Local library kicks off Community Reads project

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

The Wood County District Public Library kicks off its annual Community Reads project tonight at 7 p.m.

For Community Reads, the library selects a book to recommend to the community. The program, started in 2003, is focused on Edgar Allen Poe this year.

Mary Boone, public relations coordinator for the WCDPL, said the community could read any of Poe’s works, but they are specifically recommending an anthology called ‘In the Shadow of the Master,’ edited by Michael Connelly. The anthology contains many of Poe’s short stories and pairs them with essays by popular authors such as Stephen King and Sue Grafton.

Boone said this year marks Poe’s 200th birthday and, unintentionally, the kick off for this year’s events starts on Poe’s death date.

The fact that Community Reads also falls during October made it seem like a ‘no brainer’ because Poe is often remembered for his horror stories, Boone said.

‘A lot of us take Poe for granted,’ she said. ‘Most of what we read and enjoy can be traced back to what he did.’

Jolie Sheffer, an assistant professor of American Literature at the University, said Poe practically invented the modern detective novel and revolutionized the short story.

‘He is profoundly important,’ she said. ‘He created that sense of dread in his fiction better than almost anyone. We wouldn’t have horror movies, frankly, without Edgar Allen Poe.’

The WCDPL will offer various events throughout the month to celebrate Poe and Community Reads.

The kick off at seven tonight will feature a special guest. Patrick Carman, who wrote a Poe inspired young adult novel called ‘Skeleton Creek,’ will be visiting and reading from his new book.

‘Skeleton Creek’ is recommended by the library for teens to read for the celebration, Boone said.

‘What’s really cool about ‘Skeleton Creek’ is that as you are reading it there are passwords and references to an online Web site,’ she said. ‘So the kids pick up passwords and links to the online material and the two work together to tell the story. It is really innovative and pretty darn cool.’

Following the kickoff, on October 10th at 2 p.m., the library will host an event called ‘Oh! Poe Is Me,’ which will feature readings of some of Poe’s short stories and poems by Cedar Point’s ‘Trio of Terror.’ There will also be a costume contest; participants are asked to wear their best Poe inspired costume.

On October 24th at 4 p.m., the library will sponsor ‘Unhappy Hour,’ a book discussion led by the president of the Poe Studies Association, Stephen Rachman.

‘We’re pretty lucky [Rachman] lives so close by and is willing to come by and tell us everything we ever wanted to know about Edgar Allen Poe and then some,’ Boone said.

On the 30th at 7 p.m., the library will be offering free transportation to the Toledo Museum of Art for a ‘Madness and Mayhem’ tour. The tour will include art to go along with the Poe readings, Boone said. Registration is required. Also, throughout the whole month of October, the library is hosting a scavenger hunt called ‘Downtown BG goes Raven Mad.’

The scavenger hunt requires participants to pick up a form at the library and find ravens, which have a Poe short story or poem title on them, on display at various shops. Winners will win prizes donated by many of the participating shops.

Junior Jenny Kusmer said she has never heard of Community Reads, but thinks it makes an important point.

‘Reading does need to be stressed at all ages,’ she said.

Once the festivities are done, the work is still not over, Boone said.

‘When this is done, we’ll start planning for next year, and we are always looking for suggestions for a book for the next year,’ Boone said.