2018-06-28 / Editorial

Great American Read is here in Biddeford

Library Links
By Melanie Taylor Coombs
Special to the Courier

In 1999, I made a big move from southern Maine to Farmington – a new home, new community, no friends and Y2K looming only weeks away.

The new yard was filled with a thick wall of overgrown lilac trees sorely in need of pruning. Although it was very late in the season, I donned leather gloves, a thick jacket and headphones attached to a Sony Walkman.

Then I set off to tackle trimming the trees. For those of you who don’t remember the Sony Walkman, it was like a giant iPod that played cassette tapes and ate AA batteries. The first tape I loaded was the audiobook of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” read by Jim Dale. From the moment I began listening I was enthralled.

Most people who have been in similar situations, alone and new to a community of strangers, can relate to Harry Potter, who was alone and new to the wizarding world. Of course, like millions of people worldwide, I am a fan of J.K. Rowling and the world she created. Since my lilac pruning days, I have reread the Harry Potter series many times.

Each time my experience with the books is a slightly different and dependent on where I am in my life. But, out of all the books I’ve read, would this series be my favorite?

That is the question posed by this summer’s PBS series, “The Great American Read.” Over breakfast recently, a friend and I went through the entire list tabulating which books we had read.

We were both somewhere between 60 and 70 of the 100 titles. Interestingly, there was one book I was completely unfamiliar with, and that is rare, indeed, given my profession. The book is a translation by Larry McMurtry of the work by Romulo Gallegos called “Dona Barbara.” Clearly, voters love this book or it never would have ended up in the top 100.

The Great American Read list is very unique for several reasons. The titles were selected by readers, not by literature experts. American and international authors are represented on the list.

Young adult, children’s and adult books are on the list. Mysteries, fantasy, science fiction and a variety of other genres have also made the top 100. Overall, there is a lot to talk about.

As part of the summer long program, libraries could apply to be adopted by Maine Public. Good news, McArthur Library was adopted. That means we will receive multiple copies of our chosen book to support a local book discussion. After much consideration, our staff selected “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. We felt that reading in the summer should be a family experience. We wanted to select a book that would appeal to multiple ages. So, parents, teens and anyone else who wants to join us, please come in at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 2 to discuss “Ready Player One.”

In the meantime, please take a few moments to vote for your favorite book at www.pbs.org/the-great-americanread/ vote/. There are a lot of great choices, including, “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien, and of course, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Please stop by the library to check out all these great titles and join us for our all ages Summer Learning Program.

Melanie Taylor Coombs is adult services supervisor/librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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