Greenwich Reads kicks off with panel discussion Oct. 18 featuring Susan LaSalla, Jim Bell

September 20, 2017 GMT

GREENWICH — An author visit, lectures and discussions are in store next month as events surrounding the annual Greenwich Reads Together program get under way.

The choice of “News of the World,” an acclaimed historical novel by Paulette Jiles, was first revealed in May. Jiles will be coming to Greenwich Library Nov. 14 as a centerpiece of programming built around the book’s themes will be held throughout town involving the library, the town’s schools and other organizations.

“The goal of Greenwich Reads Together is to deepen engagement in literature through reading and discussion and to build community connections,” Kate Petrov, Greenwich Library’s public relations officer, said. “We feel it is important to draw from the different themes of “News of the World” to develop a wide range of programming.”

More than 20 community programs are planned for Greenwich Reads Together, which is in its seventh year. The programs range from a screening of the classic John Wayne western “The Searchers” and the miniseries “Lonesome Dove” that featured Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones to panel discussions about the state of newspapers and news coverage.

Programming is put together by the Greenwich Reads Together Steering Committee as well as library staff. The program itself is supported by the Friends of Greenwich Library.

“This is a group effort and we’re lucky to have so many willing partner organizations,” Petrov said.

The Oct. 18 panel discussion “And That’s The Way It Is - News Producers in Conversation” will kick off the programming and feature former Today Show producer Susan LaSalla and Jim Bell, the current president of NBC’s Olympics production and programming. The two are expected to discuss their experiences producing network news and how coverage has evolved. It will be held at Greenwich Library.

In conjunction with Greenwich Reads Together, the Retired Men’s Association will host Lincoln Millstein, the senior vice president and special assistant to the CEO of Hearst Corporation, which is Greenwich Time’s parent company. Millstein, a town resident, will be discussing “Dramatic Changes in the Newspaper Industry” on Oct. 25 at First Presbyterian Church.

Events including concerts and discussions are scheduled for the Byram Shubert Library, the Bruce Museum and Greenwich Historical Society.

“News of the World” tells the story of former soldier Jefferson Kyle Kidd who travels through the far-flung portions of Texas after the Civil War carrying newspapers from all over the globe to bring news to people starving for information. Then he agrees to take custody of an orphaned 10-year-old girl raised by a Kiowa family after a raid killed her parents and sister.

Kidd is asked to bring the child to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio. The two bond despite not sharing a language. In the end, Kidd is faced with stepping outside the law to save the girl.

“A key theme of the book is information and how news is shared,” Petrov said. “That’s why we’re bringing in experts from print and broadcast journalism. It’s always interesting to offer historical context. The book takes place in post-Civil War Texas, so we have music from Texas, two films set in Texas, as well as a visit from author Scott Zesch, who will discuss his book “The Captured: A True Story of Abductions by Indians on the Texas Frontier.”

While “News of the World” chosen chosen for adult participants, middle school students will read “The Ransom of Mercy Carter” by Caroline B. Cooney, a former Old Greenwich resident and a Greenwich High School class of 1965 graduate. Elementary school students will read “The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses” by Paul Goble.

An online book discussion will take place from Oct. 16 to Nov. 15 with questions posted at the library’s twitter account @gwlibrary where people can use the hashtag #2017GRT in their response.

“A key goal of the library’s strategic plan is to strengthen our community of readers by increasing patron connections to one another and to our collections,” Petrov said. “Check our schedule to find one or start your own.”

The author’s talk is a critical piece of the programming, since one of the requirements of a choice for the Greenwich Reads Together book is that the author be available to come to Greenwich for an appearance.

Jiles, a novelist, poet and memoirist, will speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the library and to Greenwich public and private school students on Nov. 15.

The library event is free and open to all but seating is limited and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. The event will take place inside the Cole Auditorium. After her remarks, Jiles will do a book signing with copies available for sale through Diane’s Books.

“Hearing authors speak about their work and their process is always a fascinating experience,” Petrov said. “It’s something that never gets old for me personally. We have many current and aspiring writers and authors in Greenwich and they are always interested in hearing more about the process. Being able to meet the author really brings the book to life for many people. It’s a key component to Greenwich Reads Together that we hope to continue in the future.”

A full list of the planned Greenwich Reads Together events is online at www.greenwichreadstogether.org as well as book discussion guides, reviews and interviews. The website also has full information about the Greenwich Rotary Club essay contest for Greenwich public and independent school students in grades six through 12. Cash prizes will be given to the winners; the website has the rules and the essay questions.