Book Selections - Stories: Borders & Becoming

Aug 1, 2016

Radio Readers Book Discussion Leader Karen Madorin of Logan, Kansas, takes a break from reading to spend time with her grandchild.

Plenty of memes and essays tell Facebookers, tweeters, and readers to live in the moment. In general, it’s good advice for a satisfying and contented life. However, learning about and understanding the stories of a certain place and people who lived and are living in that geographic locale add depth to our existence.

Digging into that knowledge and sifting through facts and opinions of researchers, writers, and folks who call that landscape home connects current residents more solidly to their chosen spot on the planet. Understanding place requires a happy balance between living in this moment and connecting to its past.

High Plains Public Radio Readers Book Club provides another opportunity to grasp intricacies of life on the Great Plains with this fall’s theme, Borders and Becoming. Participants explore three novels, Cather’s classic My Antonia, Sonia Nazario’s non-fiction Enrique’s Journey, and Dave Egger’s modern fiction What Is the What about the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Each text expands knowledge about this world we call home.

This online book club is unique in its effort to connect people who share a common landscape with its resulting concerns. Those who get involved can opt to create local clubs that permit face- to-face conversations as well go online to develop bonds with distant residents of our region. The electronic forum offers guided prompts and opportunities to respond to fellow readers’ reactions.

Last spring’s pilot struck a nerve with regional readers willing to share insights into what life in this particular place means. Contributors in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles interacted with those in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. The posted comments offered plainsfolk a chance to see where their lives intersect and diverge in this specific geography. Because of the place-generated focus and efforts to connect regional residents to their own stories, those living on this ancient seabed better understand themselves.

The new program begins in August, so if you want to join the conversation, get online via the HPPR Facebook page or through High Plains Public Radio’s website. Read the information that guides book club members through the process and arrange to buy or borrow the texts well ahead of the discussions. It’s easier and more satisfying to join these exchanges when you’ve had time to process a book and think through points that resonated with you or that triggered a dropped jaw, “What the heck!”

It’s not a bad idea, to look at the last spring’s archived discussions to get an idea about others’ responses. Listen to the taped forum to hear that books evoke very different responses from readers even when they share a common environment.

This venue requires more than simple agreement. Our landscape and those who call it home are complex and trigger divergent opinions. The programming team creates an environment to share those thoughts and explore our common existence. Live the moment and accept the invite for a chance to find out more about your neighbors and your world.