Community reading activities seem to be popular nationwide, but we’re not aware of any “One Book, One State” programs. North Carolina might be coming close with Timothy Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name. Wake County has just selected the book for its 2006 “Wake Reads Together,” following close behind Rocky Mount’s pick of the same book for its “One Book, One Community” program. New Hanover County chose Blood Done Sign My Name for a similar program earlier this year, and the current crop of freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill read it over the summer.
Tyson’s compelling history of a racially-motivated murder in Oxford, N.C. in 1970 is interwoven with an honest autobiographical account. Blood Done Sign My Name is a great starting point for a community-wide discussion about race and how we remember the past. If North Carolina were to give “One Book, One State” a try, this book would be an excellent choice.
One of the most memorable characters in North Carolina literature returns with the release today of The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons. Ellen Foster, Gibbons’s 1997 novel, opened with the unforgettable line: “When I was little I would think of ways to kill my Daddy.” The novel received national attention when it was selected for Oprah’s book club.
The Life All Around Me finds Ellen Foster at 15, applying for early admission to Harvard, thriving despite her troubled childhood, and still living in North Carolina.
The schedule for the North Carolina Festival for the Book, coming to Duke this spring, is an impressive one. The festival, formerly the North Carolina Literary Festival, is a biennial event that rotates between Duke, North Carolina State, and UNC. The four-day event highlights North Carolina authors and readers, but will also bring in nationally-known writers including Tom Wolfe, Barbara Kingsolver, Pat Conroy, and Roy Blount, Jr.
The North Carolina Arts Council, in cooperation with the state poet laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer, is featuring a “Poet of the Week” on its website.
Community reading programs are popping up all over North Carolina. We can’t think of a better way to get to know your neighbors, especially when the books chosen deal with the history and culture of our state. Folks throughout western North Carolina are participating in the fourth annual “Together We Read” program by reading and discussing The Road, John Ehle’s 1967 novel about the coming of the railroad to the North Carolina mountains. Ehle will be honored on Wednesday at a program at Western Carolina University.
Ehle’s 1965 non-fiction book, The Free Men, about the Civil Rights movement in Chapel Hill in the early 1960s, is an excellent companion to Timothy Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name. Tyson’s book has been a popular choice for community reading programs, already used in Wilmington and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
We’ve heard a lot lately about Amazon.com’s offer of the Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection. For only $7,989.50, you’ll receive all 1,082 books in the collection. Before we rush to place our order, we thought we’d have a look to see how many North Carolinians were represented. We found three: Charles Chesnutt, Harriet Jacobs, and O. Henry. Since our interest lies primarily in Tar Heel authors, perhaps it would be more economical to order a la carte.