Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Daily News Coverage in December!

For those of you who missed Heber's column on Our View, section B, page 8:

Have you read a good book lately?By Heber Taylor The Daily News
Published December 26, 2007

Do people still read for pleasure? Do good things happen when people get together to discuss — and even argue about — books?Galveston County Reads has shown that good discussions are still possible in the age of electronic entertainment and instant gratification.Every year, the organization chooses a book and puts on a series of public discussions. The theory is that we become a better community if we turn off the TV for a couple of evenings, read the same book and discuss it.In an age where we’re bombarded by predictable sound bites, it’s refreshing to hear differing — but well reasoned — perspectives on topics that affect us all.It’s interesting, challenging and free.To get in on the fun, all you have to do is read the book.This year’s selection is Ernest J. Gaines’ novel “A Lesson Before Dying,” which won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1993. It was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 10 years ago.The story, set in Louisiana in the 1940s, is about Jefferson, an uneducated black man who is going to be executed for the murder of a white man. It’s also the story of Grant Wiggins, a young teacher who visits him in jail and tries to give him a sense of his own humanity before he dies.How do you give people in prison a sense of their own humanity? Is it a religious quest or something else? Characters in this novel disagree on that point.Is the value of people in prison something we even think about today?Critics have had vastly different assessments of the value of this book. We suspect there might be a disagreement or two among readers of this page.We’ve got three invitations:First, read the book.Second, check the schedule of events and commit to making at least one. As you see, the first discussion is set for Jan. 2. But don’t worry. “A Lesson Before Dying” is a quick read.Third, drop us a line. We’d love to fill an installment or two of “Word on the Street” with your views about his book.

He concludes by posting the events and book discussions.

One event he missed was:

3/11/08 A Lesson Before Dying: An interactive videoconference with Ernest Gaines. Facilitated by John Gorman. Galveston College, Auditorium FA-207, 4015 Ave. Q, Galveston. Sponsorship and refreshments provided by Galveston College. 7 pm

All events are free and open to the public. Please join us!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Galveston County Reads Events Schedule Announced

The following special events have been scheduled for the 2008 Season of Galveston County Reads:

1/13/08 A Lesson Before Dying. Scene from the play and dialogue. Presented by Ensemble Theatre of Houston. Strand Theatre, 2317 Ships Mechanics Row, Galveston. 2 pm

1/22/08 A Lesson Before Dying. Film. Rosenberg Library, Randall Rm., 2310 Sealy, Galveston. 6 pm

1/29/08 A Lesson Before Dying. Three Professors Panel Discussion: Not Your Typical English Class! Presented by Michael Berberich, Stephen Curley, and John Gorman. Rosenberg Library, Wortham Auditorium, 2310 Sealy, Galveston. 7 pm

2/7/08 Family Dynamics of Black Male Incarceration. Panel discussion with Yoni Benson, Linda Ferguson, Leah Fanuiel, Robert Caraway, Charlie Baldwin, and James Dennis. Facilitated by Jason Glenn. Central Cultural Center Library, 2627 Ave. M, Galveston. Sponsorship and refreshments provided by the UTMB Office of Diversity and International Affairs. 6 – 8 pm

3/11/08 A Lesson Before Dying: An interactive videoconference with Ernest Gaines. Facilitated by John Gorman. Galveston College, Auditorium FA-207, 4015 Ave. Q, Galveston. Sponsorship and refreshments provided by Galveston College. 7 pm

All events are free and open to the public. Please join us!

Galveston County Reads Book Discussions Set

The following book discussions have been scheduled for the coming year:

1/02/08 Mosquito Cafe, 628 14th, Galveston. 7 pm
1/08/08 St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1010 35th St., Galveston. 7 pm
1/10/08 Starbucks, 2808 61st St., Galveston, 5:30 pm
1/12/08 Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church, 2803 53rd St. Galveston. 10 am
1/19/08 LaMarque Public Library, 1011 Bayou Rd., LaMarque. 9 am
1/23/08 Moore Memorial Public Library. 1701 Ninth Ave. North, Texas City. 7 pm
1/24/08 Mod Coffee House, 2126 Postoffice St., Galveston. 7 pm
1/30/08 Helen Hall Library, 100 West Walker, League City. 2pm
2/05/08 St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1010 35th St., Galveston. 7 pm
2/11/08 Westminster Presbyterian, 5127 Ave. U, Galveston. 7 pm
2/12/08 Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church, 2803 53rd St. Galveston. Noon
2/13/08 Rosenberg Library– McCullough Rm., 2310 Sealy, Galveston. Noon.
2/13/08 Midsummer Books, 2309 Ships Mechanics Row, Galveston. 5:30 pm
2/19/08 Friendswood Public Library, 416 South Friendswood Dr., Friendswood. 7 pm
2/27/08 Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 502 Church St., Galveston. 7 pm
3/01/08 Y’a Bon Village Coffeehouse, 2828 Church St., Galveston. 2 pm
3/04/08 St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1010 35th St., Galveston. 7 pm
3/06/08 Tiki Book Club, Public Safety Bldg, 747 Tiki Dr., Tiki Island. 7 pm

All discussions are free and open to the public. Come join the fun!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

December Meeting on Monday

December meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 10th.

Book Nomimation Committee: 3:00 Rosenberg Library, Wortham Auditorium

GCReads Committee: 4:30 Rosenberg Library, Wortham Auditorium

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

November meetings and training session

Galveston County Reads: Lesson Before Dying

Mark Your Calendars:

Monday, November 12 @ 3pm - Book Nomination Committee meets to discuss next year's book! Meets in Wortham Auditorium, Rosenberg Library

@4:30 pm - General Committee meeting to tie up loose ends. Meeting in Wortham Auditorium, Rosenberg Library

@6:00 pm - Book Discussion Leader Training with Dr. John Gorman. Please RSVP to Karen Phone: 409-763-8854 x119. Meeting in Wortham Auditorium, Rosenberg Library

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October Meeting Monday

Next Meeting: Monday, October 22 @ 4pm Rosenberg Library

Friday, August 24, 2007

Discussion Leader Training Workshop Set

John Gorman will conduct a discussion leader training workshop on Monday, November 12 at 6 pm at Rosenberg Library. To register for this event, please call Karen Stanley at 409.763.8854 x119.

The publicity team sent letters to 97 places of worship in the city of Galveston inviting them to send a representative to this program so that they can sponsor discussions at their facilities. We hope to have a large, enthusiastic turnout for this event.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Display at Rosenberg for LBDying book

The display for A Lesson Before Dying went up yesterday, August 7 in the lobby of the Rosenberg Library.

Lynn Burke, the publicity committee chairperson, painted the backdrop.

The scene is meant to signify the struggle down the road of life, and the door symbolizes a new day dawning.

The article can be found on the Guidry News Service online, published Monday, August 06, 2007 with the review by Patty Mayeux.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

August Meeting Monday at 4 pm

Next committee meetings will be on Monday, Aug. 13th.

The Nominating Committee will meet at 3 pm.

Galveston County Reads Committee will meet at 4 pm.

Rosenberg Library

Wortham Auditorium

Book Review: Lesson Before Dying

The Most Important Lesson
By Patty Mayeux

A man is accused of murder, found guilty and sentenced to die via electric chair.

In A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, this common story is told in post-World War II Louisiana. The accused is a young black man, Jefferson, who claims he had nothing to do with the death of the white store owner, nor with the deaths of the two black men he had earlier hitched a ride with.

Condemnation and redemption do battle as the struggle between a young teacher and the accused plays out day by day in a dreary jail cell. Neither one wishes to be involved in the task set before them.

Jefferson has limited mental capabilities and believes he is no better than the “cornered animal” his defense attorney had likened him to during the trial: “What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.”

Jefferson’s godmother, Emma, knows his fate is sealed when the guilty verdict is read; accepting the fact that very soon her reason for cooking, cleaning and caring will be put to death along with her godson. On that day, a determination is borne in her tired soul.

Emma wishes for Jefferson to walk upright to the electric chair. She didn’t raise a hog to be slaughtered without dignity. Grant Wiggins, the only teacher in the “quarter,” is the only one qualified to help Jefferson make the transformation from animal to man. Grant is reluctant, made tired enough by the daily trials of teaching in the make-shift school, housed in the old church on the plantation. Jefferson simply doesn’t care. He has enough capability to realize he will soon die. What could it possibly matter how he does?

Tante Lou, Emma’s best friend and Grant’s aunt, gives the young teacher no choice but to ask the sheriff to allow him to visit Jefferson daily. The request sounds simple, but the circumstances of the day require Grant to step below his education and act the part of the second-class citizen the sheriff believes him to be, based on the color of his skin.

It is out of love and commitment to his aunt that Grant withstands blatant bigotry and mistreatment in order to attempt the task he believes he is incapable of. His college education and limited experience have had nothing to do with teaching a young person like Jefferson how to become a man.

At one point during the months-long struggle, Grant reacts to a show of appreciation by Jefferson: “I caught myself grinning like a fool. I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him. I wanted to hug the first person I came to. I felt like someone who had just found religion. I felt like crying for joy. I really did.”

The time and place may be foreign to us today, but the lesson remains the same. Where do we gather courage, belief and, even in the face of death, hope? From whom do we gain dignity? In A Lesson Before Dying these questions haunt the teacher and the answers evade the student until the line between the two blurs, creating a subtle shift in the relationship between savior and saved.

Galveston County Reads hopes you will read this inspiring book and join in the many community discussions and programs throughout Galveston County. For information, dates and locations go to or call Karen Stanley at the Rosenberg Library, 409-763-8854, x119..

Friday, July 13, 2007

GCR on

We now have a link to our website from the page. Log on to: choose Living in Galveston from menu bars on the left, then choose Organizations from the drop down menu. We're the first listing under Educational. Thanks, Lee!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 27th Meeting

Next meeeting will be at 4:00 pm in the Wortham Auditorium, Rosenberg Library.

For further information please contact the chair:

Karen Stanley(409) 763-8854 x119

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ball High Summer Reading List

The Galveston Reads book, A Lesson Before Dying has made the summer list for Ball High.

For the 12th grade:

1984- Orwell

Les Miserables - Hugo

The Kite Runner - Hosseini

Shadow of the Wind - Zafon

A Lesson Before Dying - Gaines

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Lesson Before Dying chosen for 2008!!

Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines has been selected as the next title for the Galveston County Reads project. A Lesson Before Dying is Ernest J. Gaines' eighth novel, published in 1993. It was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 1997.The Galveston Reads committee is now working on ways to promote and publicize Lesson Before Dying. An effort will be made to publicize the book to Galveston County high schools and colleges for inclusion in their curriculum for next year. Programming for the book will occur January through March, 2008.

There are 4 committees to choose from:

1. Program

2. Publicity

3. Finance

4. Book Selection

Each committee welcomes volunteers and the Chair, Karen Stanley can be contacted for further information:

(409) 763-8854 x 119