Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Jane Smiley Speaking in Wilmette

Reading a good book? Great. Sharing it with friends and neighbors? Even better.

Wilmette Public Library’s “One Book, Everybody Reads” program turns 10 this year, and is celebrating with its 2015 selection, “Some Luck,” from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley.

The library couldn’t be happier with the program’s success.

“The One Book program has steadily grown since our first experience in 2006,” says Betty Giorgi, the library’s head of adult services. “For the first few author visits, we were filling the library’s auditorium with a capacity crowd of 100 or so community members. Over the years, we have had to move the author program to venues that accommodate three to four times the size of that initial audience.”

The interest is palpable—according to Giorgi, the library has increased the number of copies of the selected title, and the formats it’s available in, from print and large type to audio and e-book versions. And with “Some Luck,” there’s been a consistent waiting list.

Jane Smiley will be in Wilmette on April 26, at 2 p.m. at Wilmette Junior High School, to talk about “Some Luck.” For more information, visit this website.

Thinking about participating? When asked about how to read her book, which is the first in a trilogy, Smiley refused to set parameters.

“I don’t like to prescribe to readers at all,” says Smiley. In the case of “Some Luck,” the book covers the first 35 years or so of a 100-year journey for the Langdon clan, an Iowa farm family. Each chapter covers a single year—and readers become riveted to the story as Walter and Rosanna’s children grow up and venture out on their own. The second in the series, “Early Warning” is expected to be released on April 28.

“I want them to just start and keep going,” Smiley adds. “That’s part of the effect of the structure—one chapter per year being basically equal. I want that structure to build momentum so that (at) the end of volume one they can’t wait to read volume two.”

Giorgi says with each year, there are first-timers to the community read. “They come because that particular year’s author and book resonate with them,” she says. “We try to select books that offer a variety of themes and experiences so that we engage new readers and attract returning readers who will find a new author or subject matter that they may not have selected on their own.”

What’s more, Giorgi says the program’s authors have all been eager to engage.  “All of the authors who have visited through the ‘One Book, Everybody Reads’ series have been eager to interact with the audience,” she says. “The authors spend a part of the time discussing their book, their writing life, and personal experiences that may have impacted their writing and follow with a Q & A portion, which is a big part of the excitement for readers who come to hear an author speak. “

Have 10 years of community reading had a positive effect on the community? Giorgi thinks so.

“The author event, in particular, brings together a group of people who come from different segments of the community,” she says. “For that afternoon, they share an experience that is fueled by imagination both on the part of the author and the audience, the readers. The exchange of ideas and feelings, questions and observations stimulates a discussion that we think continues within the community—(it’s) a ripple effect.”

Have you read “Some Luck”? Get the conversation started now—comment with your questions for the author below.

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