Students, faculty, staff and alumnae of St. Mary’s College come together once a school year to read, discuss and share a book; the effort is called One Book One St. Mary’s. It’s modeled after reading initiatives used by several cities, including South Bend and Chicago. For the 2012-2013 school year, that book was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a nonfiction book by Rebecca Skloot. Now, the St. Mary’s community is asked to vote on a book for the 2013-2014 school year.
Read more about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and One Book One St. Mary’s here and on the St. Mary’s College website.
As the current academic year draws to a close, the St. Mary’s Board of Directors concluded One Book One St. Mary’s with an online discussion, hosted by alumna Lisa Maxbauer Price, a Michigan-based writer for FIRST For Women magazine. The online chat took place at 9 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. The virtual event, which took place through FriendFeed.com, included alumnae from Michigan, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey and Iowa, as well as at least one local alumna (me).
During the one-hour discussion, Maxbauer Price introduced questions such as:
“The author initially envisioned telling this tale one way, but later decided she had to write herself into the story and make herself a character. What did you think of that choice?”
“What do you think we can tell about Henrietta based on how she faced her life during those last, short eight months between her diagnosis and death?”
“[Henrietta’s] children mostly got to know her as adults, through the amazing research done by the author. How different is this delayed, 2nd person relationship from the more usual one?” (This question was first posed by alumna Carole Nadler in a Facebook discussion with Maxbauer Price.)
For 2013-2014, the St. Mary’s Community will have to choose between these three classics:
* Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
* The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
* Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
St. Mary’s students might slightly lean toward the Virginia Woolf title, since Dalloway’s Clubhouse, named after the title character, is a popular coffeehouse and place for events on campus. However, the community may choose to read the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic to coincide with the release of the film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher et al., set to be released in May 2013. Or, it may decide to remember Bradbury, who passed away on June 5, 2012, and whose Fahrenheit 451, with a lot to say about censorship, technology and violence, seems increasingly relevant.
Voting ends on May 3rd. The winner will be announced at the Reunion ’13 alumnae event.
Those who vote for the 2013-2014 One Book One St. Marys title will also have the chance to write in a suggestion for the 2014-2015 book.