Summer reads!

It’s a perfect time of year to sit on the porch with a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine!) and a good book. Speaking of reading, the SAIL Book Club will be going on summer break after this month’s meeting  and will resume in September. We’ll be sure to post the summer reading book in next month’s Messenger. In addition to this book, below are some reads to check out this summer–a memoir of a blind teacher working with senior citizens, a novel of a family’s strife in Vietnam and America, and an exploration of famed author Harper Lee’s first and only work of nonfiction. 

If you have recommendations, feel free to e-mail!  Also, if you’d like information about the SAIL Book Club, call 608-230-4321 or email us.

Click the titles of each book to be taken to their page. 

41djel4r8vl._sx326_bo1204203200_Writing Out Loud: What a Blind Teacher Learned Teaching A Memoir Class For Seniors, by Beth Finke.

This fascinating memoir has all 5-star ratings from readers on! Beth Finke has never taught a class in her life. But when the City of Chicago calls on Beth, a blind writer, to teach a memoir-writing class for older adults, she reluctantly agrees. What she learns about her students, their stories, and herself will move and inspire you. Written the way Beth hears life, you will come to know and love Minerva, Wanda, Hannelore, and the whole colorful cast of characters who build a community around Beth’s classes. Generously sprinkled with excerpts in her students’ own voices, Beth’s book will convince you to get your own stories down on paper.

$16.95 in Paperback on, $13.97 or one credit on Audible, or $9.99 for Kindle. 

41pasgsq8vl._sx331_bo1204203200_On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by VultureEntertainment WeeklyBuzzfeedLos Angeles Times, Boston, Huffington Post, The A.V. ClubNylon, The WeekThe RumpusThe MillionsThe GuardianPublishers Weekly, and more. 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard. 

$17.10 in Hardcover, $17.15 or one credit on Audible, $12.99 on Kindle. This book is being released on June 4, 2019, but will be available at the Madison Public Library soon.  Click here to see which branches will have it. 


51cl044yddl._sx334_bo1204203200_Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep

An Amazon best book of May, 2019! We all know about To Kill A Mockingbird, but what happened to mysterious author Harper Lee after her groundbreaking novel? True crime lovers will be fascinated by the answer!

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more years working on her own version of the case. Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

$16.17 Hardcover, $13.99 on Kindle.  Available through the Madison Public Library.  Click here to see which branches have it. 

If you’re shopping on Amazon, don’t forget to use Amazon Smile to give back to SAIL! Visit and search for “AgeBetter” to have a small portion of your purchase go back to SAIL. 

Happy reading! 

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