From Guest-Bloggers Dean Sara Baron & Associate Librarian Harold Henkel, Regent University Library:
A study of reading habits from 2003 revealed startling statistics. One-third of high school graduates never read another book after high school; 42% of college graduates never read another book after college. It is no surprise that organized book clubs, such as Oprah’s Book Club, have grown so rapidly in the time since this data was gathered. The Library Book Club at Regent University was founded in 2008 to encourage reading literature for pleasure. In our seven years, we have read many classic and modern works portraying many different kinds of families, including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Tevya the Dairyman, and And the Mountains Echoed.
This summer, the Book Club read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. First published in 1960, Lee’s only novel was a cultural shock to America for its discussion of sensitive issues of race, violence, and justice, but it soon became a classic in American literature for how it innocently approached these sensitive subjects.
It is also a picture of family life on many levels and in many fashions. Atticus Finch, a single father dealing with the early death of his wife and with a rising career in law and politics, is “doing the best he could do” with two precocious children. The children learn about sensitive issues that surround families in the small Alabama community and approach each with child-like innocence. A good family read since its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to have lessons for contemporary readers about community, parenting, and family restoration.
One of the most famous openings in literature is the beginning of Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Owing to the reputation of Anna Karenina, readers have tended to accept Tolstoy’s claim as a nugget of aphoristic wisdom. According to essayist David P. Goldman, however, Tolstoy got it exactly backwards: “…unhappy families are all unhappy in the same way. It is happy families that are different, because every child is radically unique, such that raising children is the one human activity that is sure to surprise.”
Goldman’s riposte to Tolstoy illustrates why it is essential that we read literature throughout our lives: to gain a new perspective, to see the world through other people’s eyes, and to “converse” with the great authors through engagement with their works. The Library Book Club invites readers of Family Restoration to join us in our eighth year as we explore together ten great classic and modern novels. A complete schedule for 2014-2015 will be posted soon on the Book Club website.
Family restoration happens one family at a time.