What Are You Reading? Anne Orsi

I am a lawyer and the president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, a group that promotes science literacy, humanism, and the separation of church and state. I organize the Freethinkers’ monthly lecture and discussion series on topics of social justice, philosophy, humanism, science, and current events.

History is one of my passions, and I am pleased to serve on the boards of Little Rock’s Mount Holly Cemetery and the Historic Arkansas Museum Foundation. I spend my non-work time traveling, gardening, sewing, writing, researching my family’s genealogy, and – of course – reading.

What are you reading at the moment or what is next on your list?

Right now I’m devouring the eighth book in the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey. The first book in the series is Leviathan Wakes. It’s a thrilling, can’t-put-down, mind-bending space opera. Prime Video is adapting it for television.

Last week I enjoyed a social-distancing college reunion with a handful of friends by video, and we all talked about our recent reads. The group of us are on both coasts as well as in the middle of the country. Based on the enthusiastic recommendations of three of these friends, my next book will be Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, which addresses the brutal inequity of America’s criminal justice system.

What role has reading played in your life?

I grew up in Des Arc in Prairie County, where the elementary school’s librarian, Elsie Johnson Minton, influenced me more than any other of my early teachers. My mother also took me to the public library every week and bought me two new books for every A on my report card. I was that nerdy kid who hid my novel inside the schoolbook the class was supposed to be reading, and who read books during recess.

I’m always pushing the books I love at people who need to read them. I even keep extra copies of certain books just to have them to give away. Among those are Robert Sapolsky’s A Primate’s Memoir; Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist; Carl Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World; and The Princess Bride. (“S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” really is better than the movie!)

I have two mottos: “She who dies with the most books wins” and “It’s not hoarding if it’s books.” Even with lots of books at home, I still go to the public library a lot – especially for Socrates Café, where we often talk about great books relevant to the evening’s topic.