One Book, One Community disappoints organizers

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This year’s One Book, One Com­munity event at Skyline on Tuesday Oct. 19 was met with an unfortunate lack of student interest and a smaller than average turnout.

Each year, the One Book, One Community (OBOC) program chooses a book written by a rec­ognized author and urges residents of San Mateo County to read this same book at the same time and culminates in a series of free book talks and lectures spread out over a month.

According to the OBOC website, “[OBOC] is a county-wide reading program held annually to build com­munity, call attention to reading and literacy, and create a meaningful dia­logue about books and reading.”

Skyline College has been par­ticipating in OBOC since 2006, when “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini was the chosen piece. This year’s book was “The Amazing Adventures of “Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon, who wrote the book, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”, which catapulted him into literary stardom while attending University of California, Irvine, for graduate school.

“The Amazing Adventures of “Kavalier and Clay” is a book of historical fiction based on Chabon’s love of comic books. It is a story about two young boys (cousins) who decide to create a comic that soon becomes very popular. The book goes into themes of nostalgia and identity and is peppered with an hon­est reverie of the comic book world. The book went as far as winning the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Chabon chose to write the book after finding a box of comic books done by the legendary Jack Kirby, who is notable for creating the character Captain America. Chabon read through the books and decided to then write a fictional novel based on the golden years of comic book making.

Skyline hosted two different events in relation to the OBOC pro­gram– a lecture with Cartoon Art Museum Curator Andrew Farago, and a round-table book talk.

Farago’s lecture was comprised of a contextual look at the different chapters of “Kavalier and Clay” and was filled with a deep knowledge of comics and comic book history. While quite a bit of staff attended, only about 2-3 students were present at this particular lecture.

The lecture itself took a look at real-life comic book artists and compared them to the fictional “Ka­valier and Clay”. Farago attempted to show that, even though these were not “real” people, they were still very well represented in their fears and in the ideas that they had for furthering themselves in the comic book business.

“It’s a case of art imitating art,” said Farago.

The book has an interesting subject matter that the OBOC board hoped would appeal to students, if only to remind students that you can come from any background and still do something you love.

“You might be weak or ill in real life, but if you got the opportunity you would be able to do something– to really do some good.” Farago said during his lecture.

The lecture had a total of about 13 people in attendance which turned out to be a little more than twice the amount of people who would later attend the main book talk.

According to Library Services Director Thomas Hewitt, only 6 people actually went to the book talk– 5 of which were library staff. The sixth? A Skyline English professor who wanted to give his support.

Hewitt explained that the lack of student turnout, however, was not due to a lack in advertising.

“We put campus flyers up […] and sent some flyers to public li­braries in the area– like [South San Francisco], Daly City, and Pacifica […], but that still didn’t bring in any people from the community” explained Hewitt.

Hewitt believes it to be a shame that this book wasn’t more widely read by our community.

It was a tough thing to go through, Hewitt said about the lack of student attendance. He, being both the Li­brary Director and a lover of litera­ture, hoped more people would actu­ally choose to go the book talk.

“We are a public library,” said Hewitt, “we try to serve the com­munity as well [as Skyline College], so it’d be great if we could’ve gotten some people to come up here from off-campus.”

One of the students who attended the Farago lecture said that he was surprised that more people didn’t come.

“Andrew Farago is a pretty big-ticket get as far as what he does,” said Jay Hernandez. “The book itself was really interesting, too.”

Hernandez’s friend, Joseph Gaynes, who did not attend the lecture, says he hopes Skyline con­tinues with the program.

“I know that it seems like stu­dents don’t care, but it’s more that they’re not really proactive about it,” said Gaynes. “I just hope they keep going with the [OBOC] program.”

Hewitt himself was thinking along those lines after the book talk.

“We’ll just regroup,” he said. “I was thinking after the book discus­sion, ‘I don’t know if I want to keep doing this anymore,’ but I think we will keep doing it. It’s a worthwhile endeavor.”