A Look At: One Book Yuma

Books in Common had the opportunity to ask Sarah Wisdom, of One Book Yuma, some questions on setting up their Community Reads programs and the response in her community.

downloadWould you tell us a bit about your program?

One Book Yuma was a spinoff of One Book Arizona, our statewide Community Reads program. The public library and local newspaper started with a pilot program in 2003, and simply encouraged people to read the same book and attend a program. Our community colleges became collaborators in 2006, which also marked the first year we brought the author of the selected title to lead our community events. With one exception, we’ve brought the author to Yuma every year since!

BIC helped you secure your author last year, what did you learn from 2014 that is helping you with your 2015 event?  

We tweaked the number of events and the times they were held to better accommodate our community. We have a large retiree and “winter visitor” population, as well as our local working crowd that we were trying to reach, so we offered a daytime and evening event. We also made a conscious effort to reach out to our local bookstores as soon as we selected the title in hopes that they would keep the book in stock.

What advice or tips can you share with us about hosting a community reads program?

Have nice event fliers or pictures of the author on hand. If you sell out of books, people can still have the author sign something!

How has your relationship with Books In Common during the past few years been beneficial?

We’ve worked with Books In Common for the past two years, and they have provided tremendous assistance with contacting authors, negotiating fees, and coordinating visits, not to mention recommending some great reads!

What titles have worked best for your community, and why?

We had an overwhelming response to this year’s book, The Blue Tattoo: the Life of Olive Oatmanby Margot Mifflin. People have always been intrigued with the Oatman Massacre, which happened about 60 miles east of Yuma in the 1850’s. It was fascinating to hear an up-to-date account of the story, in which Margot set out to correct some of the misinformation that had been recorded over the years. (See Books in Common Interview with Margot Mifflin)

Do you have any examples of bridging diversity in a community by coming together around a book?

Luis Urrea’s visit in 2006 was very powerful.  Illegal immigration is a hot-button topic in Arizona, and there was a lot of apprehension in the community about the book and how everyone involved—the immigrants, Border Patrol, law enforcement—would be portrayed.

What are some of your fondest or most notable memories from past events?

I always enjoy the personal connections that are made when the authors come to town. When Luis Urrea visited, he got to meet and talk with our County Sheriff, who he’d written about in The Devil’s Highway, but never met. This year, a descendant of the Oatman family introduced herself to Margot Mifflin and shared some family stories about Olive after hearing Margot’s presentation about The Blue Tattoo. Those moments are so special, and they are a powerful testament of how books can bring people together.

This entry was posted in All Campus Reads Programs, Common Reads Programs, Community Reads Programs, Issue #6, Margot Mifflin, Uncategorised and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
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