A good book is easy to find

Commentary:
Monday, Jan. 8, 2007

Like an old friend, A Tale for Three Counties arrives to brighten a soggy, snowless (so far) winter. The first chapter of this year’s selection, An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg , will be published in The Daily News Saturday – consider that advance notice so you don’t miss that and all the details of this year’s Tale events.

For those unfamiliar with A Tale for Three Counties, it is a community reading project organized by libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, in which local residents are encouraged to read and discuss a selected book and then meet the author during a series of visits. This is the fifth year for the project, which has become more popular every year.

Much of the credit for the increasing popularity has to go to those who select the books and authors. The books without exception have been easy enough reading that less experienced readers can enjoy them; at the same time, they have had enough substance that more experienced readers find them satisfying. The books generally have a rural theme or setting, and the characters deal with problems and events that spark recognition and sympathy in readers. Excitement builds as the selection is featured in book discussions at local libraries and book clubs. People talk about the featured books in line at the super mark ets, or at the local blood drive – wherever reading friends meet. And each author seems to create more reading friends and fans.

Mr. Spragg ‘s novel, An Unfinished Life , tells the story of a 10-year-old girl, her mother who breaks free from an abusive relationship, and an embittered grandfather who takes them in. The grandfather, Einer Gilkyson, blames his daughter-in-law, Jean, for his son’s death in a car accident, and hadn’t even known he had a granddaughter until the two arrive at his ranch in Ishawooa, Wyo. The story is both funny and heartbreaking at times. Ultimately, it is a tale of family, forgiveness and the relationships that bind even after death.

An Unfinished Life has received outstanding professional reviews and awards, and was named to the Editor’s Choice of Best Fiction for 2004 by Booklist. Mr. Spragg and his wife, Virginia Korus Spragg , wrote the screenplay for the 2005 movie starring Robert Redford, Morgan Freem and Jennifer Lopez.

Area readers will be able to meet Mr. Spragg during presentations in all three counties March 8 to 10. A few lucky individuals, winners of The Daily News book reivew contest, will get to enjoy a prize lunch with the author.

There are many reasons to get involved in A Tale for Three Counties. You can find interesting conversations, perhaps a debate as readers discuss topics from the book. You may meet new people who share your interests and who may turn you on to other books. The project helps build community and spirit, while promoting literacy. And most of all – it’s fun.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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