Hello Fairfield writers, this is Adair Heitmann writing to you about the power of reading books and then talking about them. Recently Fairfield held its month-long One Book One Town (OBOT) experience. After months of research the OBOT committee selected A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. It is a dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.
The authors spoke to over 750 residents and non-residents on March 27 at Fairfield University’s Quick Center. Before their formal talk, yours truly had the opportunity to meet them at a small reception. Yes, shaking their hands was inspiring, yes, having my picture taken with them was an ego-boost, but the amazing part was who I met standing in line for the book signing and photo op.
As a way to start a conversation with the woman behind me, I used my tried and true ice-breaker, “So, what brings you here?” The flood gates opened. Ingrid and her friend Andonia drove from New Jersey just for the event. Turns out they started a book club at work, and A House in the Sky was their first pick. From reading Amanda Lindout’s website, Ingrid found out that both she and her co-author Sara Corbett would be in Fairfield, CT speaking at the One Book One Town premiere event. In a heartbeat, both Ingrid and Andonia took 1/2 day off from work and went for a little field trip to Connecticut.
What amazed me about Ingrid, Andonia, and my spontaneous discussions was that we were perfect strangers. We came from diverse backgrounds, ages, and stages in life, yet I felt our conversations were authentic, lively, and interesting. The veneer that usually stands between genuine conversation was gone. It was as if we were in our own intimate book club, standing amongst scores of other people.
This leads me to the power of books and the magic of book clubs. Clearly the depth of the book A House in the Sky had a lot to do with the level of connections. The One Book One Town program is really one big book club. When the entire town reads the same book, people talk about it in grocery stores, online, at church, at libraries, and in living rooms.
I’d say I’m in three book clubs, one being OBOT. Then there is my Family Book Club which has stood the tests of time for over 10 years and morphed into a four times a year book, pizza, dessert and chat extravaganza. The ages now go from one-year old, through high school, into college up to 65 years old, plus there is a new baby on the way! We started out reading the classics, now we’ve moved onto, “Does this book have what it takes to become a classic?”
My third book club is a movie/book club. It started organically around the movie Catching Fire. Another family and mine wanted to see the movie, we had all read the book. We decided to see the movie together, then have pizza at my house and talk about it afterwards. The mother of the other family recently told me that our fun, impromptu, you-don’t-have-to-talk-about-the-book-the-whole-time book club has ruined her middle school age daughter for “same-age book clubs!” After finishing Divergent so we could see the movie, and then talk about the book vs. the movie, we are now reading Maze Runner and The Fault of Our Stars.
As you can see, I’m hot on book clubs. If you aren’t in one now, find one. Libraries have book clubs, churches have them, start one at your job or in your neighborhood. I’ll offer hints and tips about finding the right book club or starting your own, next month when I write again for this blog.
Until next time, keep on writing! Your book may become a book club winner.