Community Read May Increase Students’ Intellectual Activity

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Written By: Christine Coutts

Upcoming Community Read Events 
– 4 April 2017, 7:00 p.m.: keynote talk by Robert Putnam, Harvard professor and author of Our Kids and Bowling Alone [Fitchburg State, Ellis White]
This year’s Community Read on campus is Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam. The book touches on different topics surrounding the increasingly distant American dream. Joe Moser is a faculty member who has been involved with the Community Read program for a few years and has the experience of watching the program grow more successful every year.
“It’s a small way to keep reader culture alive on campus and in the community,” Moser said. “In today’s society, it’s easy not to prioritize reading.”

With so many ways to read and listen to a book electronically, readers and listeners may tend not to focus on the book itself and struggle to feel invested in it.

“I worry if we are still going to be intellectually active when books start being phased out of our lives,” said Moser. “The tangibility of a book is important, as well as its physical presence and experience.”

This is the third year of Community Read as a full year program and this year has seen the most success, according to Moser. With books like The New Jim Crow and I am Malala, there was some difficulty getting the author to come to campus because of the high costs. This year, the author of the community read will be coming to campus. Along with this, the events affiliated with the program are dynamic, collaborative, and are getting some attention. There have been events on and off campus at local libraries, as well as movie screenings, panel discussions, and more.

The committee is comprised of faculty, administrators, and staff. However, Moser hopes to involve students more in the future.

Looking forward, next year’s Community Read has been voted on and the winner is The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. This book is about an unknown town, in which young women persuaded to go there by good wages unknowingly helped build the atomic bomb during WWII. Moser says he is hopeful that the university will be able to bring Kiernan to campus next year.

Putnam will be delivering a keynote talk on April 4 at 7 p.m. in Ellis White Lecture Hall located in Hammond Hall. There will be a reception in the Main Lounge in Hammond Hall prior to the talk, which will start at 5:30 p.m. and Putnam will be present.

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