Landmark Kicks off LD Book Club With “Look Me in the Eye”
“In the past, when people criticized me for asking unexpected questions, I felt ashamed. Now I realize that normal people are acting in a superficial and often false manner. So rather than let them make me feel bad, I express my annoyance. It’s my way of trying to strike a blow for logic and rationality.” – from “Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s,” by John Elder Robison
by Jennifer Lann
The LD Book Club is an informal opportunity for Landmark College students, faculty, and staff to read a book about learning differences and to discuss it together over lunch or breakfast once a semester. This is the book club's first semester, and its first meeting will be during breakfast in the large Dining Hall conference room on Thursday, November 7th from 8-9 a.m. and over lunch on Friday, November 8th, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 12:30-1:30 p.m. The inaugural book is the memoir, Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's, by John Elder Robison. Director of Library Services and motivating book club coordinator Jennifer Lann will facilitate discussions about the book, and she hopes to find other facilitators for future books.
Reading and discussion has a long history at the College, which has supported many inquiry groups in which participants read research articles and theoretical essays. This is the first time a group will get together over a book that is intended to be fun and engaging. President’s Council in collaboration with Jennifer Lann and the Library polled faculty and staff for book ideas. While recommendations were sought for any book about a learning difference, nearly every book suggested was a memoir.
Look Me in the Eye was favored by multiple people as an accessible and inspiring account of one man's experience with Asperger's. Author, activist, and owner of a high-end car dealership, Robison is known for his diverse talents. Robison’s website offers the following quote: “The autism community knows me as a vocal and enthusiastic advocate for research and policy to improve the lives of autistic people. In other circles I am recognized for my photography; the automobile company I founded; and the electronic music creations of my youth—including special effects for Pink Floyd’s sound company and custom guitars for the band KISS.” He is the author of two other books, Be Different and Raising Cubby, both first-hand, insightful accounts of living with Asperger’s syndrome.
A good book can serve as both a magnifying glass and a mirror, allowing detailed exploration of a topic and showing readers aspects of themselves or their worlds that they had not previously put into words. Memoirs can be particularly effective at conveying what matters in a lasting way. As such, they're also ripe for meaningful discussion. The following shortlisted memoirs may come up next semester:
- My Dyslexia, by Philip Shultz
- Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant: A Memoir, by Daniel Tammet
- The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband, by David Finch
In keeping with the mission of Landmark College, the Library owns an unusually extensive collection of books on learning disabilities, attention disorders, and autism spectrum disorder. The LD Book Club is a fun new way for community members to access and share this special collection. Discussions on November 7th and 8th will center on the response of the readers, who will be encouraged to share what resonated with them, surprised them, and added to their knowledge.
Newcomers to the book club may be wondering how to participate if they have not read the book yet. Anyone from the community who is curious or has something to say about the subject of Look Me in the Eye, whether he or she has read it or not, is invited to the book club discussions. Those who want to get a copy are encouraged to check out a print or audio copy at the Landmark College Library or local town library, purchase a Kindle or other digital version from Amazon, or visit the Landmark College Bookstore which stocked up on copies for the event.
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.