NEARLY 10 YEARS AGO, Lake Forest Library—with the support of community partners including Friends of Lake Forest Library—launched Lake Forest Reads, a month-long, citywide reading program where the community reads one book. Based on the “One City One Book” program that takes place in more than 70 communities nationwide, its primary mission is to foster literacy, a culture of reading, and a sense of community. This October, Lake Forest Reads will feature Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict, the story of Rosalind Franklin, the scientist whose work contributed to a better understanding DNA, RNA, viruses, and more.
“Every year we strive to choose a title for Lake Forest Reads that resonates with our community, that is well written, and offers an opportunity to partner with other local organizations,” says Kate Buckardt, Head of Adult Services at Lake Forest Library. “Women in science, especially a scientist studying DNA, is vitally important right now. Children searching for birth parents, law enforcement looking to convict or exonerate criminals, and families wondering how big their puppies will grow all owe their answers to Rosalind Franklin. To be able to learn about Dr. Franklin through a compelling novel is such a gift. And to have a medical center named for her, just down the road, seemed like an opportunity to learn more about her and her role in the scientific community.”
The Hidden Genius, by Marie Benedict, shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were often hidden by the men around her, but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.
“Marie’s book brings our aunt to life in a way that is so relatable and shows more of her kind and generous personality in addition to her intellect and commitment to scientific pursuits,” says Rosalind Franklin, niece and namesake of the subject of this year’s selected book. “The library’s choice invites a broader audience to learn about her life and one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time—the secret of life. It’s also wonderful that the library has chosen to highlight a woman scientist that is connected deeper in this community by Rosalind Franklin University, which serves local residents and educates exceptional future healthcare professionals throughout the United States. It’s great to have partnerships like this to bring people together.”
As part of Lake Forest Reads, Lake Forest Library will host three separate events with Benedict, offering three different opportunities for the community to connect, ask questions, and get an understanding of the author, her writing process, and the novel. All programs and related events are free and open to the public.
“Lake Forest Reads provides us the chance to bring together a community of both avid readers and readers who may not always have time to finish a title but can still enjoy the related events,” Buckardt adds. “Each year, we partner with others in the community to host discussions and events—everything from cooking classes, art projects, discussions, historical lectures, writing contests, and movies that relate to a theme in this work or novel.”
The success of a program like this is largely based on its partnerships with local organizations. Lake Forest Library has worked with Ragdale, Lake Forest Book Store, Gorton Community Center, Dickinson Hall, and the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff in past years to name just a few. Lake Forest College also part of this esteemed group is proud to continue its collaboration with Lake Forest Library in rolling out this annual community program.
“The partnership between Lake Forest College and Lake Forest Library is a wonderful opportunity to share the pleasures of a community read,” says Davis Schneiderman, Krebs Provost and Dean of Faculty at Lake Forest College. “What’s better than a good book? It’s when cultural organizations sponsor activities of this kind, demonstrating by their programming not only the value of a great read, but the way in which the activities that surround a great read can animate important conversations.”
To learn more about Lake Forest Reads or to register for an event this October, visit lakeforestlibrary.org.