Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.
She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.
For more information on this speaker, author Sadeqa Johnson, please visit www.simonspeakers.com.
WHAT IS COMMUNITYREAD?
CommunityREAD is a month-long community event that encourages reading and promotes the benefits of literacy. It was originally created by the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in 2003. The administration of CommunityREAD was assumed by the library in 2012. Each year, a different book is chosen and read by community members. Various events are planned throughout the month of March at the library and throughout the community to celebrate literacy. CommunityREAD is funded by a Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation grant, as well as the library’s general fund, and business and private sponsors. For more information on CommunityREAD, please call us at 419-422-1712.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD COMMUNITYREAD BOOK?
When looking for possible CommunityREAD titles, we are searching for books with several important qualities. First, since the foundation of CommunityREAD is the idea that community members will read a book and then share it with others, the book needs to provide topics to discuss. This should be a topic, or topics, that could appeal to a wide audience. The best books will have something of interest to both men and women and adults of all ages and life stages. While no one book will appeal to everyone, we look to appeal to as many as possible.
A CommunityREAD title should also be an enjoyable read. The writing should be of good quality and the plotline should engage the reader. Extremely lengthy titles can be intimidating to some. Also, because CommunityREAD is celebrated over the course of one month, the length of the book should allow the average reader to read it during the 30-day period. We believe a reasonable length is 350 to 400 pages.
To keep the cost reasonable for both the library budget and for readers who purchase their own copies of the book, the selected title needs to be available in paperback.
THE BOOK I RECOMMENDED MEETS THOSE CRITERIA. WHY DIDN’T YOU CHOOSE IT?
In addition to the above criteria, library staff must also consider some additional factors. Since an author visit is the Feature Event for CommunityREAD month, it is important that the selected author is a good speaker. We look for speaking samples online and, when possible, contact other libraries who have hosted an author to learn about their experience.
An author must also be affordable. Many bestselling authors charge very high speaking fees. Generally, CommunityREAD authors will command between $5,000 and $20,000. It is also important that an author be available for a visit to Findlay during the March/April timeframe.
Many great books meet all of these important criteria. Library staff members read and discuss as many options as possible before compiling a short list of options for our CommunityREAD committee. The short list typically includes both fiction and nonfiction options.
I JUST READ A GREAT BOOK. HOW CAN I RECOMMEND IT FOR COMMUNITYREAD?
We love to hear about great books! If you’ve read something you think would make a good CommunityREAD book, please tell us about it. Any library staff member will be happy to pass your title along to the Staff Selection Committee.
WHO’S ON THE COMMUNITYREAD COMMITTEE?
The CommunityREAD committee is a group of 10 community members representing a wide segment of the community. Committee members each serve a two-year term, staggered so that half of the committee is replaced each year. Committee members are selected by the library director.
PREVIOUS COMMUNITYREAD SELECTIONS
- 2003 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
- 2004 The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews and The Traveler’s Gift by Mark Kimball Moulton
- 2005 Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam and Blueberries for the Queen by John and Katherine Patterson
- 2006 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
- 2007 Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde and Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed written by Emily Pearson
- 2008 The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern
- 2009 Marley & Me, Marley, A Dog Like No Other, and Bad Dog, Marley! all by John Grogan
- 2010 Teach with Your Heart by Erin Gruwell, The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco and Don’t Be Silly Mrs. Millie by Judy Cox
- 2011 Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Best Friends Forever by Beverly Patt, A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and Yoko’s Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells
- 2012 Still Alice by Lisa Genova, The Graduation of Jake Moon by Barbara Park and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
- 2013 The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett, The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz and Flower Garden by Even Bunting
- 2014 The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, and Raul Colon and Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
- 2015 Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, I Survived: Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis, I'm the Scariest Thing in the Jungle! by David G. Derrick, Jr., Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen
- 2016 The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
- 2017 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids Collection by Sean Covey
- 2018 Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo, Maddie’s Fridge by Lois Brandt, Wish by Barbara O’Connor, Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
- 2019 The Only Child by Rhiannon Navin , The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, The Distance to Home by Paula Saunders, Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
- 2020/2021 Before We Were Yours and the book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate, A Home for Leo by Vin Vogel, Just Right Family by Silvia Lopez, Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez, Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson, Clean Getaway by Nic Stone