Program encourages community involvement

Trent Podskalan

“The Age of Miracles” by Karen Thompson Walker was recently selected as the 2013 One Book, One Community (OBOC) award winner.

The OBOC program encourages the Northern Michigan University and Marquette County community to read the same book and discuss their thoughts and ideas.

Co-chair of the OBOC program, Dana Schulz, said the overall purpose of the program, which has been going on since 2006, is to encourage everyone to read.

“Our goal is to get people reading and get people reading good books they wouldn’t have picked up on their own,” Schulz said. “These books are unique enough to talk about with other people.”

Co-chair Alexander Gubbins said they are targeting both students and the community alike. Not only is this for university students, Gubbins said, but high school students read the OBOC selection and the program is now beginning to reach out to local middle schools as well.

Schulz said the OBOC committee and selection sub-committee work together on choosing the book.

“The selection committee comes up with a list of books and they read various books and decide which ones they want to include on the list,” Schulz said. “Two books get brought to the whole committee for us all to read.”

Schulz said the OBOC committee then discuss the books and make a list of topics during the selection that would come up during a discussion of the novel.

“The book…also has to be weighty enough for something to talk about,” Schulz said. “It has to have the ability to spark conversation.”

Because of the variation in ages reading the selected novel, Schulz said there are some criteria the committee uses in selecting the book.

“The book has to be paperback and under 300 pages,” Schulz said. “The book needs to be really well-written and needs to have that ‘This is a good book’ feeling.”

Gubbins said one criteria is that the book will appeal to both males and females and appeal to college students, adults and young adults. Gubbins also said the OBOC committee looks to expose readers to an unfamiliar experience or culture.

Gubbins said “The Age of Miracles” was selected this year because many on the committee enjoyed the book.

“The first thought we had was ‘That was a very good read,’” Gubbins said. “The writer had a voice that pulled me through the book, at least for me personally.”

Gubbins said the book is based on what would happen if the earth’s rotation slowed down.

“With climate change, it was something we considered,” Gubbins said. “[The book] will appeal to what has been happening lately in the world and in how people respond to catastrophe.”

“The Age of Miracles” is a novel of catastrophe and survival, growth and change. The story follows a girl named Julia and her family as they struggle to live in a phenomenal time. On a regular Saturday, Julia wakes up and discovers something has happened to the earth’s rotation.

In a world of desperation, Julia faces shocking developments in herself and her personal world. Walker delivers a story of people finding ways to go on in an ever-changing world.

Other books in contention this year, Schulz said, included Palestinian memoir “Hour of Sunlight” by Sami al Jundi and Jen Marlowe and “The Reapers Are The Angels” by Alden Bell.

“Solar Storms” by Linda Hogan was the OBOC program’s second choice, Schulz said. Schulz also said “The Age of Miracles” was selected because of it’s accessibility and it is good for any age group.

A concert related to the book will be held at 7:30 p.m Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the Reynolds Recital Hall.

Walker will be at NMU for a reading at 7:30 p.m Monday, Oct. 28 in the Great Lakes Rooms. Walker will also have a question and answer session, but no time has yet been determined.

Previous OBOC books include “Tortilla Curtain” (2006), “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2007), “The Shadow of the Wind” (2008), “The Things They Carried” (2009), “The Sparrow” (2010), “The Lazarus Project” (2011) and “A Mountain of Crumbs” (2012).