Campus Community Read Announced!


If you’re looking for a new book to read that’s thought-provoking and related to your campus community, then look no further than the 2019-20 choice for Edmonds Community College’s Community Read.On May 10th the title for the community read was announced. The 2019-20 book selection is “American Like Me” by America Ferrera. “The major campus launch will be in September, when the paperback copies arrive,” said Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo.

The Community Read started in 2007, as a part of EdCC’s Arts, Culture, and Civic Engagement (ACCE) program. Back then, the book of choice was Maliha Masood’s “Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations Across the Middle East,” which documents the author’s trek across nations such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Since then, the Community Read has introduced the EdCC readership to novels such as “Middle Passage,” “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “The Big Burn,” “Prayers for the Stolen” and more still. Each of these stories raise awareness of issues such as slavery and civil rights, the harmful use of labels, the issues facing immigrants, and even global warming. They also explore other cultures and regions, taking readers around the world to experience insight on a global scale, as well as into time periods such as World War II.
One book, “Banana,” delves deep into the rich history surrounding the fruit which is most easily recognized as a staple of tropical climates, such as the Caribbean. It also raises awareness of the fight to save the banana from extinction at the hands of Panama disease, also known as Fusarium wilt, a virulent fungus that has wreaked havoc on banana plantations around the world. Without a doubt, each one of the books chosen to be part of EdCC’s Community Read are in line with the ACCE’s mission statement. According to their page on the college website, the Community Read aims to “build community through a common intellectual experience…promote literacy across the campus and community through the adoption of thoughtful, noteworthy works of literature or scholarship… [and] enrich the lives of students, employees, and the community.”

Literature itself has become an integral part of modern human life. It is a way for humanity to preserve vital perspectives throughout history, to document the highs and lows of civilization, and to deliver hard-hitting criticism against individuals and institutions. As for book clubs, they too have a rich history, and one that is especially rich from the perspective of the United States. Prior to the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which improved white women’s rights, virtually all were excluded from intellectual pursuits. Not only did this include higher education and gainful employment, but the enjoyment of literature as well.

Well, the ladies wouldn’t have it.
They met in the backs of bookshops and formed groups with whom to share novels and to discuss the insights they had gleaned from them. Despite all the possible risks they faced at the hands of their husbands, brothers and fathers, they persisted, and in 1877 they stepped out of the shadows.

The Woman’s Reading Club of Mattoon was formed in Mattoon, Illinois, and is still going strong to this day. Their record book states “The object of this club shall be to advance in self-culture and assist each other in gaining knowledge,” an admirable objective that nearly all book clubs seek to emulate even now. By 1926, book clubs expanded their scope of reach to encompass the entire population, and the economist Harry Scherman started the “Book of the Month Club” which, like the aforementioned club of Mattoon, is still active today. Now we have social media sites such as Goodreads, or public figures such as Oprah, or even our very own community to encourage us to hit the books and expand our thinking.
And if you’re still not convinced of the enriching experience that you’ll receive in reading one of these fine novels, then the Community Read also adds an opportunity to earn scholarships which are open to full- time, part-time, international, online, and Running Start students. Applicants will need to create a project that is centered around any of the themes explored within the selected novel. Additionally, “projects that undertake cultural, economic, social, artistic, historical, literary, political, scientific or technological themes are suitable.” The applicant must then write a 500- 800 word reflective essay which explains the connection between the project and the novel selected for the Community Read. Additionally, the project should also connect with EdCC and the community in some way.

Brent Anderson
Merryl Gefner and Haley Benjamin, EdCC’s librarians, pose with
hardback copies of the Community Read.

Last year’s choice of text was “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which raised discussion about the plight of African Americans in the United States, and explores this viewpoint through deep historical analysis. Applicants who chose to base their project on this work stood the chance to receive one of two $1,300 scholarships, or one of several smaller tuition awards.

In September you will be able to go to the EdCC library, bookstore, or even the Diversity and Inclusion center in the Malt- by building, to receive your free copy of the text while supplies last. If you’d like to apply for the chance to win a scholarship, have questions regarding the Community Read, or even have a suggestion for the 2020-21 selection, then contact Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, the Program Manager for Equity and Inclusion and Arts, Culture, and Civic Engagement.

You can contact her at [email protected].