A Novel Idea … Read Together

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  4/5/2016

Thirteen years ago, Deschutes Public Library launched “A Novel Idea … Read Together,” Deschutes County’s only community-wide reading project. Designed to explore the question “what happens when we all read the same book?,” the project has grown in scope and scale to become one of the most successful community reading projects in the Northwest.

Over the years Deschutes County residents have read both fiction and non-fiction works by authors of critical and popular acclaim as part of the project. “A Novel Idea” has taken Deschutes County readers from civil rights-era Mississippi (The Help), to post-apocalyptic Colorado (Dog Stars), to Afghanistan during the rise of the Taliban (The Kite Runner) with stops in Mexico, Russia, Oregon, and New York along the way. This year we’re heading to the jungles and rivers of New Guinea with author Lily King’s novel Euphoria.

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize and one of The New York Times Top Ten of 2014, Euphoria tells a reimagined, fictionalized version of anthropologist Margaret Mead and her time in New Guinea. Set in the early 1930s along the banks of the Sepik River in what is now Papua New Guinea, King’s characters struggle with loss, passion, despair and the moral ambiguities of their profession, anthropology.

Through the generous support of donors and participation of Deschutes County readers, “A Novel Idea” has grown into the largest community reading project in the state. The project has grown over the course of 13 years. From reaching 400 people in 2004, to serving 6,500 people in 2015, “A Novel Idea” has emerged as the largest community-wide reading project in the state. Chantal Strobel, Deschutes Public Library’s Community Relations Manager, says that the shared reading experience of “A Novel Idea” gives participants the opportunity to discover new viewpoints and perspectives. “Community reading projects give participants the chance to discuss issues that matter and gain a better understanding of our differences all while enjoying a good read,” she says.

“A Novel Idea” kicks off on Saturday, April 9, at the Downtown Bend Library at 2:00 p.m. The three weeks of programs that follow the kick off offer readers opportunities to learn more about the novel through discussion groups, presentations, and workshops. This year also includes art shows inspired by Euphoria at the Downtown Bend, Sunriver and Sisters Libraries. The final event, a visit from Lily King, is scheduled for Sunday, May 1, at Bend High School. Free tickets become available on Saturday, April 16, at all branch libraries and online on the Library Foundation’s web site (

For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 312-1032,

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