For a long time, we have wanted to hold a One City/One Book event. These have been popular in many American cities over the past ten or fifteen years, and many library users have suggested that we have one. We are finally doing it this October, and the book will be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. There were several reasons we chose this book, but before discussing them, first, a little history.
We almost did the One City/One Book event last year. But I kept asking people what book we should do. Between book discussion group attendees, staff members, and others, I probably asked around forty people for book suggestions. I got about thirty-eight different suggestions. While there were many good suggestions, there was almost no consensus on what book to read. In the end, I just picked a book, so I guess that I should not say ‘we chose this book.’ Fact is, I chose this book.
Tom Sawyer is a perennial favorite. It has never been out of print since it was published in 1876. It is full of famous scenes, like painting the fence, the murder in the graveyard, Tom and Huck walking into their own funeral, and Tom and Becky getting lost in the cave. It has many colorful characters. And it also has quite a lot of Mark Twain’s brand of folksy humor throughout. I just read it for at least the third time, and was surprised at how fun it was. Of course, being a book written in mid-nineteenth century America, it has some language and ideas–particularly dealing with race–that challenge our modern sensibilities. But these can also lead to interesting and productive discussions.
During October we will hold two book discussions, have a lecture from a professor at Webster University, an art contest, a movie showing, a read-a-thon, and even a costume reception. A full calendar of events is at our Website, and is also posted in the library. We have plenty of copies of the book, so check one out soon and join in the October fun!