Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last Program in 2009~

Galveston Reads presented the last program, The Successfully Resilient Child and The Glass Castle; a panel discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall on 502 Church Street, on Wednesday, March 25, 2009.

This season finale was well attended, with Dr. Taylor and several students from Galveston College and members of the Galveston Reads Committee. With over 55 people in the audience, panel participants Dwight Wolf, MD, a child psychiatrist at UTMB, Karen Smith, PhD, a child psychologist also at UTMB, and Trudy Deen Davis, LMSW with Glennda Rassin, LMSW, serving as moderator.

Trudy discussed how close to real life this book was for her. Literally, she felt that she couldn’t read the book, as she lived it, hearing the stories that she could name the families who were similar to the Walls family. She felt the parents did not provide sufficient support/scaffolding. She both loved and hated this book.

Karen mentioned meta-recognition, whereby Jeannette knows she has to pretend that her family’s life was one long adventure. In addition, the boundaries were blurred and the parents exposed the children to risk. The example she used was the sink or swim theory Rex used to teach Jeannette how to swim. There must have been some support as, the children; both Brian and Jeannette could read.

Dwight did not enjoy the book, as he became detached from the narrative. Initially was engaging, but, he felt the author offered little insight to her life. He mentioned the novel seemed voyeuristic. He also pointed out that children tend to trust their parents, as all powerful, all caring, all good, or all bad. Jeannette seemed to idolize her father.

Glennda defended the book with enthusiasm, as she felt that the author recalled the highlights and was successfully resilient.

Some engaging comments from the audience were received from the panel members such as background of the second husband, who had problems with alcohol and his first marriage, and impending release of a second novel: Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel. Glennda noted this seems contradictory. The evening ended around 7:30 with more conversation among the panelists and audience.

Friday, March 13, 2009


As part of the programming for the 2009 book The Glass Castle, Galveston Reads will hold a panel discussion on the topic of “The Resilient Child” on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall at 502 Church St. in Galveston, from 6:30 to 8 pm. The program is free and open to the public.

Children grow up in many different circumstances. Some seem to have wonderful childhood experiences, yet turn out badly. Some have very difficult childhood experiences and grow up to be strong, successful adults. The child in the memoir The Glass Castle appeared to have a very difficult, impoverished childhood, yet she became a strong and successful adult. There are many theories and research about what makes a child more resilient. We are fortunate to have a panel of experts in the field of child behavior and development to discuss latest research, different aspects of child development and community efforts in keeping children strong and healthy.

Panel participants include Dwight Wolf, MD, a child psychiatrist at UTMB, Karen Smith, PhD, a child psychologist also at UTMB, and Trudy Deen Davis, LMSW with Glennda Rassin, LMSW, serving as moderator.

In cooperation with Rosenberg Library, Galveston Reads, a “One City, One Book” project, is now in its sixth year of encouraging everyone in town to read and discuss the same book. For more information or to join the committee, please contact Karen Stanley at Rosenberg Library, 409.763.8854 x119 or logon to our website at

Lifestories II: A Journaling workshop with The Glass Castle

3/11/09 Lifestories II: A Journaling workshop with The Glass Castle. WestminsterPresbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 5127 Ave. U. 5:30-7:30 pm. With MichelleSierpina.

In the second of two workshops on journaling, Michelle Seirpina helped participants practice ways to tell their own stories.

This was a great workshop with 16 participants from the community.

Workshop Participants
· Discovered basics of journaling for self-reflection
· Reviewed peer reviewed literature on benefits of writing
· Learned the health benefits of attentive listening
· Practiced writing and sharing personal vignettes
· Received a comprehensive bibliography on personal writing
· Were introduced to lifestory protocols and research on lifestory at UTMB
· Became acquainted with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UTMB

Both sessions answered the question, “What is journaling?”
· Self-reflective writing—in journals, diaries and other daily records
· Techniques include flow writing, issue resolution, guided imagery, “morning pages,” and more
· Can be done daily, but not required
· Begin with your own pattern and structure—whatever works for you

Participants used proven techniques to begin their own writing.
· Keep your hand moving
· Do not edit…ignore spelling and grammar errors
· Stuck? Write it. “I don’t know what to write about…”
· Let the writing guide you
· Keep your pen moving

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to write about, so Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen recommends using these three questions:
· What surprised me today?
· What moved me or touched me today?
· What inspired me today?

Examples of the many research studies on the importance of writing your story presented at the workshop are:
· Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, who wrote about stressful experiences, realized measurable health improvement (Smyth, et. al., 1999).
· Writing about personal experiences for only 15 minutes a day for three days, subjects demonstrated improvements in both physical and mental health—those who used more positive-emotion words gained most benefit. Pennebaker, J., & Seagal, J. (1999) Journal of Clinical Psychology 55(10)1243-1254

Many Lifestory protocols developed in OLLI at UTMB help people tell their stories:
· Introductory Lifestory
· Lifestory as Legacy
· Meaning among the Memories
· That’s Another Story
· Advanced Lifestory
· Lifestory on DVD
· Lifestory Theater
· Harris County RPO Writers Group

Lifestory Group Programs share the following elements
· Participants write and share their stories in a safe, caring environment during 8 weekly, two-hour sessions
· One person reads a story of about five minutes in length, while other members of the group listen attentively and with intentionality
· 12-16 seniors in each group are guided by a Trained Facilitator

Lifestory Groups follow these core principles:
· Life experiences shared in 5 minutes vignettes read aloud to the group
· Personal story ideas emerge from stories others read
· Authentic lifestories—no fiction—
· One Voice—one person speaks at a time, no “cross-talk,”
· No interruptions. Everyone listens attentively.
· The writing speaks for itself
· Participants find “One thing I liked in your writing…”
· Comments are on the writing, not on the writer
· Writers refrain from:
· Dialogue about content or missing details in the story
· Conversation about similar or shared life experiences
· Group advice or problem solving

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vote for next Galveston Reads book for 2010

It’s time to vote again! Since opening the final selection to the public went so well last year, Galveston Reads is pleased to announce the short list of candidates for the 2010 “One City, One Book” project. Voting for the 7th year of the community-wide book read is now open to the public. To cast a vote please email Karen Stanley at by April 24.

The Selection Committee started the selection process in early 2008. Even in the face of Ike and its associated problems, committee members continued reading and discussing possible books for 2010. At the beginning of 2009, the list was refined and narrowed and now there are three books for the public to choose from.

The nominations for 2010 are as follows:

“Rocket Boys” By Homer Hickam
A skillfully written memoir that captures the wonder of the early years of space exploration, this book reminds us of the mid-century wonder of seeing Sputnik in the night sky. In his honest rendering of his youth, the author evokes the universal angst of being a teenager while showing that anyone can rise above their circumstances. Brought to the screen as “October Sky”, the novel is far richer and contains many more details about his life and times.

Set in the early 60’s in a poor mining town in West Virginia, “Rocket Boys” details how Homer was inspired to start his own rocket-building club with his friends and how that group wound up winning a National Science Fair award. Initially, only his friends and his mother believe in him; by the end of the book, the whole town is cheering him on. This uplifting story reminds us to keep dreaming and keep striving towards your own personal goals, no matter what obstacles may occur. The economic setting should ring true with many readers as the mining town struggles to survive, and the close proximity of N.A.S.A. to our island strengthens its relevancy to us here on Galveston Island.

“The Hungry Tide” By Amitav Ghosh
This novel is a fairly contemporary story of adventure and unlikely love, identity and history, set in one of the most fascinating regions on earth: the immense labyrinth of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans, an area between India and Bangladesh. Published in 2005, the book is told from the perspective of its two main characters, Kanai Dutt, a Delhi businessman, and Piya Roy, an American scientist of Indian descent who has come to study the rare Irrawaddy dolphin which lives in the rivers of the tide country.
Life is precarious with attacks by deadly tigers common. Unrest and eviction are constant threats for the inhabitants, and without warning, at any time, tidal floods rise and surge over the land. In this land of vengeful beauty, the lives of three people from different worlds collide. Compared to Galveston, with Hurricane Ike leaving devastation in its wake, this book offers insight to the commonalities for all inhabitants by the sea, regardless of where one is located.”The Hungry Tide” is a powerful and irresistible book about ordinary people bound together in an exotic place where devastation can occur with the ebb and flow of the tide. Does this sound similar to those of us here in Galveston? The basest of human emotions, love, jealousy, pride, and trust, make the difference for the characters in this story. Perhaps it’s a lesson that readers can share as they follow Piya, Kanai, and Fokir into the heart of tide country, the Sundarbans. Choose this title for the 2010 Galveston Reads book for a compelling read.

“The Septembers of Shiraz”, By Dalia Sofer
This is an incredible debut novel by Dalia Sofer where characters come alive and the reader is anxious to know what happens next. Imagine living a very comfortable, even luxurious life. How much of that would you be willing to sacrifice? This story of a prosperous Jewish family living in Tehran shortly after the Iranian Revolution gives us a glimpse of a particular family in a time period we’ve heard about in the news but know little. The author orchestrates the drama beautifully with the written word and family dynamics are shown by the author’s alternating of chapters giving each member a chance to tell his/her own story. The power of good literature is that it transcends our differences and shows us commonality of human experiences. Will readers be able to see any connections or experience any changes of attitude as this engaging book is being read?

Galveston Reads is a volunteer organization that encourages participation at all levels. To serve on a committee or cast your vote, contact Karen Stanley at or call 409-4763-8854. Remember that the vote will end on April 24th. All books are available at the Rosenberg Library, as well as local and online booksellers.

Happy Reading!