Great Berkeley Springs Book Read kicks off

by Kate Evans

Is there a book you’ve loved that’s really changed your life or that left a long-lasting impact? Or a treasured book you’ve read many times, whose characters inspired you or that holds special memories?

The Morgan County Public Library wants to hear about its patrons’ favorite book during their Great Berkeley Springs Book Read. The program began November 5 and continues until January 1.

New Morgan County Public Library assistant director Amy Bryan-Chapman said they wanted to find out what people in Berkeley Springs and surrounding Morgan County communities consider their all-time favorite book and what they’re reading.

During November and December the library is asking patrons to return the bottom half of the Great Berkeley Springs Book Read form listing their favorite book and telling why they love this book so much. The responses will be displayed with the top local favorites, she said. People can list more than one book as their favorite.

Forms are available at the Morgan County Public Library, some local businesses and through community book clubs and organizations.

PBS series inspiration

Inspiration for the book read came from the eight-part summer PBS series The Great American Book Read, which explored 100 of the nation’s best-loved novels. Viewers could call in and vote for their favorite novel and from their votes PBS selected their top 100 list, Bryan-Chapman said.

The library is displaying the top 10 best-loved novels in its window along with the list of the other top 90 books, as voted by PBS viewers. The top 100   favorite novels are a very broad mixture that crosses all genres and ages, Bryan-Chapman said.

Wish tree, activities

The library will also have a wish tree set up in the window with titles of books and DVDs that staff would like to add to the library collection. They’d love to have people donate their favorite book if it’s missing from their collection. The book will be tagged inside as being donated by them. People can also donate money and let staff choose books.

An activity that will accompany the Great Berkeley Springs Book Read is a New York Times-printed crossword puzzle that’s available at the library which is related to the PBS top 100 favorite books list. If patrons complete the crossword puzzle and return it during the book read, they’ll receive a gift, Bryan-Chapman said.  They’re also asking youth groups of different ages and young adult readers what books they’re reading and what are their favorites for a school-age component.

“We’re hoping to get a list of books that people want to see at the library to meet the needs of the community,” she said.

Some favorites

Some books that locals have already selected as favorites include George Washington: A Biography by Washington Irving, It by Stephen King, The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose and Three by Ted Dekker,

Some of the top 100 PBS books have made the list like The Notebook by Nicholas Spark. The books of James Patterson and Lee Child, who wrote the Jack Reacher novels, are also very popular in the community, said Bryan-Chapman.

Morgan County Public Library board chairperson Connie Perry followed the PBS Great American Book Read series and was excited that the number one book choice she picked To Kill a Mockingbidr was also the PBS list’s number one book. Other books that made the top ten included the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, Gone With the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, the Outlander series and Charlotte’s Web.

Perry is thrilled that the library is doing a local version of the Great American Book Read.   They’re happy to spur interest in people reading books on the PBS top 100 list that they’ve never read and have already had a great response to the program.

“It’ll be interesting to see what people are reading,” Perry said.