The Madison Library kicked off this year’s On the Same Page event with their book giveaway Jan. 13.
Cathy Stanton, one of the librarians involved with organizing the events, said they have around 800 copies of A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Anyone who missed the Wednesday book pickup can ask for a free copy at the main circulation desk at the library.
To go along with themes and details in the book, the library will be holding a beginning watercolor workshop, a sculpting activity, a lecture on the book, a Beethoven concert and a Wii Tennis tournament. Participants can call to reserve one of the limited seats in the watercolor workshop or get their name on the Wii Tennis tournament bracket.
On the Same Page originated from a national program called The Big Read. Stanton said that 15 years ago, the National Endowment for the Arts conducted a study which showed that those who read for fun were more often the same people who went to concerts and museums, volunteered in the community and voted. In an attempt to encourage more people to read, the organization began The Big Read.
“They would get hundreds of copies of a book out into the community for free and then have all kinds of activities and lectures and things connected to it so that people would be reading together and participating together,” Stanton said.
They offered a grant for those who wanted to run the program locally, which is exactly what the Madison Library did. When funding for the program ran out, the Madison Library could no longer use the name The Big Read and instead named their event On the Same Page.
“I like being a part of an endeavor that aims to further literacy,” said Josh Allen, a BYU-Idaho English professor set to give a lecture on A Room with a View for the reading event.
Allen has done lectures in connection with On the Same Page for several years, covering books like Alice in Wonderland, True Grit, Huck Finn, The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Sherlock Holmes.
“I really love the idea of everybody in a community coming together and talking about literature, and I just like being a part of that,” Allen said.
He said the event helps get people to read great books and look at important ideas. He believes that some of the best workers, thinkers and citizens are literate individuals.
Allen’s lecture, “Waking Up” will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 in the community room of the Madison Library.
“This is a book about a woman who kind of wakes up to her surroundings,” Allen said. “She begins very much asking people to tell her what to think, and then she ends up learning to form her own opinions and learning to think for herself.”
Allen said the plot of the book involves a woman who is engaged to a man who is of a high social class and is an acceptable match when she meets a man who has rejected some of society’s norms.
“There’s kind of a subtle humor where Forster is mocking the ridiculousness of Edwardian society and ‘high class’ behavior,” Allen said.
Stanton described the book as a romantic comedy.
“You’ll giggle through it,” she said. “There’s still definitely that meat underneath, but it’s just a delightful read.”
Stanton said A Room with a View was one of the top votes in a poll the library did last year. It tied with another book, which will be the selection for next year. She said one big factor for picking books for On the Same Page is price. They start with a large list of books that are affordable. She then begins going through and determining what kinds of activities could be done alongside the books.
“Whatever that selection is, we try to get the activities for that book really highly varied so that it will appeal to a lot of different segments of the community,” she said.
The activities associated with the book will not begin until February to allow the community time to read the book, Stanton said.
One of Stanton’s favorite memories about On the Same Page came from the year they focused on The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Stanton said she selected it in hopes that they could involve more members of the sizable Hispanic community present in the area. She wanted to involve Hispanic culture and history and sought out a dance troupe for the event’s kick off. In the process, a group was formed to perform for the event.
Stanton said she saw a dramatic change in one man in particular who used to come into the library to play video games. He looked like he was headed for trouble, but she said she saw a transformation once he got involved with the dance troupe.
“The way he walked, the way he carried himself — really it was just incredible,” she said.
Stanton still finds herself choking up when recalling the story.
“Sometimes our stuff can seem like silliness, but it really can impact people’s lives,” she said.
For more information about participating in On the Same Page or volunteering at the events, contact the Madison Library at (208) 356-3461.