By NEMS Daily Journal
An exhibition of student art at the GumTree Museum tonight officially opens the 2012 edition of Tupelo Reads, the second citywide literary celebration focused on a single book announced in the spring and promoted for summer reading.
“Gilead” is a novel by Marilynne Robinson about an elderly minister who writes his life story so that his young son can better know him following the minister’s death.
The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Education, which organizes the yearly event, selected the novel in March and has encouraged all Tupelo citizens to explore it in preparation for the events this week and next.
The student art show, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight at GumTree, features works inspired by “Gilead.”
Discussion continues Wednesday with the Lee County Library’s monthly “Lunching With Books” event, featuring Mississippi State University lecturer in English, Kate Salter, and her father, syndicated columnist Sid Salter, reviewing the novel. Sid Salter’s columns are published on the Daily Journal’s opinion pages.
The 11:30 a.m. event features a light catered lunch available for purchase, but there is no admission fee.
On Oct. 2, a week from today, the event continues with three Tupelo ministers – all pastors – discussing the novel in a roundtable at the Lee County Library. The 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. event on the library’s main floor will have expanded seating capacity for people to hear Bryan Collier, senior pastor of The Orchard, David Eldridge, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist, and Tom Groome, senior pastor at First Presbyterian, discuss the book and how it can be viewed through the pastoral/ministerial experience.
Last year’s inaugural Tupelo Reads program centered around the nonfiction work “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom and featured a month of community events including a movie in the park and a play at the Lyric Theatre.
Community reading events have proliferated across the United States, with participants and organizers often affirming them as relationship-building experiences across the lines that sometimes discourage community intra-action.
Books with widely appealing themes and stories vary from community to community and region to region, but compelling stories often create unexpected common ground.
Community reading programs involving adults and children are much more than occupiers of summer time. The broader impact, of course, is to encourage literacy and appreciation for literature.
Communities of all kinds have made literacy and reading a priority. The mayor’s task force has pushed Tupelo into a deepening stream of communities dedicated to intellectual nurture.