Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Act Locally, Read Frequently

“Think globally. Act locally. Read frequently.” I like the motto so much that I wish I’d thought of it. But instead I found it on the website of Arlington READS Green, a project of Arlington County, Virginia and the Arlington Library system. Participants are invited to read “green” books and join in book discussions, author talks, a used book sale, and other enviro-friendly book-related happenings. It’s the literary branch of a many-limbed effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Arlington County, a program aptly named Fresh AIRE (Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions).

So what are Arlington READS Green readers reading? The five selected books include 3 nonfiction titles directly focused on global warming ( An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert, and The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock). To leaven the mix, two novels are also suggested: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, and Hoot by Carl Hiassen. Oddly, for this nonfiction fan, I’ve read the novels and not the others but recognize all as fine choices to stimulate discussion and heighten awareness. Anyone who lives in the Arlington area may want to check the schedule to learn if you can take part in the discussions. Tonight, for example, is a gathering for kids & teens to chat about Hoot, both book and movie.

But those of us who can’t get to that library can think about public libraries in our own neighborhoods. Could a program like Arlington READS Green work there? Could you help start one, or at least suggest it to the library staff? Another possibility is to suggest one of the GREEN titles (or another appropriate book) to your current book club. The parents' book club at my daughter’s school read Prodigal Summer with much pleasure and lively conversation. I took along a handy reading guide as a source of discussion questions and background info. The best result of the meeting was new fans for Kingsolver, one of the finest nature writers working today. And I know that while reading one book about the environment doesn’t always change your life, reading lots has to have an impact. So three cheers for Arlington READS Green! Let get out there and read frequently together.

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