda Lerner Berg -- Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith

A portrait of a modern queen that makes you appreciate the history that she has both made and lived through.


U.S. History, Politics, Culture and Society

Book Andrea Beller -- The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition by Katherine S. Newman

It is about the growing tendency for young adult kids to move back into or not to leave the parents' home in the United States and several other industrialized countries.


Denise Taylor - Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler and also Barack Obama by David Maraniss

he book on Hawaii is a fascinating history of the islands from 200 AD through their annexation by US expansionists. Manifest Destiny unfolds! The Maraniss biography of Obama is relatively neutral politically and presents interesting insights into the varying definitions of race and class across cultures - US, Hawaii specifically, Kenya, Indonesia. It's a good complement to Lost Kingdom.


Mike Schlueter - The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton; Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell; The Social Animal: Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks; Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon

I just finished the first two and recommend them. I'm currently reading the second two.

Christine Cox - How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Maxine Kaler & Nancy Creason - The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Maxine wrote: It is about the migration of blacks from the south to the north and west during the first three quarters of the 20th
century. It's one of the best books I have read in a very long time.
Nancy wrote: Anchored in the stories of three individuals who made the migration from the repressive South to the North and West, Wilkerson chronicles the migration of black citizens from 1915 to 1970. To quote from the dust cover, "through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people..., this book is destined to become a classic."


Carl Jockush - It's Even Worse than it Looks by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein 

It is a lucid discussion of our dysfunctional political system, including the causes and possible ways to move towards a government that is not gridlocked.



Mike Martin - The Good Soldier by David Finkel

Experience soldiers' deployment to Iraq through the eyes and ears of a gifted journalist.


Merle Levy - It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism by Thomas Mann (Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute)

This is a very readable history and analysis of how we got where we are today by two highly respected political scientists.


Dave Sharpe & Brenda Berg - American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard

David wrote: I have found this book invaluable in providing perspective on the current political scene.


Annette Buckmaster - The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten

The essays are fascinating and very well written.


James Kearns - Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century by Michael Hiltzik and The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (1960-64) by Robert Caro 

Both fabulous.

Book Barbara Meyer - People of Chaco: A Canyon and its Culture by Kendrick Frazier

Iread this in preparation for our upcoming OLLI trip to New Mexico in May 2013. It's the fascinating story of those who first "discovered" the Chaco ruins and excavated, protected and preserved  this astonishing culture. 


Louise Allen - C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy by Jeff Sharlet

It's a fairly hair-raising commentary on the meeting and sometimes lodging place in Washington of some of the ultra-conservative members of Congress and the involvement of religious conservatives in the military, especially the Air Force Academy. I might note that since I am legally blind, I am sent this and many other books in audio form by the Library of Congress Talking Books program, a wonderful and completely free service!


History, Culture and Society - International

Book Fred Christensen - The Great Divide by Peter Watson

How and why the two halves of the human race (Old World/New World) developed differently for 16,000 years; stimulating, thought provoking, and eccentric!


Priscilla Christians - Peter Hessler's trilogy on China (The China trilogy titles are River Town, Country Driving and Oracle Bones.)

I'm reading the trilogy because of a trip to China last spring. Two finished, one to go.


Marilyn Nichols - Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland


Barak Rosenshine - The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership

by Yehudah Avner

Chatty but detailed book on Israeli history from 1948 to the present.  


Jeff Kirby - Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams

Retraces Hiram Bingham III's (the real Indiana Jones) discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911. Good history of the Incas as well.


Annette Lansford - In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larson


Book Sandy Volk - The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel  

"Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history." (from the cover)  


Anne Reeser - The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt


Frank Chadwick - The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East by Abraham Rabinovich

The best overall account of the war from the Israeli point of view I've read (and I've read a bunch).



Book Marsha Gepner - The Price of Politics by Bob Woodward

Newly published, the book examines the President and Congress's attempts to restore the American economy and resolve the federal government's fiscal budget issues. It draws from personal interviews, memos, emails and meeting notes.


Anna Merritt - Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott

In a desperate effort to get a better understanding of what is going on in the world right now (and more of the chatter about it), I'm reading Keynes Hayek.


Jean Peters - End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

Krugman advocates massive government spending to jump-start the economy.


Robert McGrath - Broken Markets: How High Frequency Trading and Predatory Practices on Wall Street Are Destroying Investor Confidence and Your Portfolio by Sal Arnuk and Joseph Saluzzi

It's a comprehensive and authoritative indictment of computerized trading. I'm reviewing it as part of a series of comments/reviews on my blog.


Julia Schmidt - Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell



Book Morton Brussel - Knocking on Heaven's Door by Lisa Randall

This is a book about the deepest questions confronting astronomy and particle physics. It is intended for the lay public, but I must say it will not be so easy to understand for most, despite the author's attempt to make it so. However, one doesn't have to understand everything she says to still appreciate what she is trying to convey and learn from her discourse. She attempts to explain things using many metaphors; the book is completely non mathematical-no equations. In essence it is a look at the physical universe in the light of the most recent discoveries. She has been involved with these discoveries as a theoretical particle physicist and professor at Harvard. I'm a retired physicist. Even so, there is much there that I find new and stimulating.  

Marilyn Kohl - An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases by Moises Velasquez-Manoff

Places allergies and autoimmune disease in the context of the evolution of our genes and the organisms around and inside us. Fascinating!


Jack Paxton - The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet by Jim Robbins


Art and Design


Barbara Meyer - Drawing Imaginary Animals by Carla Sonheim

By helping you break the rules of traditional drawing and media and silence your inner critic, Sonheim has produced one of the best books on creativity I've ever read. 


Michael Fuerst - Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers (2nd ed.) by David Hornung

Book Personal Health


Beth Felts - Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

I have filled in worksheets from the author's website and asked the four questions, and gotten rid of very old resentments, anger, and other undesirable behaviors that did not contribute to a life of serenity and calm. This is a very effective way to build healthy emotions.



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About OLLI Illinois

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with support from the Bernard Osher Foundation, is part of a national network that recognizes learning has no age limits.  


Through a rich array of lifelong learning opportunities, members are inspired to take a fresh look at themselves, their world, and the possibilities that await them.


OLLI at Illinois is a member-led community of peers. It provides its members with a number of special perks and offers them exciting courses, educational trips, small-group discussion opportunities, a meeting place and special events.


Click here for more information OLLI Illinois and how to join us.