News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
17th January 2010

Lowell Reads….a look back

posted in Books, Local Groups |

Years ago (1999? 2000?), I was part of the group “Lowell Reads”, which was an attempt to have a community-wide book reading, with discussions and related activities. This was part of the One City One Book movement which started in Seattle in the late Nineties. The idea is to “build a sense of community and promote literacy.” As others have noted, these goals may be too ambitious; however, it was a lot of fun planning activities to go along with the book, and there were reading groups at the high school that got some young people involved. Our book was Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, which with its overtones of terrorism and fear juxtaposed with the dreamy, slightly surreal progression of the plot and the beautiful dream that art can change hearts and minds, turned out to be a perfect choice. UML Professors joined in with informative sessions shedding light on some of the book’s themes, and the Lowell Opera Company (no longer active, I fear) performed some of the pieces mentioned in the book, which features a renowned soprano who ends up as one of the hostages. I remember loving the book, but never got around to reading any more by Patchett until I recently picked up Truth and Beauty, her 2004 memoir of a friendship (my review here). This got me wondering why I had never read any of her other novels and also why the attempt to do another citywide book never got off the ground. Part of the problem was choosing a book, then the driving force behind our group, Mary Johnson Lally, Director of the Pollard Memorial Library, retired, and the group just dwindled away from there. Still, the movement persists. Chelmsford has been doing it for a few years and has had some nice events to go along with the books. I went to a Bob Martin concert at the library that I think went along with reading Empire Falls and last year they had an art contest to coincide with their community reading of Three Cups of Tea. I wasn’t able to determine if this is a yearly event or what their book choices have been over the years or how successful it’s been; but I suppose it’s something that might work better in a smaller community. In any case, I’m going to read some more novels by Ann Patchett!

There are currently 6 responses to “Lowell Reads….a look back”

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  1. 1 On January 17th, 2010, C R Krieger said:

    Somewhere out there three Lowell bloggers, since joined by an engineer, formed a book club loosely grouped around military history.  The group meets irregularly.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. 2 On January 19th, 2010, Margaret said:

    So what have some of your book choices been? Just curious.

  3. 3 On January 20th, 2010, Online Degree said:

    I’m tempted to say “what a load of crap!” just for the sake of irony, but I’ll refrain

  4. 4 On January 21st, 2010, C R Krieger said:

    We did a book on Reconstruction Louisiana and a book on the National Security Agency.&nbsp The first was depressing and the second was very interesting.  I think there was a third one in there, but for the life of me I can’t remember the title.  But, you can see our bent.  We haven’t been meeting that long, so our list is short.  At this point we are not leaning toward Chick Lit, if I may say that without offensing anybody..

    Currently we are reading Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World, about WWI and WWII.  It is a rather long book—one blurb saying 800 pages.

    A book like it, but more expensive, is H T (Ned) Willmott’s <When Men Lost Faith in Reason.  I purchased on the Kindle, as there it was “only” $US84 (Ned being a Brit, I have to make that distinction).

    Ned has a “take no prisoners style”.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  5. 5 On January 21st, 2010, C R Krieger said:

    My last offering died or was deleted.

    Shield of Achillies—wars are not about territory but about changes of government organization and style.

    Some book on Reconstruction New Orleans—very depressing.

    A book on the National Security Agency—very interesting.

    Our current effort is Naill Ferguson’s The War of the Worldabout war in the 20th Century, to include WWI and WWII.

    As an aside, a similiar book is H P (Ned) Willmont’s When Men Lost Faith in Reason. Ned is a bit acerbic inhiswriting. The book is very expensive, so I bought the Kindle version, for $84 only.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  6. 6 On January 23rd, 2010, C R Krieger said:

    For OLD—are you referring to me (I would not make an issue of it) or are you referring to Pollard group, which I would think is ticky-tacky.  Or are you referring to my bad typing, which would be fair.

    Regards  —  Cliff

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