Read To Succeed’s One Book Community Read is all about getting people talking, both about literacy and the countless other issues that shape our county. For six years, the local literacy non-profit has carefully selected a book and promoted it throughout Rutherford County to encourage discussions about reading.
This year, the One Book Committee has chosen John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, an affecting novel that tackles big subjects--life, death, love—with a raw honesty that makes it an enlightening read.
One Book Committee Co-chair and MTSU English Professor Laura Beth Payne says that, in the end, Read To Succeed chose a book for 2012-13 that could “stir up meaningful conversations.”
“The characters are definitely complex as well as relatable,” Payne says, “but the questions they ask about life, faith, literature, pain, and relationships are intrinsically part of the human experience, and we really valued that in the book.”
The Fault in Our Stars revolves around 16-year-old Hazel, who’s dealing with terminal cancer when she meets another cancer-effected teen at her support group. The book follows their evolving relationship as they both face universal questions of life, death, and meaning.
One Book Committee Co-chair Michelle Palmer calls the book “funny and poignant, and easily readable.”
“It’s a good choice for everyone from high schoolers through adults,” Palmer says. “It has been a bestseller since it's publication in January, and has gotten praise from everyone from The New York Times to Entertainment Weekly.”
Payne says the book is not only readable, but incredibly relevant:
“I think anyone can relate to the book on some level,” Payne says, “because even though it does deal with individuals with cancer, cancer is not the focus of the book. The book actually focuses on how the characters find meaning in their lives from their faith, relationships, families, and even the literature they read. Readers will definitely have much to think about in the book, but they'll also receive reminders about what gives us strength and hope in times of trouble.”
Ingram Content Group will provide Read To Succeed with copies of the book to be distributed throughout the community in a Book Crossing. Each book will include information on Read To Succeed, One Book, and this year’s partners, and encourage the reader to share the book with someone else once they have finished. The Book Crossing will begin in December (for up-to-date details, visit readtosucceed.org or “like” One Book at facebook.com/OneBookRutherford).
One Book, a collaboration between Read To Succeed, MTSU, Linebaugh Library, CADCOR, United Way, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram Content Group, chooses a local non-profit or agency each year to focus on an issue brought up in the book. (Last year’s choice, The Hunger Games, inspired a partnership with Greenhouse Ministries to stock their food pantry and highlight their many free services.) This year, Read To Succeed will partner with Clinton’s Club, a Middle Tennessee-based organization founded after five-year-old Clinton Milliken was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer. In addition to raising awareness, Clinton's Club provides services at no-cost to families dealing with childhood cancer who are typically already financially struggling after healthcare costs.
“A child dies in this country from cancer every four minutes,” Palmer says. “Cancer organizations and the health community have done so much to promote detection and understanding, but childhood cancers are rarely discussed, and that was a big part of the reason why we picked The Fault in Our Stars.”
Read To Succeed will also support the mission of local teen Taylor Filorimo, who passed away in September after a battle with renal-cell carcinoma. The sixteen-year-old Riverdale student was determined to raise awareness about childhood cancer and has inspired countless members of the community to do just that.
“When we pick our One Book for the year, we, of course, want to pick something that makes people want to read,” says Lisa Mitchell, Read To Succeed’s Executive Director. “But we also try to pick something that encourages discussions about what matters to our community. The Fault in Our Stars will open up a dialogue not just about why reading is so important, but why raising awareness of childhood cancer is vital.”
Members of the One Book Committee will visit local councils, civic groups, schools and businesses to discuss The Fault in Our Stars and One Book. If you’re interested in having someone speak to your group about the program, contact Read To Succeed at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 15-738-READ.