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Story Last modified at 9:28 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anchorage Reads focuses on book clubs, Alexie novels

Anchorage Reads, the library's six-week, winter reading program, kicks off the fifth annual One Book Community Read on Feb. 1 with an open house for local book clubs and people interested in joining one. The purpose of Anchorage Reads is to encourage people of all ages throughout the city to read the same book, discuss it and attend programs that focus on the book and its themes. This year's selection is the award-winning, challenging and thought-provoking "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian," by Sherman Alexie.


Based on Alexie's own experiences, "Part-time Indian" is an excellent vehicle for discussion whether in a book club or around the family dinner table. The book's central character, Arnold, a 14-year-old, Spokane Indian, bravely takes steps to better his life beyond the confines of his race and circumstances by leaving the reservation to go to an all-white school more than 20 miles away. Balancing humor and tragedy, Alexie creates a character that anyone who has endured high school can identify with while exploring universal themes such as prejudice, alcoholism and its consequences, bullying, isolation and fear.

If you are a member of a book club or interested in joining one, come to this gathering in the Ann Stevens Room on the third floor of Loussac between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Meet other book club members, exchange reading suggestions, success stories and dismal failures. Share information about your club. How long have you been together? How do you pick your books? Do you do matching food? Did you know that your library offers book club bags, each with 10 copies of the book and a reader's guide, that you can check out for six weeks?

Peruse our book club bag selection and check out a book club bag of our Anchorage Read's title. Learn some tips for engaging your members in stimulating book discussions.

Staff has created a how-to list along with a list of several dozen websites that focus on book clubs including some that offer cut rates for books. Sign up for door prizes and have some snacks while learning how to organize and run your own book club.

Events planned in connection with the 2011 Anchorage Reads so far are:

• Author Dana Stabenow talks about the latest in her Kate Shugak series, "Though Not Dead" as well as growing up in Alaska and her life as a best-selling mystery author. 3-5 p.m. Feb. 5, Loussac, Wilda Marston Theatre

• Join the Loussac Book Club's discussion of "Part-time Indian" 3 p.m. Feb. 12, in the Ann Stevens Room at Loussac.

• Cartoonist Chad Carpenter is featured at the monthly meeting of the Alaska Writers Guild 7-9 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Wilda Marston Theatre. Like Arnold in "Part-time Indian," Carpenter explores his world via cartoons.

Toni M. McPherson is the community relations coordinator for APL. Reach her at

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.