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Group Read > Gifted Hands ~ November 2014

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Oct 27, 2014 06:14PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments What's this? Book Nook Cafe's Group Read
Read the book then watch the TV movie (see link below)
Discuss the book & movie with the rest of the group.

Book: Gifted Hands The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

When: The discussion will begin November 1, 2014. You don't have to have read the book by that date, just start reading and discussing it on that date.

Where: The discussion will take place in this thread.

Spoiler etiquette: There are 22 chapters. Please put the chapter # at the top of your post.

Book Details:
Book length: a little over 200 pages
Availability: paperbook, eBook, audiobook

Synopsis: In 1987, Dr. Benjamin Carson gained worldwide recognition for his part in the first successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the head. Carson pioneered again in a rare procedure known as a hemispherectomy, giving children without hope a second chance at life through a daring operation in which he literally removes one half of their brain.

Such breakthroughs aren’t unusual for Ben Carson. He’s been beating the odds since he was a child.

Raised in inner-city Detroit by a mother with a third grade education, Ben lacked motivation. He had terrible grades. And a pathological temper threatened to put him in jail.

But Sonya Carson convinced her son he could make something of his life, even though everything around him said otherwise. Trust in God, a relentless belief in his own capabilities, and sheer determination catapulted Ben from failing grades to the directorship of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Gifted Hands takes you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world—and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician who lives to help others.

About the author: Ben Carson Ben Carson
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson Sr. (born September 18, 1951) is an American author and retired neurosurgeon. He is credited with being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular conservative figure in political media for his views on social and political issues, spurring talk of his becoming a Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election.

message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Oct 27, 2014 06:26PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Discussion Questions

Describe Sonya Carson's early life. What values did Sonya Carson teach her sons?

What personal characteristic did Ben have to fight against and in what ways did it manifest itself?

Describe incidents of racial prejudice that Ben had to face and how he coped with them.

What far away country did Ben travel to for his senior residency? How did this event help Ben in his career as a neurosurgeon?

What is the significance of the surgery Ben performs on Maranda Francisco? How did it affect pediatric surgery nation-wide?

How does the role of God and prayer impact Ben's career and life? Provide specific examples.

What does the acronym THINK BIG that Ben uses in his inspirational talks stand for?

Would you recommend this book to others? How would you rate the book?

What did you think of the structure of the book? Did you like the writing style?

Did you find the author's voice appealing or unappealing? Which aspects of the writer's character do you identify with most and least? How does your reaction to the writer affect your experience of the book?

What have you brought away from this story?

what expectations did you bring to the story? Were they fulfilled?

Do you agree or disagree with the ideas or values presented in the work? Why?

message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Oct 27, 2014 06:14PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments TV Movie version of the book

Watch the movie online

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009)

Director: Thomas Carter

Writer: John Pielmeier

Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Kimberly Elise, Aunjanue Ellis

Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys.

message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments I started the book and I'm enjoying it. Reminds me a bit of The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride in that the mother emphasis that education is the way to a brighter future.

What did you think of the poem that Carson quotes in the books opening?
Yourself to Blame

If things go bad for you

And make you a bit ashamed

Often you will find out that

You have yourself to blame

Swiftly we ran to mischief

And then the bad luck came

Why do we fault others?

We have ourselves to blame

Whatever happens to us,

Here is what we say

"Had it not been for so-and-so

Things wouldn't have gone that way."

And if you are short of friends,

I'll tell you what to do

Make an examination,

You'll find the faults in you...

You are the captain of your ship,

So agree with the same

If you travel downward

You have yourself to blame

~~~~ by Mayme White Miller

message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I ordered the book but it isn't here yet. Hopefully sometime next week.

message 6: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments That's cool. In a few days I have to go to my sister's house as she is moving. I don't think there will be internet. So I may be MIA for 3-5 days.

message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments We can wait until you return. I pray that the weather will be beautiful, sunny weather for both you and your sister.

message 8: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 02, 2014 12:06PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Thank you. You can post as your read.

Today in NYC the temps were in the mid 40s with howling sustained winds. My 2 nieces are running in the marathon. I was freezing just waiting for them to go by.

One just finished 04:14:02

message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments WOW -- that's impressive!

message 10: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Thanks. Her sister hurt her knee early in the race and had to walk a lot of it. However, she was determined to finish and she did.

Time 05:26:52

message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Thank you. You can post as your read.

Today in NYC the temps were in the mid 40s with howling sustained winds. My 2 nieces are running in the marathon. I was freezing just waiting for them to..."

Alias, my niece ran in the NYC marathon yesterday, too! She finished in 4:18:41 -- your niece and mine probably ran right past each other! How funny.

message 12: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 03, 2014 04:35PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments :) They were right near each other. She loved it and said she will run it again next year. She is determined to break 4 hours.

With that insane wind that practically knock them over on the Verrazano bridge and was right in their face going up 4th avenue I am sure that added a lot of time to peoples final time.

The medal they get is so cool ! Well deserved, too.

It's a shame as today the weather is perfect for racing.

message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments chapter 4

"Several of mother's friends criticized her strictness. I hear one woman ask, What are you doing to those boys, making them study all the time? They are going to hate you."

This section made me think of President Obama and the story he tells about his mom making him get up early before school to study. When he would complain, she would say, “This is no picnic for me either, Buster.”


I think book would be an excellent choice for young teens to read. It's very motivation and inspirational. I also think a lot of kids could relate to the story.

message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments chapter 5

When Ben is complaining about wearing out of fashion clothes, his mom says, "Bennie, what's inside counts the most. Anybody can dress up on the outside and be dead inside."

This again made me think of the book The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. It would make a terrific companion read.

In The Color of Water the mom says, “I asked her if I was black or white. She replied "You are a human being. Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!”
― James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

Also this one from Angela's Ashes---Frank McCourt
“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
― Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

message 15: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10313 comments Two good quotes, Alias. I'm not reading the book but it sounds inspiring.

message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Thanks, Deb. I'm enjoying the book. It's a quick short read.

message 17: by Carol (last edited Nov 06, 2014 03:45PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I just finished the book, I really enjoyed it.

First I want to say that the mother is amazing! Her "husband" leaves her for his other "wife & kids", so she the only "bread-winner" in this home working multiple jobs. And in order to deal with her depression, without worrying her boys, she sends them to friends so she can get help. For a woman with only a 3rd grade education, she was a smart woman! She made sure her boys would have a great future by guiding them. I also believe that their church was also very supportive. When Ben asked to be baptized a second time in the river, it showed that his maturity grew; and he was now a young man.

I found the surgical procedure stories fascinating. How many doctors pray over a patient before surgery? In my experience of 23 surgeries, no doctor ever prayed over me.

message 18: by Cathy (last edited Nov 06, 2014 04:54PM) (new)

Cathy | 99 comments It looks like Dr. Carson is going to run for president. I haven't been able to participate since going back to work, but I will try to finish the book. I read the kid's version with my students. The movie is good too.
Dr Carson's president promo

message 19: by Carol (last edited Nov 08, 2014 12:19PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Went with my husband to Barnes and Noble this morning, and I saw a 2014 book by Ben Carson and wife Candy, entitled

One Nation What We Can All Do to Save America's Future by Ben Carson One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

message 20: by Cathy (new)

Cathy | 99 comments I finished the book and his story is such an inspiration. It proves the power of reading and how reading is the great equalizer. He will be running for president and I think he'd make a great one. Highly intelligent, calm, humble, faith-filled man who is an unbelievable problem solver and team player. He is a great leader. We read BHO auto and I will have my students read this one too.

message 21: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments I'm back ! I was helping my sister move this past week.

I am on page 138 of 224.

So glad to see everyone is enjoying the book !

message 22: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 14, 2014 07:57AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments chapter 15

When Dr. Carson discusses his reason for not going on the Phil Donahue show, I thought, my how things have changed. Now we have the TV show The Doctors and of course Dr. Oz.

I recall reading one article on Dr. Oz and how doctors were concerned about his focus not being 100% on surgery now that he is a Big Celebrity.

EDIT-- forgot to link the article !

message 23: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 13, 2014 03:26PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Chapter 15

I teared up reading Maranda's story.

I found the discussion on plasticity fascinating. Though I am sure medicine has advanced a lot since the publishing of this book in 1990.

message 24: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Chapter 18 Craig & Susan

Next time I want to feel sorry for myself I need to remember Craig. He is the poor man with the reoccurring brain tumors. I've never heard of this horrible disease.

message 25: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 17, 2014 05:56PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Would you recommend this book to others? How would you rate the book?

Finished up the book today as I was waiting for my clothes at the Laundromat.

I thought the book was very good. It's an inspiring book that I would recommend to all teens. Even as an adult, I felt it was a very worthwhile read. I am giving it a 4/5 rating.

I am so happy that we selected it.

message 26: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 17, 2014 05:55PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments How does the role of God and prayer impact Ben's career and life? Provide specific examples.
I don't know much about 7 Day Adventists. I wish the book went into a bit more detail as this was a major influence on Carson's life. I do know they are health oriented. The 7th day Adventist in Loma Linda Ca are one of the Blue Zones. (areas of long lived people)

Here is a link to their website.

As to the above question, I think it helped with the daily stress of being a surgeon. When the going got rough, he could put his concerns on God' shoulders instead of bearing the burdon alone.

I think it also gave him confidence to try and reach for what others would say was the impossible.

Additionally, the fellowship of the church helped his stress and was simply a very nice enjoyable part of his life.

message 27: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 17, 2014 05:59PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments What did you think of the structure of the book? Did you like the writing style?
Yes, I liked the structure of the book. I liked that the chapters weren't too long. That's always a plus when reading on the subway. ;)

The writing style was a bit simplistic. However, it did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. Though I did take away one point when I rated it. I thought it could have gone into more depth, too.

message 28: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments what expectations did you bring to the story? Were they fulfilled?
I think they were mostly filled. I wish the story went into a bit more depth.

message 29: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 17, 2014 06:09PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Do you agree or disagree with the ideas or values presented in the work? Why?
I mostly agree with the values presented in the book.

I liked the when he went to the Old Court Middle School and they were following his mom's rule about no more than 3 TV programs a week and reading 2 books a week. I think more people should follow this rule. Since this book was written in 1990, I would also add video games and internet use.

I would just add, that not everyone can overcome the devastating poverty and prejudice that Dr. Carson did. And I wouldn't fault them. Very few can overcome such circumstances. Many inner city schools are horrible. One need only read The Shame of the Nation The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by one of my favorite authors Jonathan Kozol

message 30: by Cathy (last edited Nov 18, 2014 12:32AM) (new)

Cathy | 99 comments Read One Vote Make Your Vote Heard by Ben Carson One Vote: Make Your Vote Heard during the election cycle and it was excellent ( get a free download version from his website) and I just finished One Nation What We Can All Do to Save America's Future by Ben Carson One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future. What a refreshing difference from Audacity of Hope and Dreams From My Father. Students should read both and compare and contrast.

message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments I enjoyed Dreams from my Father. As I recall, it provided a very good discussion. It was a Group read here. If I recall correctly, we selected it before the president was in the run for the presidency. A very prescient selection on our groups part ! :)

I don't agree with Carson's politics. And I am not in the mood for politics at the moment so I'll probably skip his other books for now.

Thanks though for the post, Cathy. I didn't know Carson had a website. I'll have to check it out.

message 32: by Amy (last edited Nov 19, 2014 04:45PM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments I enjoyed "Dreams From My Father" as well. I thought it was very well written.

message 33: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments Dreams From My Father informed me that he had once lived two blocks from me in Manhattan. I have often wondered if we passed each other on the way to the subway.

message 34: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Six degrees of separation, Barbara. :)

message 35: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 21, 2014 05:30AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments I thought this article about a new study of childrens reading habits was interesting.

I am posting it here to compare it to Dr. Carson's "rule" about reading one book a week. Sad to see so many falling so far short.

"• On average, students read the most books in grades 2 and 3 (about 57 and 51 per year, respectively), and the fewest in grades 11 and 12 (about 5 per year in each). "

Here is another article on the same reading report.

"American students are reading more nonfiction, but not as much as Common Core standards recommend, and their reading tends to be far less challenging than it should be to prepare them for college or careers."

message 36: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Thanks for posting those. Just at first glance, I find it interesting that they can use number of books read to compare a 2-3rd grader with an 11-12th grader. I would think that an 11-12th grader would be reading something that takes a bit more time to digest than Green Eggs and Ham (with all due respect to Dr. Seuss). I'm also curious about whether the reading counts include items read for school or only extra curricular, which could skew numbers for an older student with more course work / less free time.

message 37: by Alias Reader (last edited Nov 21, 2014 10:44AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Emma, I'm not a reading teacher, but I do think they take into account the length of words, complexity etc. The article mentions ATOS. "The report also tracks complexity, measuring how challenging books are with the so-called ATOS formula. New standards have specified that reading should rise in complexity as students get older to prepare them for the more complex reading they're likely to encounter in college or careers. But by the end of high school, the average complexity of the books that 12th-graders are reading is 5.2 on the ATOS scale – a far cry from what standards say they should be reading – between 9.7 and 14.1 for high school – and far lower than the complexity of the average New York Times article (10.6) or college textbook (13.8)."

Some use Lexile. I know Barnes and Noble uses Lexile to help find appropriate reading levels. You can also find Lexile book lists online. Here is the B&N calculator and recommendations based on Lexile.

Scholastic lets you put in the title and get the Lexile score.

From the article I can't tell if it is assigned reading, combination assigned and pleasure that they are counting to get the total books read by students.

message 38: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments We live in a city. The elementary school, where my children attended, also had difficulties reading especially for young children, grades 2 through 5. I was a volunteer at the library (lack of funding) so I got other "stay-at-home" moms to come in and help these children with their reading. I worked with two young kids who walked to school in the bitter cold weather with snow on the ground, wearing shoes that were too big, with no socks. Met the mom later, she was only 16 yrs. old, living in low income housing. Every child should have a parent/ friend/ or sponsor to help them. My parents (seniors) volunteered in their town with a 3rd grade girl to read to her along with other seniors.

message 39: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments Carol wrote: wearing shoes that were too big, with no socks. Met the mom later, she was only 16 yrs..."

:( So sad. Thank heaven for the volunteers.

message 40: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments C-SPAN 2 Book TV

Friday, November 28th
2pm (ET)
Approx. 59 min.
After Words: Dr. Ben Carson, "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future," hosted by Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director

message 41: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Six degrees of separation, Barbara. :)"

For sure!!

message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17705 comments From Publisher's Weekly---

Ben Carson Apologizes for Plagiarism

In the wake of accusations of plagiarism by Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson in his bestseller America the Beautiful, Carson’s publisher, Zondervan, has issued a statement confirming the accusations, and Carson himself has apologized.

A story posted by BuzzFeed on January 6 brought the situation to light, asserting that a number of sections of Carson’s 2012 book "were plagiarized from various sources.” BuzzFeed noted that although Carson often cited the works he plagiarized in his end notes, he made "no effort to indicate that not just the source, but the words themselves, had been taken from different authors.”

The Buzzfeed article, which was picked up by various outlets, compared lengthy passages from America the Beautiful with material from books by other authors, as well as from a variety of news reports and several websites.

In response to the accusations, Zondervan released this statement on Thursday: “It has become apparent that further source citation is appropriate in Dr. Carson’s America the Beautiful. Any necessary updates will be made in subsequent printings.”

Additionally, Carson himself issued this apology: “I attempted to appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources in America the Beautiful, but inadvertently missed some. I apologize, and I am working with my editors to rectify the situation."

America the Beautiful sold modestly after its release in 2012, but got a big boost when Carson spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. After a YouTube video of the speech went viral, the book sold 46,000 copies in six weeks, the New York Times reported. According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks 80% of print sales, the trade paperback edition has sold, to date, about 284,000 copies.

BuzzFeed’s article compared its accusations against Carson to its 2013 story asserting that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had plagiarized passages of Government Bullies (Center Street/Hachette); BuzzFeed noted that Paul's book "was eventually updated to include attribution.”

Conservative historian William Federer, whose America’s God and Country is one of the books Carson allegedly plagiarized, has come to Carson's defense. In a letter sent to Carson, and released by Carson’s attorney and literary agent Sealy Yates, Federer wrote, "I was dismayed when I read a BuzzFeed article… and saw how the [Buzzfeed] author attempted to use my words in a subtly-crafted attack on Dr. Ben Carson's character by accusing him of plagiarism.”

Carson and Federer met while serving together on the board of Regent University, and in his letter Federer emphasized that he gave Carson permission to use any material he wanted. Federer wrote: “I feel grossly misrepresented in the BuzzFeed article. Errata is not plagiarism. Any missing attributions were simply editor's oversight.”

The BuzzFeed article also quoted Carson from America the Beautiful about being caught plagiarizing in college: “During my research for one of the papers in an advanced psychology course, I found some passages that seemed particularly appropriate, and I included them in my writing. I did not, however, indicate that this was the work of someone else; frankly, I had never even heard of the term plagiarism."

America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great

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