The notion of a common book has been around for many years. The idea is to take a book of common interest and value to a community, read it, and have a discussion. I’ve been involved a couple times professionally. Once it was Robert Preston’s 1994 The Hot Zone: a Terrifying True Story, which was about the Ebola virus. It is a non-fiction thriller that has an eerie ending imagining how eventually an airborne virus is the end of humanity, but earth is nonetheless thriving without us.
Students from a variety of disciplines read this book in their college classes. Students in medical areas, biology, sociology, psychology, English, and so on discussed it from multiple perspectives. (I highly recommend the book, by the way. It is relevant these days and always was.)
The second time, the book was The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown – and I see that was twenty years ago. In this version, there was a faculty round table consisting of professors from a bunch of disciplines – history, a priest was invited, criminal justice, math, and so on. I represented literature. The discussion was open to the public. It is enlightening and fun to discuss books, as we know, in diverse groups to get those different points of view. This is why we love book clubs, and why our library Books for Lunch club has thrived for a decade.
The Great Michigan Read is sponsored by The Michigan Humanities, the National Endowment of the Humanities, the MSU Credit Union, Meijer, and others, and our common book discussion is in March.
The book is Mary Doria Russell’s The Women of the Copper Country that focuses on the mining industry and the early labor movement in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The library has plenty of copies assuming that many of us would enjoy being part of this. The discussion will be held March 10 from 5:30 – 6:45 at the library. We encourage you to join in. In the next five weeks, everyone interested can manage to read it. (Of course, if time gets away from you but this is of interest, come to the discussion anyway and see what people have to say about it.)
The Women of the Copper Country falls into the genre of historical fiction and, as many historical fiction novels do, it takes a solid and detailed look at an historical moment and uses as its focus a different point of view than we might have seen before – in this case, women’s lives and their role in labor movements. Reviews have been enthusiastic.
But meantime, we have February, the month of love. Library staff member Michelle is working on the Valentine’s book display. This year the focus is on a game for patrons! All participating library staff members (including yours truly) have identified one particular book that they love. The idea is to match the names of the staffers with which book they picked. I think you’ll find mine easy if you are a regular column reader. And if you are used to getting book recommendations from staff at the library – who are so good at matching readers with books they enjoy – you may do well at this game. There’s a prize attached to add a little interest.
So, come in soon and explore the library’s featured Valentine’s books and pick up your copy of The Women of the Copper Country to get ready for the March 10 read. Nothing to lose here and a lot of good reading and fun to gain.
See you at the Library!