Explore ‘Beautiful Ruins’ for One Book
Jess Walter, author of "Beautiful Ruins." The book has been chosen for Wilmette's One Book Everybody Reads program. | Provided
WHAT: One Book, Everybody Reads
TITLE: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:18AM
WILMETTE — Organizers of the 2013 “One Book, Everybody Reads” program have chosen a novel of movies, long-ago love, a star-struck Italian innkeeper and the occasional appearance by actor Richard Burton to bring the community together over its pages.
“Beautiful Ruins,” by Jess Walter, moves between Italy in the 1960s and the Pacific Northwest in the present, following a half-dozen characters, including the innkeeper, his long lost love, movie producers, writers and Burton.
Published in June of 2012 the story has garnered wide-spread praise. The New York Times termed it “a high-wire feat of bravura storytelling,” and Salon called it “a masterpiece ... damn near perfect.”
Walter will talk about his book at a 2 p.m., May 5, presentation at the Community Recreation Center, 3000 Glenview Road in Wilmette. Ticket information will be available closer to the date of his presentation.
“One Book, Everybody Reads,” developed as a community wide book reading and discussion program, has run for eight years and is funded by the Friends of the Wilmette Library. In addition to bringing in the book’s author, the program offers multiple events to help participants explore the book and connected themes.
As it has each year, the library will make multiple copies of “Beautiful Ruins” available to the public in various formats, librarian Barbara Goodman said.
Goodman, a member of the committee that chooses each year’s selection, said last week the group keeps several criteria in mind when doing so. A book should appeal to many different readers, lend itself to programming, and its author should be willing to take part in the program by visiting Wilmette in the spring, she said.
“We all start reading potential books the summer before, lots of books,” she said Jan. 31. “This one really struck all of us because we loved the humor, the very inventive style, and the beauty of the writing.”
Gooden said that when the committee selected “Beautiful Ruins” it was less well known to the public than previous selections. That makes its subsequent critically positive reception especially exciting.
Programs are being completed for this year’s program, with events set to start at the beginning of April. People can visit the library and its web site to learn more soon.
For the past three years, organizers had to move author presentations from the library to outside venues. Last year, 500 people took part in the program, reading Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder,” Goodman said.
Library Director Ellen Clark said the program’s steady growth in popularity came as organizers’ experience also matured, and they developed contacts with publishers and authors’ agents
“I now have people come up to me at meetings, saying ‘Have you chosen your book yet?’ So people have this on their calendars,” Clark said.
“I think it’s something the community has become proud of.”
For more information on “One Book, Everybody Reads” visit the library’s web site, at www.wilmette.lib.il.us/index.php, and access the “one book” tab on the top toolbar.