CV Reads is a new program of the Castro Valley Library designed to build community and foster discussion by asking people to read the same book. The selection for this inaugural year is Lab Girl, a witty and moving coming-of-age story by acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren. A national bestseller, Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. Jahren is a three-time Fulbright award-winning botanist who writes about the interactions between men, women, and academia.
The idea of a community-wide read is not a new one. “A lot of communities across the country do it, and they each do different things. Some choose classic books, some choose fiction, some non-fiction,” said librarian Christianne Selig. Selig had been part of a community-wide read when she worked at the library in San Leandro and knew she wanted to start a program like it when she relocated to Castro Valley.
How did they choose the book, a memoir of a female scientist’s journey? “We really wanted to do something around science and the environment and this fit with the theme,” said Selig. “We had been on a science kick, especially with children’s programming.”
Judging from the community’s response, the library chose wisely. About 110 people attended the kickoff event on January 21, where they heard dramatic readings from Castro Valley High students and had the opportunity to sign up for one of the six library-organized discussion groups or form their own. As of last week, about 260 people had joined a group. The library provided a free copy of the book to each person in a discussion group, while supplies lasted. If you weren’t able to get a copy of the book, the library also has 50 books, 30 eBooks, and 12 eAudiobooks available to check out from the library collection.
Castro Valley resident Becky Stanek-Rykoff was excited to learn of the new program. “I love to read and in the past couple of years, there have been several books I’d read where I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish I knew someone else who was reading this book so I could talk to them about it.’ This book has been on my to-read list for awhile and the opportunity to read it and talk about it with a bunch of other people and have it be part of the community conversation in Castro Valley was really exciting to me.”
It’s not too late to sign up for a discussion group. The library’s first one is on Sunday, February 18. Discussion group participants – whether library-organized or private – will receive an invitation to the author’s visit on April 6. “We feel really lucky to get her here. She lives in Norway now and it just so happened she was going to be in the US at this time,” said Selig.
If reading isn’t your thing, there are plenty of related events over the next couple of months, from talks by scientists to film screenings (An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power). There are plenty of family and child-friendly events such as story times, STEAM Saturday, Pajama Time and a celebration of Earth Day at the library. The library does hope to make this an annual event, so if this book isn’t your style, keep your eyes on the library’s website for an announcement later this year of the next book.
Contact the library for more information or to join a discussion group.
Follow the Castro Valley Library on Facebook for more details about upcoming events related to the Community Read.