Curling up with a good book during winter’s coldest, darkest weeks is one of life’s little pleasures, and Belgrade residents are invited to share the experience with each other this year during the city’s first-ever “One Book Belgrade” community reading event.
The Belgrade Library kicked off the event last week, and has scheduled events through February to bring people together to learn, discuss and be inspired by the novel, “Beneath a Scarlet Sky,” a World War II thriller by Bozeman author Mark Sullivan.
The novel is based on the true story of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager who joined an underground railroad to help Jews escape over the Alps and then was recruited to become the personal driver for General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
“We are just thrilled to have this opportunity, with a great bestseller by an author most enthusiastic about public libraries,” said library Director Gale Bacon. “This should be a great, successful community read.”
The Belgrade library has aspired to sponsor a “One Book” event for a long time, Bacon said, and this year the “perfect author” and a number of community sponsors joined the effort to bring it to fruition.
Already more than 40 people have signed up to participate, said Belgrade’s Adult Services Librarian Sarah Creech. Between now and the end of February, the community read-along will be enhanced by art classes and escape rooms for youth and adults, a panel discussion featuring experts on various subjects addressed in
the novel, and a presentation by the author.
Anyone who has read the book is invited to participate, and about 80 copies are available at the library in hardback, paperback, large-print and audio formats for two-week checkout periods. (Many of those copies were donated by the author and will be given away at his presentation on Feb. 20.) More information and online registration for the tie-in events are available on the library website at https://www.belgradelibrary.org/one-book-belgrade/.
Belgrade is the latest Montana city to jump on the “One Book” bandwagon. Community reading promotion projects, which are designed to connect people to literature through reading and discussion, are popular across the nation. The Bozeman library, in partnership with Montana State University, has held a “One Book” event for more than 10 years.
Creech said Belgrade’s librarians believe the book is the perfect first “One Book Belgrade” selection because it is a “fast read” with a lot of meat to it – the type that “will build the community up and be a conversation starter.
“We hope people enjoy the book,” she said.