SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County libraries are calling all bookworms to participate in a county-wide reading campaign, aimed to foster empathy and kindness, as well as build connections among readers.
"The whole idea … is to get people connecting, and what better place to connect than at your public library," said Liz Sollis, Salt Lake County Library marketing and communications manager.
The second-annual Salt Lake County reading campaign United We Read SLC, in partnership with Utah Humanities, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Murray libraries, begins this month and runs through the spring. This year's selection is writer Cristina Henríquez's "The Book of Unknown Americans" — and the author will visit the Beehive State to kick off the campaign.
"That's incredible, we are very excited about that," Sollis said.
Henríquez, who is from Illinois, is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Amazon's Top 10 Books of the Year and chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, among other awards and recognitions. According to Henríquez's website, her stories have been featured in a variety of publications, including the New Yorker, The Atlantic and the American Scholar.
Henríquez's visit will kick off the campaign with a Q&A and book signing at the Viridian Event Center on Jan. 17, and participating libraries will host discussions of her book throughout April. Although this is the first year that Michael McLane, director of the Utah Center for the Book, is participating in United We Read SLC, he has seen its growth in Utah and around the country.
"These community reads have become more and more popular," said McLane. "I think the book's the perfect choice for this point in time."
"The Book of Unknown Americans" tell the fictional tale of an immigrant family from Mexico who moves to the United States to give their daughter opportunities after she experiences an injury. The daughter falls in love with a local boy, which brings both families together. The book also shares moments and stories from immigrants who have moved to the United States from Central and Latin America.
Those wishing to participate in United We Read SLC can check out "The Book of Unknown Americans" at any of the participating libraries or purchase it at the Jan. 17 event from Sandy bookstore The Printed Garden.
Other local bookstores, such as The King's English, will be selling Henríquez's book at a discounted price during the campaign. Sollis said the book is available in both English and Spanish as well as in paper, digital and large print, and there is also the possibility for some people to get a free copy of the book by attending programs at the libraries.
"It's out there in many ways for people to access," Sollis said.
The libraries are encouraging individuals who have read the book to share it with others and on social media, using the hashtag #UnitedWeReadSLC. For Sollis, reading a book as a community is a way for people to come together over a good book.
"I hope they enjoy ('The Book of Unknown Americans')," Sollis said. "I think it's such a great opportunity for people to learn about other people's lives."
If you go …
What: Cristina Henríquez Q&A and book signing
When: Jan. 17, 7 p.m.
Where: Viridian Event Center, 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan
Tickets: Free, no registration required