For most of 2013 I have been knee deep in helping organize Salina’s first community-wide read. During the first few months a committee of a dozen avid readers met to suggest books worthy of such a program and debated the pros and cons of each. We guessed what the community would like…or not like… in a book that would be read by most everyone. Tough job? You bet! Eventually, we narrowed the long list down to four titles. How did we pick just one? We read all four books, and then discussed them just as we would at a typical book discussion group. All four books were good and had their merits, but our selection criteria dictated that the Salina Reads book be universal in its appeal, and that it lend itself fairly easily to programming. In the end the unanimous winner was “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon.
What we saw, as a group, in the book that made it a winner was its unique perspective. The story is told from the point of view of a teenager with autism, and the committee felt that this was a learning opportunity for the community to experience the autistic mind. We also liked that the book read quickly and easily, and that it explored family dynamics and how that changes when hidden truths are discovered. It’s also a mystery story, so the element of intrigue was introduced to the mix. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the action takes place in England, so there’s some British terminology to get acquainted with, as well as getting a taste of a culture different from our own.
As the first Salina Reads nears its start, I’m struck by how many people in Salina have already told me what a good idea this is, and how unifying this type of program is. There aren’t many things, in today’s world, that we can sit down and discuss and voice our opinions about without taking sides. This book is something that CAN be discussed in groups where all opinions are welcome, and even encouraged. It’s a safe place. And Salina Reads just might bring people together to experience something that is new and interesting and fun and educational, all at the same time.
You can find our more here. I invite you to be a part of it.
Lori Berezovsky is the library’s outreach coordinator.