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Madison Public Library Community Book Groups Continue Into the Fall

Each year Madison Public Library’s nine locations participate in Go Big Read by hosting community book discussions. MPL’s book discussions are typically long standing groups with a core group of regular attendees who welcome newcomers ready to listen, discuss and share the floor in exploration of the book and author. The list of remaining discussions is below.

Here are some reactions from librarians that have already hosted discussions this year.
Each quote is from a different librarian and book discussion group:

We attempted to understand the birth of the Taliban after the Soviet
troop withdrawal in 1989– their rise from religious to militant– and
why they had initial world support, including that of the Reagan and
Clinton administrations. It was interesting to learn the the Clinton’s
administration’s flirtation with the Taliban did not last long, as
Madeleine Albright, incensed by the Taliban’s treatment of women, halted it when she became Secretary of State.

Many found it a difficult read with the political overtones, the
anti-Americanism, the detailed historical religious perspective, the
terminology, and the American unfamiliarity with Pakistan specifically,
and Islam in general.  Some felt that the book would have held more
credibility if it hadn’t looked like Malala’s story was being
manipulated by adults with an agenda to sell books while Malala was
still in the headlines.  One attendee suggested that, ‘although he had
great respect for Malala, the book was obvious propaganda.

We discussed the amazing phenomenon of Malala herself and her wisdom
beyond her actual years, everyday life and family dynamics in Pakistan,
all things education, including who has the say over what goes into
children’s textbooks, whether or not kids here take education for
granted, etc., religion, religious extremism, the role of the U.S. in
the Middle East, how the people always get caught between their
government and the militants and often our government as well, and how
well that works out for everybody. I think people enjoyed the book and
Malala’s voice and loved Malala.

Many in our group were pleased this was a Go Big Read pick because UW
students would read it– and look beyond their borders and/or discover a
perspective on ‘the news’ that is more personal. The group also
appreciated reading more about the Taliban- both the history, the day to
day changes in Malala’s life because of them, and her courage in
standing up to them.

Quite a bit of time was spent thinking about/discussing the issue of
the co-author– how not knowing what Lamb’s role was or who wrote what
was distracting to the reader and opened up the possibility that this
book was not Malala’s story or beliefs totally. The group was very
interested to hear of the negative reaction to the book (and not Malala)
in Pakistan.

*Discussions continue at our libraries and Book Discussion Kits are
available for private book groups (see below):

Wednesday, October 22, 6:30-8:00pm at Meadowridge Library, 5740 Raymond
Rd., Madison, WI, 53711, 288-6160

Thursday, October 23, 1:00-2:00pm at Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd.,
Madison, WI, 53711, 266-6385

Wednesday, November 5, 6:00-7:30pm at Monroe Street Library, 1705 Monroe
St., Madison, WI, 53711, 266-6390

Thursday, November 6, 6:30-7:45pm at Lakeview Library, 2845 N. Sherman
Ave., Madison, WI, 53704, 246-4547

Thursday, November 13, 12:00-1:00pm at Lakeview Library, 2845 N. Sherman
Ave., Madison, WI, 53704, 246-4547

Tuesday, November 25, 7:00-8:00pm at Pinney Library, 204 Cottage Grove
Rd., Madison, WI, 53716, 224-7100

*Click here to borrow Book Discussion Kits from MPL

Madison Public Library has bought over 100 copies of I am Malala to lend
to private book groups. Kits are lent on a first come, first served
basis– no holds or reserves allowed. While all kit copies are out as of
this blog post, experience shows we’ll have many copies to lend again in
the late fall- typically mid-November. To borrow a kit you’ll need a
valid library card from one of the libraries in the South Central
Library System (which includes Madison Public Library.) Call 266-6300
for more information. You may borrow as many copies as your group needs
and choose your due date (within reason!) The discussion guide included
with the kit contains reviews, additional background information on
Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai and discussion questions.

Written by: Liz Amundson, Madison Public Library Reference Librarian