Marian Huggins, New Haven Free Public Library
From November 2015 to the present, the Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Group is still going strong. We meet at the Wilson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. Sometimes there are twelve of us, sometimes four. Regardless of the number of attendees, we always have a lively discussion. The next meeting is Jan. 6, 2018 at noon, when we’ll be discussing Wesley Lowery’s book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement.
The Urban Life Experience Book Discussion Series is not necessarily about urban themes or urban people (although often this is the case) but the Wilson Library is an urban library, and many of us live in urban locations. For clarity, the books we read are not urban literature or “street lit.” Most of the books we choose are non-fiction, although we have read two novels: Ben Winter’s Underground Airlines and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout. We normally choose books that have to do with African American history and social justice issues. Many of our sons, grandsons, nephews, and friends have fallen through the cracks of the education system or have had experiences with over-zealous police officers. Many of us have friends or family members who have had experiences in the criminal justice system. All of us, as citizens, have a stake in the political atmosphere in our country.
The overriding reason we’re in this book discussion group is that we love to read. In the past, most of us have gobbled up any book on the bestsellers lists, whether it had any bearing on our lives or not (and to be honest, I still sneak in some bestselling fiction in between and am sure that the rest of the group does as well). In addition to being book-lovers, most of us are seeking a way to make a meaningful contribution to our communities. Meeting every six weeks or so to discuss a thought-provoking book is the beginning of community building.
Wilson Branch, New Haven Free Public Library, 303 Washington Ave., (203) 946-2228.