One Book, One Community
The purpose of Reading Together is to build a stronger community with deeper connections through the common experience of reading the same book and exploring its themes together. When we do that, we engage and learn, not only about ourselves, but more importantly about each other and the world around us.
By experiencing the same book, hearing the author of that work speak right here in Kalamazoo, and delving deeper into the books’ themes, we are able to embrace our similarities and differences from a common point of reference.
Very simply, when we read together, we grow together.
Each year following book selection, a community steering committee develops a wide variety of programs, including films, concerts, exhibits, expert presentations, author visits, and more. Five weeks of events culminate with a visit by the Reading Together author during National Library Week.
In 2014, Reading Together welcomed two authors; Brooklyn-based writer Tracie McMillan, author of the New York Times bestseller, The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, and Novella Carpenter, author of the best-selling memoir, Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer.
Earlier Reading Together highlights include a 2013 visit from former New York Times reporter and award winning writer Amy Waldman (author of The Submission), a 2012 appearance by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Latino Literature Hall of Fame member Luis Alberto Urrea (author of Into the Beautiful North), and a 2011 visit by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder, with special guests Deogratias (Deo) Niyizonkiza, the focus of Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, and Dziwe Ntaba, co-founder with Deo of Village Health Works. Novelist David Guterson visited Kalamazoo in 2010, Rick Bragg talked with the community in 2009, Tim O’Brien met with dozens of armed forces veterans at the Air Zoo in 2006, and James McBride gave a special performance with his jazz band at First Baptist Church in 2005.