NMU Involved in ‘One Book, One Community’


In 1998, the Washington Center for the Book created “One Book, One Community”—a reading program that focuses on bringing people of all ages who live in the same city or county together by reading and discussing the same book. Since then, the program has been adopted by all 50 states as well as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Within Michigan, more than 15 cities and counties currently participate in the program, including Marquette.


Sue Szczepanski (School of Education) said the goals for Marquette’s chapter are to foster a sense of community by bringing NMU and Marquette County readers together, as well as to introduce new NMU students to the community through a common book.


“When I was at Michigan State University last fall, I noticed posters for a visit from the author of The Kite Runner,” she said. “All of my daughter’s friends who were freshmen at MSU were required to read “The Kite Runner,” and I thought this was a wonderful way to bring new students into university life by reading a common book. I was also interested in how East Lansing was tied to the 'One Book, One Community' project. Finding a positive way to bring our university and Marquette County residents together was my first goal when forming the local committee.”


The committee members are: Szczepanski, Deanna Hemmila (Alumni Relations), Becky Tavernini (Communications and Marketing), Lynn Walden (Disability Services), Ben Hagen (English), Jim Schiffer (English), Phyllis Wong, Dianne Patrick from Snowbound Books, Erin Donovan from BookMARCS Book Club, Cathy Seblonka from the Peter White Public Library, and Suzanne Dees from Superiorland Library Cooperative.


“It’s a great new program and a way to strengthen the ties between NMU and the community,” Tavernini said. “It’s also a way for all of us to share in the discussion of important issues.”


After considering several books and authors, the committee chose The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle as the first book. “This was decided before the immigration issue became front-page news, so we’re anticipating the conversations and debates that this book will initiate,” said Szczepanski.


In addition to book discussions, several community events will be held in conjunction with the program, including a showing of the film A Day without a Mexican, an essay contest, a panel discussion about migrant workers, a live interactive interview with T.C. Boyle, a silent auction and book displays.


The times and meeting places for book discussions will be posted on the program’s future website at www.nmu.edu/onebook.  Questions can be submitted to onebook@nmu.edu. The Tortilla Curtain will be available at the NMU Bookstore, Lydia Olson Library, the Peter White Public Library and other local bookstores.


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Updated: June 21, 2006

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