Have you ever read a book that moved you so deeply that you felt compelled to meet the author?
One such book for me is "Night" by Elie Wiesel. I did not read this as part of Oprah's book club, but read it long ago, more than once, partly because Buddy Bill also taught it to his students before he retired. Last night I was fortunate enough to be present when Elie Wiesel spoke to a crowd of over 1600 people at our local University. Even better, I was in the front row!
Buddy Bill, his younger son, and I arrived over an hour early and were near the front of the line, which grew quickly. While waiting, I knitted the cuff of monkey sock number two and we chatted with people in line. We saw people we knew, of course, with both of us being teachers. It was amazing to see the diversity of the crowd, and even more amazing to see the size of the crowd since Ralph Nader was also on campus at the same time, and former President Bill Clinton was in town speaking less than 3 miles away. Talk about tough competition!
Mr. Wiesel, a gentle, softspoken man, delivered a strong message about racism and religous fanatacism, tempered with humor. Best known for surviving the concentration camps during the holocaust, he made little mention of his time there. Instead, he spoke of his feeling shame when encountering the discrimination of black people in the southern states of America during the 1950's, and how amazing it is now to have an African-American candidate for President! A summary of his lecture can be read here. Afterward, given our close proximity to the stage, Bill, younger kid, and I were all able to get our books autographed by a very gracious Mr. Wiesel.
I found it hard to sleep last night, with his words bouncing around in my head, and decided that today would be a good day for my Absent-Minded Professor to read "Night." He has a day off because of teacher work day and is home from school. During the trip to Washington DC in June, we will be visiting the United States Holocaust Museum and the book will give him a good idea of what happened to the Jewish people during that time.
So tell me, what book(s) moves you? What author would you feel compelled to hear speak if he/she were coming close to your home?