Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.


Amazon Prime Video has released a series based on stories by Philip K. Dick. It's called Electric Dreams.
Click here to see the trailer for Stephen Spielberg's Ready Player One, currently scheduled to debut March 30th. Look for the DeLorean. (Hint-it's moving quickly and is black and you're more likely to find it if you watch one of the explanatory videos that elaborates on the trailer.) If you want to, stay on the YouTube page and see lots more about Ready Player One. After all, it's a movie about the native online generation.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Literal Summary of Our Discussion of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Marcia – The parents made me angry.

Linda – Kids like that are very difficult. Stressful, especially on the parents’ marriage.

Ken – The author did well because you could feel the parental anger. (Ken worked with autistic kids. One had high IQ, so they made him the wizard in Wizard of Oz production.)

Lydia – Most British people don’t curse as much as in the book. The level of education of neighbors etc in the book was evidently low.

Cindy T. At the Zach Theater production, the lead was hearing-impaired, and there was lots of cursing (not necessarily related to the hearing impairment).

Linda – The author captured the boy’s voice; the reader was able to get into his head. The colors and Christopher’s interpreting them as indicating a bad or good day is typical of autism.  Autism is a spectrum, people can have just 1 or 2 aspects.

Judy – Christopher chose behaviors that gave him comfort.

Joanne – 1% of kids are different.

Kathy – Recommends The Good Dr.

The Good Doctor is a very popular show on TV is about a doctor who has autism. There was an episode recently about a teenaged patient who had autism; in this case, they used an actor who really did have autism. On the show, the patient’s parents did not want the autistic doctor to operate on their son, thus showing a parental lack of trust of autistic persons.

Joanne – The book reminded her of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Lydia –Christopher’s dad killed the dog because of his anger that Christopher’s mother was dating the man who owned the dog.

Ken – Christopher’s father was drinking Scotch, and Christopher approached and saw that his Dad was sad and asked whether it was because of the dog’s death. Father said, “You could say that.”

Cindy T. – These kids can be difficult.

Ken – Christopher’s theology is a little weird – he thought people might want to keep living and don’t like the idea of others moving into their homes and putting their stuff into the trash.

Joyce Z. noted that communities have various ways to deal with autistic kids. This set off a tangent about autistic kids and various laws involved with community/state support, and group homes.

Cindy T – The play at Zach Theater was in some parts word-for-word from the book.

Joanne – Someone was reading Christopher’s words on the stage.

Carla – Christopher’s school catered to the lowest level.

Linda – Mentioned she was reminded of the Doc Martin show on TV; that doctor also had no filters in expressing his feelings and thoughts.

Joanne – Many scientists have Asperger’s. Christopher would fit in. Temple Grandin works with large animals and has opened our eyes to what’s inside these people.

Joyce M. asked us to consider what might be likely for the future of a kid like Christopher.

Pam – The way Christopher was portrayed, he could do OK in a university. Challenges in young life prepared him.

Joyce – He had internalized some of the helping ideas he had received from his teachers, including some ways to control one’s environment. Sees promise of him being functional.
Ken expressed concern about when Christopher would have meltdowns as he grew older, as these seemed somewhat inevitable.

Joanne – He got to London, thus indicating a lot of coping and succeeding.

Marcia – He hit the police officer. This kind of behavior could get him tazered and/or arrested.

Joyce M. – A child’s acting out gets moderated with age. There is hope for Christopher.

Pam – In childhood, Christopher had a lot of heartache. Pam didn’t think that it was realistic that the mother who left for 2 years would come back. Christopher’s life didn’t seem secure.  His parents weren’t going to be dependable.

Joanne – The parents might have had some redemption if Christopher’s mother had moved back in with her husband.

Marcia – It would be very difficult for an autistic kid to experience the way his father lied about his mother’s running off with the neighbor, leading Christopher to believe his mother had died.

Lydia – Christopher’s mother showed her lack of understanding of Christopher’s needs when she took him to overwhelming place to buy some clothes for him. A small store with few customers and few choices of clothing would have been much more comfortable for Christopher.

Linda – Parents of disabled kids often get into groups together. Literate parents read a lot and use every bit of information and resources they can.

Claudia – It seemed the author had researched autistic personalities well. Christopher could be a composite of various autistic problems and behaviors the author read about.

Joanne – The author said he didn’t do research.

Carla – People who have Asperger’s and work with computers have been successful during the recent generation(s) during the recent high-tech time. These people have had more children than they might have during a less computer-saturated time, and there have been more of kids born with spectrum disorders.

Joyce – Some tech industry hiring Asperger’s people to work, not as charity but because they are good at that kind of work.

Joanne – Christopher’s teacher was important, perhaps moreso than his parents.
Christopher might regress when he is on his own without that teacher and similar support.

Joyce mentioned an article about 8-year old who screamed constantly on an airplane.

Marcia – How much of syndrome is caused by bad parenting?

Joyce M. – You can create a badly behaved kid by genetics or parenting. Many think vaccinations cause autism. If the disorders are across a spectrum, maybe there are different causes for different aspects.

Carla and Marcia both said and agreed that everyone has some autistic characteristics and behaviors. It might be so slight that you don't notice it until you realize that you have some idiosyncrasy that, even though it doesn't make you fully autistic or wouldn't be diagnosed that way, it is on the autism spectrum.

Marcia – Causes could be allergies, gluten etc.

There was some discussion of the math problem that was described in detail in the book.

Claudia – This was my second reading of the book. I found long descriptions of thought processes a little boring but had enjoyed all of the book a lot originally.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Beef Bourguignon Recipe

The Beef Bourguignon:
3-4 tblsps olive oil
Just enough all-purpose flour to coat the meat
10oz bacon lardons (can't remember where I found those, possibly HEB.  If I hadn't found them, I would have used bacon, cut into small pieces.)
3lb 5oz chuck steak, cut into bite-sized cubes
3 cups red wine (full-bodied)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced, or dried, can use more if you like garlic
2 tblsps tomato paste
1 cup strong beef stock
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 bouquet garni, or any herbs you have, I tossed in about 3 tblsps dried herb seasoning
Salt & pepper

14oz button mushrooms
3-4 shallots or 2 onions
4 tblsps butter 
I bunch flat parsley

Fry the bacon lardons and put aside.  Add salt & pepper to the flour and coat the meat in it, either on a big plate or by shaking meat & flour in a gallon plastic bag.  Heat the olive oil and fry the flour-coated meat in it, in several batches, adding more oil if necessary.

Put the meat and the lardons into a crockpot/casserole, scraping the frying pan for any stuck bits.  Stir in the red wine, a third at a time, then add the garlic, tomato paste, beef stock, carrots, herbs and a few grinds/1 tsp of black pepper.  In a crockpot put setting on 'high', until you see liquid is boiling then change to 'low' for about 3 hours.  In a casserole, cook at 325° for 3 hours.

Meanwhile, chop the shallots/onions and fry in the butter and add the mushrooms, frying until browned.  Taste the meat, give it another 1/2 hr if necssary.  15 minutes before the end of cooking time, stir in the shallots/onions and mushrooms.  Stir well, add salt & pepper if necessary, sprinkle with flat parsley before serving.

Thanks to Lydia for giving us this recipe!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mozart in the Jungle Combines Social and Financial History

Mozart in the Jungle, by Blair Tindall, was autobiographical as well as factual. Although some of us had watched the Amazon video serialization of the book, we found that the show was very different from the book. Morna and I both said we were looking for the show’s story when we were reading the book. the main character in the show is a conductor, and there is no such main character in the book; Carla suggested that this character in the show was a composite of numerous conductors and/or other powerful musicians who were in the book.

The author indicates that her personal sex life began in high school, with first one relationship and then another, both with men in who were older than she and in more powerful positions in the musical world they inhabited. Both men took advantage of her in ways that today would be called abusive. One of the men was a teacher almost three times her age. The author tells of numerous short relationships with numerous men over the years. She matured into relationships with men who helped her find musical gigs.

The narrative went back and forth between the author’s personal memories and factual presentations of financial needs of orchestras and how orchestras changed and evolved over the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the United States and mostly due to the financial situation. We discussed the increasing costs and resulting decreasing numbers of orchestras and performances. There was a lot of focus in the book about patrons of the arts.  Marcia read aloud a section saying people should support the arts. Cindy T. gave an example about someone she knows who plays an annual flute concert; Cindy said there is a preponderance of aged people in the audience. She said her daughter had worked to develop an opera and the whole thing fell through, along with her daughter’s job.

Morna was impressed by Tindall’s explanation of how much baggage went along with the orchestra when they travelled, with the string basses and large brass instruments and all the other instruments requiring special packaging and moving. These costs are tremendous every trip. Cindy V. said Shen Yun, a currently successful traveling show of Chinese dance, has elaborate costumes and brings an entire orchestra with them. Dennis noted that lately the operas have been using a virtual chorus projected on the back curtain. Cindy said that Shen Yun did this, too, instead of transporting the whole chorus everywhere.

We also discussed the status of the arts and the change in opinion wherein the study of music used to be correlated with success but now is not seen this way. The arts are costly and are not being appreciated as much as the artists deserve. The author of the book changed occupations, going to journalism school, where she was encouraged to write this memoir, and evolving into writing a music column for the New York Times. Though it was published in 2005, Mozart in the Jungle continues to have a role in analyzing the history of orchestra and in discussing the arts as an endangered part of culture.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jonathan Haidt, Author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, speaks Jan 31 at SW University - Free

I plan to go.  Would love to sit with others who are going, or even carpool.  Pam  This is part of the 2018 Shilling Lecture Series and will be in the Alma Thomas Fine Arts Center. Tickets may be reserved beginning Monday, January 22.  Click here for more.

The title of Haidt's lecture is: The Age of Outrage: What it is Doing to Our Universities, and Our Country

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Buzz coming January 16: Registration Link is Up!

Looking forward to seeing all of you at Round Rock Public Library for our Book Buzz, Tuesday, January 16!   A Penguin Random House rep will talk up forthcoming titles, and attendees will get those popular canvas book bags (and refreshments, of course!).  You can register here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book/Author List

Claudia -Transcending the levels of consciousness. David R Hawkins
Cindy T - Mr Churchill's Secretary
Joyce M - Glass Castle
Shirley - ​Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory
Carla - Hidden Figures. Radium Girls.  Louise Erdrich many books including Round House.
Jay - David Alexrod-Believer. Nothing to Envy-Barbara Demick.   ​Unbelievable-Katie Tur.   Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
Ken - Mark Twain Jack Kerouac. Underground Railroad. Hillbilly Elegy. ​My Italian Bulldozer
Morna - Breakfast with Buddha
Peggy - Alexander McCall Smith. 
Lydia - Lost City of the Monkey God, Douglas Preston
Joyce Z - White Trash, Isenberg. 
Pam - Jurassic Park, Crichton. Conspiracy of Fools Eichenwald. Armadillo: A Novel William Boyd
Cindy V - Dune. Stephen King. The Stand. 
Jan L - Nicholas Sparks. Stieg Larsson.
Angie - Pearl Buck The Good Earth. Lilac Girls
Dennis The Club Dumas, Arturo Perez Reverte
Scott - Craftsman's encyclopedia from childhood
Priscilla - The Places In Between, Rory Stewart
Marilyn - Brock & Brodie Toehne. Under the Silence is Me, Kimberly Dixon (Marilyn's daughter)
Marcia - Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Get the Holy Ghost, Girl!

On October 16th, Donna M. Johnson, author of Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir, met with us to discuss her memoir. Last night was the most recent time someone mentioned to me that they very much enjoyed our author visit. This has been going on all week! I wish I had counted the number of people who mentioned how much they enjoyed reading Holy Ghost Girl and/or that this was one of our best ever author visits!

Johnson began by reading the prologue of the book aloud. She said that the prologue was the first piece from the book that she submitted for judgment. She entered the prologue into a contest and won! Publishing agents pursued her, and publication was quickly scheduled. The author has some regrets that she didn’t have time to reread and rewrite more. She says the published version is basically a first draft.

Talking about David Terrell’s followers, “Terrellites,” and their individual journeys through life, Donna explained the difficulties faced by anyone who attempts to enter mainstream society from the margins: the poor, those raised in fringe groups similar to the Pentacostal groups, minorities of all kinds and especially those raised to feel alienated from the mainstream. Those who feel like outsiders are drawn to someone, such as Terrell, who offers hope and a sense of belonging. The emotional pull of belonging to a group and forgetting about the more lonely facets of life can be strong. It’s traumatic for anyone who tries to leave the comforts of the group.

Johnson and others who tried to leave suffered various emotional and physical trials. The Pentacostals were taught that their God was punitive and exacting, with random bestowing of grace on souls. Healings were miraculous when they occurred during tent revival meetings, but the excitement and energetic emotion often didn’t last for those who had been healed, once they were home in a more stable and less stimulating environment. Johnson told us of a personal illness that seemed to be healed directly by Brother Terrell, only to reappear 10 years later, when Johnson was an adult and free of daily interaction with the Pentacostal group. She had to struggle to regain and maintain her physical and mental health once she left the group and joined society. And Johnson seems to have been one of the lucky ones among her cohorts, who were not all able to break away successfully from the strong group and who, in many cases, suffer from substance abuse, poverty, and/or inertia. It almost seems like addiction to the Pentacostal group.

Questions posed by members of our Book Club included the following:
Dennis asked whether Johnson had kept any physical items that she felt were magical or otherwise imbued with spiritual energy from the services she had attended or directly from David Terrell. Johnson said that she had not, but that she feels some of the hymns and spirituals deeply embedded into her psyche.

Cheryl asked whether Brother Terrell had shared lucrative donations. This brought a discussion about mentions in the book of Terrell’s eventual wealth and some of his buying of property of various kinds. There were questions from our audience about tax evasion, too. Terrell had a private corporation, which helped with taxes, and he did pay taxes. Johnson said he gave to individuals but didn’t just share all his receipts with the general attendance at meetings.

I asked what the difference was between Pentacostal and Evangelical. Johnson said that the Evangelical movement is more modern and more integrated with society. Evangelical services are more emotional but less weird.

Heather asked whether those who “speak in tongues” can understand each other. Johnson explained that speaking in tongues is considered to be the Holy Spirit speaking through a person, a personal love language to speak with God. Most people are somewhat entranced when speaking or praying this way and don’t really know what they are saying.

Everyone found Holy Ghost Girl fascinating, partly because it’s well-written and partly because of the unusual adventures it describes. We were all grateful that Donna Johnson shared this very personal memoir with us. There was a lengthy line for book signing!