Originally created 02/24/02

Program hopes to get Georgians reading



What if everyone read the same book?

That's the question the Seattle public library asked five years ago when it started a massive program to get everyone in the city reading. It's also the question Georgians face Friday when the Georgia Center for the Book will announce its selection for a similar project.

"We wanted to bring everyone together in a dialogue about what it means to be Georgians, what it means to live in this state," said Rhonda Mullen, spokeswoman for the Decatur center, which promotes literacy and Georgia literature and is affiliated with the Library of Congress.

The selection will come from a list, 25 Books Every Georgian Should Read. Each book is by a Georgia author or is about the state. It includes such classics as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, along with more recent popular books such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt.

The center sponsored an essay contest, asking readers to nominate a book on the list for the first selection.

The Augusta Chronicle will reveal the chosen book on Friday and offer an interview with its author Sunday, March 3.

The idea has spread across the country. The Chicago Public Library launched an effort last year to get everyone to read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. City officials urged residents to participate, and bookstores and libraries arranged exhibits, discussion groups and Internet chat rooms about the book. The Chicago Bar Association performed a mock trial based on the trial in the book in October.

Historically, the project has provided a chance to examine issues that face people in the communities where the books were read. Chicago chose a book that examines racism, among other issues.

GEORGIA TOP 25 READING LIST

Armored Hearts, by David Bottoms

Baby of the Family, by Tina McElroy Ansa

Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Burns

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Deliverance, by James Dickey

Dream Boy, by Jim Grimsley

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories, by Flannery O'Connor

An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter

The Library Dragon, by Carmen Deedy (illustration Michael White)

Lighthouse, by Eugenia Price

The Member of the Wedding, by Carson McCullers

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt

Peachtree Road, by Anne Rivers Siddons

Praying for Sheetrock, by Melissa Fay Greene

The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy

Run With the Horsemen, by Ferrol Sams

The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. DuBois

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington

Tobacco Road, by Erskine Caldwell

To Dance With the White Dog, by Terry Kay

Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales, by Joel Chandler Harris/Julius Lester

Walking With the Wind, by John Lewis

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, by Pearl Cleage

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com