Can a war that ended a century ago create a sense of community? Perhaps. With the help of a book, a movie, a huge exhibit and a bunch of events.
The One Community One Book initiative is featuring Ernest Hemingway's classic novel A Farewell to Arms. This book, set during World War I in Italy, was selected to recognize 2018 as the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918.
The idea behind this library-centric One Community One Book program is to generate a sense of community by creating the powerful shared experience of reading the same book, leading to opportunities to enlighten and encourage dialogue. World War I is a particularly poignant topic, and A Farewell to Arms is a classic, fictional way to understand it.
As World War I raged in Europe, Ernest Hemingway became an ambulance driver in Italy for the Red Cross. After being wounded and a period of recuperation, he became a foreign correspondent, which profoundly impacted his literary style. He moved to Paris and joined a group of expatriate writers. Hemingway captures the impact of the brutality and chaos of war on the psyche of a generation in his novel A Farewell to Arms.
You can begin your involvement in One Community One Book at the North Park Theatre this weekend. A Farewell to Arms starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones will be on the big screen in this historic theatre at 11:30am on both Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15. Once you've seen this classic 1957 movie, reading the book will be a breeze. Copies of A Farewell to Arms are available to borrow at public libraries throughout WNY. In fact, there are even "A Farewell to Arms book kits" available on loan for book clubs.
Then plan to attend the Ten-Minute Play Festival: WNY Playwrights Celebrate ‘Buffalo Never Fails’ on Thursday, April 19, featuring staged readings of original plays inspired by selected artifacts in the Buffalo Never Fails Exhibit at the Central Library.
Now you are fully prepared for One Community One Book World War I Day at the Downtown Central Library. On Saturday, May 5 there will be guided tours of Buffalo Never Fails: The Queen City and WWI exhibition, a “Donut Girls” program for kids, talks on the War’s legacy and influence on Hemingway’s writing, and a WWI music program, including Over There and other songs. Free and open to the public!
One Community One Book uses books as a way to provide a community with a shared experience. A small group of book people--librarians, booksellers, publishers--under the direction of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has taken this excellent concept to the next level in WNY, adding movies, book talks and even a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon to the mix. Be part of it!