Reading is such a solitary pastime; the only beings you share it with are the book’s characters, running through your head. I think one of the reasons people like book groups is that it’s such fun to talk with others about books we’ve read on our separate couches, deck chairs, and beds.
Take that idea county wide, fold in various events related to that book, and you’ve got One Book, One Marin. Every year, the San Rafael-based organization of that name selects a novel by a Bay Area author and plans several months’ worth of programs at local libraries and bookstores, culminating in an onstage discussion with the author at Dominican University, in San Rafael.
I love the idea of “everyone” in the county reading the same novel at the same time. Previous books have included Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon; What Is the What, by Dave Eggers; Saving Fish from Drowning, by Amy Tan; and Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende. This year’s choice is The Oracle of Stamboul, an acclaimed first novel by Michael David Lukas, who lives in Oakland.
Set in Ottoman Empire Turkey, the novel follow a little girl whose extraordinary gifts take her from a town on the Black Sea into the court of the sultan. Critics have called its mix of historical detail and magical realism enchanting, inventive, and compelling. And its setting has inspired a variety of events in Marin.
One Book One Marin kicks off on February 2 at Book Passage, where Lukas reads from and discusses his novel—a nice way to get your book, get it signed, and get motivated to start reading. Two days later, Turkish-born historian Mehlika Seval gives a talk on “Myths and Magic of Turkey” at the Larkspur Public Library. Plans call for her views on classic sites, riverfront restaurants, shopping secrets, and more.
Seems as if all the Marin libraries have scheduled free discussions on Lukas’ novel. The next ones are February 8, at the Larkspur Public Library, and February 9, at the Corte Madera Library. One more local discussion is not free but will include the author: That’s the meeting of the book group I lead at Book Passage; we’ll talk with Lukas on Feb. 27. (We just started the most recent four-meeting session of this group, Meet the Author, on January 30 with Yiyun Li and The Vagrants.)
And next month, Jale Boga Robertson, whose company Blue Odyssey leads tours of her native Turkey, will lecture on Turkish cuisine—demonstrating cooking techniques and offering samples—at Corte Madera Library. I live in the Twin Cities (Larkspur and Corte Madera), so I’m particularly interested in these events–plus Michael Krasny’s interviewing Michael at Dominican in April. For a full lineup of programs and more info on The Oracle of Stamboul, see onebookonemarin.org.