Historical Novels and Nonfiction Book Group 2017-18 Reading List

Exploration, Exploitation, the Eiffel Tower, and the Aviatrix

Eugene/Springfield–Magellan’s historic 16th century odyssey, the political upheaval of the 1950s Chinese Cultural Revolution, the 19th-century controversy surrounding the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the adventures of the 20th-century aviatrix who first flew nonstop from Europe to America—these represent just a few themes central to the books selected for reading over the next year by the Historical Fiction/Nonfiction group.

As the sharp distinctions between genres have dissolved in recent decades, historians now weave important historical events into absorbing storytelling. The upcoming reading list offers a wide selection of history from both fiction and nonfiction titles. OLLI members are encouraged to join in the discussion on any or all selected books on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 10 a.m. in the Canada Room.

Faciliator: Joyce Churchill

Reading List for 5/17–4/18

May: Gail Tsukiyama, A Hundred Flowers (fiction)
June: Joshua Hammer, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (nonfiction)
July: Nancy Horan, Under the Wide and Starry Sky (fiction)
August: Beryl Markham, West with the Night (nonfiction)
September: Beatrice Colin, To Capture What We Cannot Keep (fiction)
October: Laurence Bergreen, Over the Edge of the World (nonfiction)
November: Paulette Jiles, News of the World (fiction)
December: Candice Millard, Hero of the Empire (nonfiction)
January: Alan Brennert, Moloka’i (fiction)
February: Nomi Prins, All The Presidents’ Bankers (nonfiction)
March: Hanaya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees (fiction)
April: Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist (fiction)


International Relations: Field Trip to the Nobel Peace Park

Eugene/Springfield–All OLLI-UO members are invited to tour the Nobel Laureate Peace Park. The tour will be led by John Attig, founder of the project creating the first ever U.S. peace park honoring 24 American winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. They ended wars, prevented others, aided war victims, and saved millions of lives. The field trip is an opportunity to learn more about our nation’s internationally recognized peace makers. Instead of meeting at the Downtown Baker Center, travel directly to the main entrance of Alton Baker Park north of the Duck Pond for the 10:00 a.m. start.

Contacts: John Attig or Randall Donohue

Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity” and U.S. Foreign Policy

Central Oregon–Bend resident Bruce Donahue, who recently retired as Minister-Counselor from the US Department of State, speaks about his last assignment as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, from 2013–2015. In his presentation, Donahue reviews the often misunderstood events of the winter of 2013–2014, which led then-Ukrainian President Yanukovych to flee the country and allowed a pro-Western government to come to power. He also discusses Russia’s actions during the “Revolution of Dignity,” including the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Finally, he outlines implications for U.S. foreign policy and lessons learned from the Ukrainian revolution.

Donahue retired from the Foreign Service in 2016 after a 33-year career as a Foreign Service Officer. During most of his career, he focused on Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, serving in Poland and Moscow. Other overseas assignments included South Korea and Armenia. Donahue received his BA from Cornell University and his MA and PhD from the University of Oregon, respectively. He has been married to his wife, Karen, for 34 years; they have four adult children.

Registration is required for this lecture.

Adventures of a Ballet Historian

Eugene/Springfield–When Marian Smith was doing her doctoral research on ballet music in the Opéra archives in Paris, she saw a mysterious photograph of a musical score for ballet that was heavily annotated with instructions about how to perform the ballet. However, she could not find the original manuscript. In this presentation (which includes pictures and short videos), she will describe her attempt to locate this exciting manuscript, and the ways in which her search and findings along the way affected her ideas and appreciation for 19th-century ballet.

Smith is professor of music at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, where she teaches courses on western art music and musical theater. She earned a PhD in musicology from Yale University.

There’s a New Health Sheriff in Town—Aging Do’s and Don’ts

Central Oregon–What is the worst thing for your health? Aging. While this deleterious factor may be inevitable for humans, there are recent, profound discoveries in the cellular world that open the doors to lifestyles and treatments that may reduce the negative impact of aging. These discoveries tie the systems of the human body together in ways we have always assumed, but only now have actually demonstrated. Answering the question of “how,” researchers can attempt to intervene in the process of aging. But what do we target? Aging is not simple. Dr. Timothy Burnett leads a class on this subject.

This class focuses on the basics of intercellular communication and how different body systems react and respond to each other to maintain life. Dr. Burnett delves into a few key players in some of the most common diseases with aging and discusses which behaviors elicit an optimal health response. Additionally, he uses examples (such as exercise, calorie restriction, and spaceflight) to explore the possible underpinnings of healthy—and not-so-healthy—aging.

Dr. Burnett is an instructor of kinesiology at Oregon State University Cascades campus. He received his BS in kinesiology from California State University San Marcos and his MS in exercise physiology from San Diego State University. His doctoral work in human bioenergetics was performed at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. This National Institute of Health-funded work focused on the loss of skeletal muscle size and function during aging and how lifelong aerobic exercise affects this process.

Writing as Discovery

Eugene/Springfield–Join OLLI member George Kaufman in a six-session, once-a-week writing course that begins on April 25.

Writing is a conversation on paper. Our life experiences make us into teachers, students, and observers, all rolled into one. In this course, you will have an opportunity to draw on your history to write from what you know, get in touch with what you feel, and let your words flow without the constant interference of your self critic.

The class will include ways to jumpstart writing when you face a blank page and opportunities to fire up your imagination when it is time to write. There will be opportunities to share what you have written, but only if you choose to share. Some of the elements of writing that will be addressed are metaphor and simile, style, memoir writing, and Haiku. You may wish to read Writing from the Heart by Nancy Aronie or Gabriele Rico’s book, Writing the Natural Way.

Kaufman earned degrees from Columbia University and Yale Law School. He is the author of the book Balancing Life and Work, which was published by the American Bar Association, and is also the author of Accidental Spirituality, a series of intimate stories about finding extraordinary experiences in everyday life. He has taught courses at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Esalen, New York Open Center, and Pelican Cove International University.

If you are interested in participating in this short course, please contact the OLLI-UO office,

Enrollment for this course is limited to 30 participants. 

Register by contacting the OLLIUO/Academic Extension office, 541-346-0697, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., on weekdays.

Many Hands Make Light Work

Many hands make light work OLLI-UO Central Oregon belongs to the members and needs to be nurtured by its members to have a sustainable future.

OLLI-UO leadership is rolling out a campaign, if you will, to bring on more volunteers We have a myriad of tasks that need to be done by members—even more tasks than usual due to some planned reductions in our local Academic Extension staffing schedule We have a real jewel with OLLI and we know it Soon it is going to be necessary for more people to step up and agree to be responsible for a defined task Volunteerism is part of OLLIs across the nation and is a key reason for their success

We all have had careers and have collected a lot of wisdom in our lives We know that if we want to hold on to something good, we have got to care for it So, when you start hearing the details in the coming weeks about the tasks that need an owner, please seriously consider saying, “Yes! I can do that!” The more volunteers we have, the less each one of us has to do We can also have fun and take pride in knowing we are doing something that is important to a lot of people Let’s create a deep bench of volunteers, because not only do many hands make light work, many hands will ensure all members can enjoy OLLI in the best way possible

Suzanne Butterfield,
OLLI-UO Central Oregon Newsletter Editor

Working for Human Rights—On the Ground and Online

Eugene/Springfield–Mariah Elizabeth Grant, human rights and migration consultant, will share her work experiences in Thailand, Greece, and the U.S. In 2014, she worked in Thailand with refugee communities and on programs to counter human trafficking. With the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women and the International Organization for Migration (UN Migration Agency), she researched how traffickers connected with people online, especially through social media.

In Greece during the spring of 2016, Grant worked in the camps for people seeking international protection. She saw how online communications can help humanitarian professionals respond to emergencies, how those fleeing conflicts can maintain contact with loved ones and chart paths to safety, and how all those involved—refugees, volunteers, and aid workers—were able to raise awareness and tell their stories.

She exposes how antimigrant forces use online platforms to disseminate hateful and harmful rhetoric, and suggests methods for the human rights system to be more responsive in the face of proliferating fake news that dictates negative global sentiments and policies toward migrants.

Grant graduated magna cum laude in 2010 with a BA in international studies from the UO, and went on to receive her MA in human rights and democratization from the University of Sydney in 2013.

Sharing Your Travel Experience with Other OLLI Members

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.—John A. Shedd

Many OLLI members enjoy traveling, returning to family roots, exploring our northwest region or adventuring overseas. For foreign destinations, we like to prepare with knowledge and advice from multiple sources—travel websites, Google Earth, Rick Steves, or friends who have been there. Collecting country information is no problem, but then how to organize it? I start by using six trusted headings:

  • Geo-Nature is my combination of geography and the natural environment. I include information on country borders, climate, topography, flora and fauna, water, and pollution.
  • History—How the country was settled or colonized, important leaders, key milestones such as year of independence, a recent earthquake, or when the national team won Olympic gold in soccer.
  • People and Culture—The population, urban v. rural, major ethnic groups, education, literacy, birthrate, life  expectancy, healthcare, and sanitation. Languages, food, religion, and values reflected in predominant national culture; this is my favorite section.
  • Politics and Law—Governance system, legal system, how power is shared, and results of the last election. External relations: foreign policy, disputes with neighboring countries, and relations with the U.S.
  • Economics— Manufacturing, agriculture, services, and tourism. GNP growth and GDP per capita, employment, currency exchange rates, major imports and exports.
  • Tech and Transport—How is electricity generated—oil and coal v. renewable? Are wall plug adapters needed? Internet and Wifi availability? Infrastructure and roadways, domestic airports, buses, and ferry systems.

If you plan to share your travel experience with other OLLI members, then consider this kind of country profile method to help organize your data, photos, and slides. Your written profile can also be turned into a useful handout.

Randall Donohue,
Eugene-Springfield Council President

Accidental Spirituality Brown Bag

Eugene/Springfield–Join George Kaufman for a brown bag luncheon as he explores the subject of Accidental Spirituality—how ordinary people can have extraordinary moments, and how those extraordinary moments can be woven into the fabric of their lives.

Kaufman has recently completed a book on this subject and will read selections that reflect his thoughts on growing, learning, and exploring. The selections touch on compassion, mentoring, the planet, parents, memories, and relationships or, as Zorba had observed about life, “the full catastrophe.”

The luncheon will be interactive, with opportunities to write and share pieces drawn from your own personal experiences. Those experiences live in our bodies at a cellular level. They thrive in sunlight and are nourished by laughter, joy, intimacy, and caring.