A large turnout on January 11 enjoyed a stimulating discussion of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the second Friends with Words activity hosted by the Friends of the Library (FOL). Published in 1960, Mockingbird is still a popular and cherished work, winning 2018’s PBS Great American Read Vote (with more than four million votes cast) for America’s Best-Loved Novel. In the Ranch’s own local vote, it placed third. Mockingbird proved to be a great book for discussion with lots of interaction and diverse opinions expressed from a variety of perspectives! The lively discussion clearly accomplished a primary goal of the FOL: to increase the vitality of the library by adding more activities for Robson Ranchers to enjoy.
The Friends with Words program encompassed all the elements of an entertaining and thought-provoking book discussion: a book with enduring values and themes—morality, good vs. evil, and racism; an articulate, well-prepared panel facilitating the discussion—led by La Donna Womochel and supported by Mary Jo Skillings-Belding and Dick Dauphinais, they explored the characters and themes with insightful questions; an engaged audience of 43 attendees who participated with many sharing their own personal impressions and interpretations and even a big surprise. One of our audience members, Mary Anne Alhadeff, provided a range of fun KERA gifts to share with our attendees. Everyone left the meeting with a better understanding of To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as a surprise treat! (A favorite gift was the Henry VIII mug with five of his six wives disappearing when the beverage is hot!) These factors provided a reliable recipe for a satisfying book discussion: a great book, a great panel, a great audience and even some great gifts!
Interestingly, when one of the discussion attendees was asked what topic in the talk stood out to him, it wasn’t one of the serious or even troubling themes of the book. Instead, he commented on the nostalgic memories the book brought forth. Memories of exploring the world with the freedom of being a child in the 1950s; a childhood much more similar to that of the book’s characters than today’s world of cyber bullying and helicopter parenting were what he mentioned.
The next installment in the Friends with Words series will be held on Thursday, April 25, in the library, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. This coming event adds a new focus, a switch from fiction to non-fiction, with a discussion about Ron Chernow’s presidential biography, Grant, led by one of our own Robson Ranch authors, Brigadier General (ret.) Wayne Michael Hall. General Hall’s military experience and knowledge are sure to make it a stimulating discussion of our 18th president. Mark your calendar now and begin to prepare by reading the book!