Welcome to “The Great Jackson County Read”
Will you join us in finding Jackson and Macon County’s Best-Loved Book?
Summer is quickly approaching. College graduation has happened, the flowers are blooming- my sinuses have alerted me fully to their beautiful presence- and the kiddos are almost done with school, even with all the days tacked on at the end of the year. If you’re like me, your book list has grown throughout the year and the summer season is a great time to start checking them off the list. This summer all across the nation people are joining book discussions surrounding a PBS special called, “The Great American Read,” Maybe you’ve heard about it? Meredith Vieira will be the host of this eight-part series, a collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA). The goal is to promote lifelong literacy and find America’s Best-Loved Book in the process. The series has started with a two-hour program on Tuesday, May 22nd (for those of you reading this blog on the day that it is released, yes that was yesterday). The series will take a short break and then come back in the beginning of September to run the bulk of the shows, culminating in the final episode and the reveal of America’s Best-Loved Book — as voted by the nation— in October.
At the Jackson County Public Library we are holding an adult summer reading program in conjunction with the PBS special entitled, “The Great Jackson County Read.” Participants will use the 100-book list curated by PBS (through national polling and finalized by a board of literary professionals) to choose books to read or reread. Each book read will count towards prizes here at the library with one Grand Prize to the person who reads the most books through the summer! I am writing from the Jackson County Public Library, hence the focus on that library branch. There are similar adult reading programs that are taking place at the Hudson and Macon branches as well, so please contact those libraries to join up.
We encourage local residents to join in our open book discussions online and in person. We have started a facebook group, The Great Jackson County Read – might as well follow our facebook page, too https://www.facebook.com/JacksonCoPL/– to facilitate a book discussion you can join from the comfort of your own home. In The Great Jackson County Read group we hope that you will engage with other local readers in a positive discussion on: the books that you are reading, those that have made an impact on you one way or another and look for or give book suggestions to the fellow followers. For those who like the analog life better- we all need a touch of it on a daily basis- please join us at 3 pm on the 28th of June, July and August, at City Lights Bookstore for live book discussions. Please also visit City Lights and the Friends of the Library Used bookstore to find your very own copies of the 100 books! (Shameless plug for our lovely local partners.)
I hope that you will join me in our summer reading program and help us to uncover Jackson County’s Best-Loved Book. Registration for the adult summer reading program, “The Great Jackson County Read” as well as the adult summer reading programs at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin and the Hudson Library in Highlands started on Tuesday, May 22nd and will continue until Tuesday, August 21st. If you’re looking to win the Grand Prize, join up soon for your best chances. At the end of the program we will be able to compare our results to the national results. Remember to follow our local online book discussion, join us in person at City Lights, and watch the national PBS program on our local UNCTV. See you in the stacks!
To the books, I plan on revisiting some books that touched me as a kid or a teenager. My first love was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I definitely thought that was “some pig.” I lived on a small farm in Wisconsin when I was a young girl (so cliche, I know) and had a huge love of all animals, which really drew me to this book initially. With each successive reading, though I knew what was coming, I never escaped without crying. We will see if I can avoid the same fate as an adult.
Another novel that I would like to revisit on this ride to find Jackson County’s Best-Loved Book is The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton. This book was one of those required reading books in our high school, I believe it was in my freshman year–they get a little hazy the further away those years become. By this point in my life I loved reading but I hated being told what to read, just like anything else in life in those heated teenage years. At first I wanted nothing to do with this book, I mean what did it know about my rough (um, right) life? No one understood. With all of my dismay and angst, I read, soon finding out that I felt very attached to this book. These were characters I could understand. I had often felt like an outsider myself; we had moved around and my family structure had shifted several times in my life. Nothing felt permanent. I could relate to the greasers and their life of fighting those who had it all. I looked into S.E. Hinton and the writing of The Outsiders for this blog and was very interested to find out that she was only 15 years old when she started writing this classic novel. It was published by Viking Press when she was just 18 years old. Not that surprising when I thought about how the novel connects to teenage emotion in such a real and profound way; no adult could have captured the raw emotion of teenage life. It will be interesting to see which character grabs my attention this read around and how I view the life situations that they are in. Will I remember that feeling of teenage rebellion?
I found when I was looking at the 100 list that there are a lot of books that have been
languishing on my own to read list, some for a decade or more. I figure it’s time to start knocking them off. The first book I am listening to is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I have just started this audiobook yet it reminds me of another book on the list, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The similarity–thus far–lays with the two main characters, Ignatius J. Reilly from Confederacy and Captain John Yossarian from Catch 22. Where Ignatius is bumbling through life in his pretentious manner in New Orleans, Captain Yossarian is escaping duty in a fictional location during WWII. We will see if the similarities continue as I get further along.
I became so excited about this summer reading program that I started putting way too many e-Books on hold last week and had to rein myself in. There is only so much time in the day to read, though I often wish there was more. Overdrive,also known as Libby is our eBook resource here at the FRL system, allowing you to read eBooks from our e-iNC collection. With the magic of your library card you have access to thousands of books to check out on your electronic devices, much like you would with a physical book. The opening book list on Overdrive is the books that are available to FRL patrons off of the 100 list curated by PBS — be prepared to wait, as some of the novels have fairly long waitlists.
The first on my hold list arrived to my i-Pad this week, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo I didn’t expect it this soon but here it is, thank you to whomever returned it early! The reviews that I found on The Alchemist are mixed; some people are ardent supporters of the self help style novel, others find it too new-age spiritual with the message of “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I will wait and see how this book affects me personally. Through the reviews that I have read The Alchemist reminds me of books like The Celestine Prophecy series that I loved dearly in my early 20’s. Though I have to admit I have changed since that time, I have grown a little more cynical, with some of the romantic notions of youth being replaced by the realities of the World. There are many more books on my radar before the summer reading session is over, and I am very excited to be a part of our local conversation and the larger national one as well.
What books are you looking forward to reading?