APTOS — For the next couple of months, community members will come together for a variety of events, all centered around a single book.
That is the goal of Our Community Reads, a program launched in August by the Aptos Chapter of the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries: to create a shared experience.
“We are trying to make it have such a wide appeal,” said Denise Ward, Our Community Reads’ steering committee chair. “It’s a pretty ambitious project.”
Organizers recently announced that 2018’s program will be based off of comedian Trevor Noah’s book, “Born a Crime.” The 300-plus-page autobiography details Noah’s life while he was growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.
Preparing for the program resulted in a “ton of reading,” Ward said, and “Born a Crime” was chosen out of a list of five books proposed by Our Community Reads’ committee. The criteria included nonfiction books that were appropriate for juniors in high school and older, as well as strong themes that organizers could create events around.
A community meeting in August that drew more than 40 people asked attendees to vote for their top three choices.
“I think it’s such a perfect fit,” Ward said of “Born a Crime.” “Trevor Noah uses his wit and touches on really serious themes, but never brings you down.”
The events will kick off on Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Aptos Library, 7695 Soquel Drive, with the screening of “You Laugh but it’s True.” The documentary explores Noah’s upbringing in South Africa.
Those looking to attend the events are advised to start reading the book now. While the Aptos Library has “beefed up” its supply of the book, Ward encourages readers to purchase the book at local bookstores such as Kelly’s Books in Watsonville and Bookshop Santa Cruz.
In addition to a number of film screenings, other events throughout February include a children’s story hour led by Nancy Spangler and a talk by Cath Byrne, who holds a master’s degree in international peace studies and grew up near Noah’s home in South Africa.
The program is scheduled to wrap up on March 1 with a poetry and art exhibition at Aptos High School, where students will present their works that reflect the theme of Noah’s memoir.
An avid reader, Ward said she heard about a community reading program from her friend in Lake Oswego, Ore. After doing some research and finding out that they were sprouting up across the country, Ward presented the idea to the Friends of the Aptos Library, which jumped on the idea and suggested she become the program’s chair.
“It’s been a really fantastic experience,” Ward said.
For information and a schedule of events, visit www.friendsofaptoslibrary.org/our-community-reads---born.html.