Lakes Region Reads Kicks off on Saturday

A group of Lakes Region libraries has put together what promises to be a fabulous project focusing on a great epistolary novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Lakes Region Reads kicks off this week-end with a party at the Wright Museum and will include a visit from Annie Barrows on October 24, 2010. Here are details the planning committee shared with me:

This fall, in the six weeks leading up to Veterans Day, fourteen communities will be participating together for the first time in a "One Book" community reading program based in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. The towns participating are: Ashland, Bristol, Gilford, Gilmanton, Meredith, Moultonborough, New Hampton, Northfield, Plymouth, Rumney, Sanbornton, Sandwich, Somersworth, and Tilton.

The mission of Lakes Region Reads is to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment, to involve people from different parts of the region in discussing the same book, and to create shared cultural experiences based on a common calendar of programs inspired by the chosen title.

For this inaugural program, local librarians have selected The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, an epistolary novel set in the Channel Islands during World War II. The book reveals the hardships of the people of Guernsey as they endured Nazi occupation during World War II, but also highlights the small graces that friendship, writing, and literature can bring in even the darkest of hours.

The main goals of the project are to get as many people in the Lakes Region as possible excited about reading the same book and to bring about a shared appreciation of what life was like for “the Greatest Generation.” With these goals in mind, libraries have worked with schools and other local cultural and veterans organizations to develop a common calendar of forty events, all relating to the novel and the broader theme of World War II.

All of the programs will be cross-promoted and open to all, but there will be three main programs which will serve as the anchor pieces of Lakes Region Reads.
  • The Wright Museum of WWII History in Wolfeboro will host a grand kickoff event on Saturday, October 2, from 1 to 5 pm. The day will feature a presentation by Mike Pride, author of We Went to War: New Hampshire Remembers, starting at 2 pm. Tickets for free admission can be picked up at
    a participating library or printed from the Lakes Region Reads website.
  • The highlight of the program will be a visit by the novel’s co-author, Annie Barrows at the Inter-Lakes High School in Meredith on Sunday, October 24,
    starting at 1 pm. Annie will share the “story behind the story” – Mary Ann Shaffer’s years of research into Guernsey’s little-known history during the war years, her aunt’s illness, and her subsequent conversion from children’s author to novel writer. This event is not ticketed, so please arrive early to guarantee yourself a seat.
  • Finally, the Lakes Region Big Band will present a concert at the New
    Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton on Saturday, November 6 at 2 pm.

Each library will also host a book discussion held in conjunction with other agencies in town including bookstores, historical societies, veterans’ groups and schools, and display the classic works mentioned in the book. Libraries are eager to include the voices of those in our communities who lived through those perilous times, particularly veterans, so that their stories can be heard first-hand before they are lost forever.

Hundreds of books have been distributed to local libraries for “catch and release”. Please pick up a free copy, read the novel, and pass it on to a friend or neighbor. The entire calendar of events, and more information about the Lakes Region Reads project as a whole, is available at http://lakesregionreads.wordpress.com/.

Lakes Region Reads is sponsored by thirteen area libraries, their Friends groups, New Hampshire Humanities Council, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Laconia Savings Bank, Lakes Region Spirit Magazine, and the Inns & Spa at Mill Falls.

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