92° F Friday, July 21, 2017

By Barbara Hathaway

Contributing Writer

One of my favorite annual programs at Bee Cave Public Library is our participation in Lake Travis Reads.

As many of you know, Lake Travis Reads is a “One Book, One Community” program jointly sponsored by three area libraries and their Friends groups: Bee Cave, Lake Travis Community Library, and Spicewood Community Library.

We started this program back in 2007 as a way to bring our diverse and far-flung neighborhoods together around a shared love of reading. Even though our libraries are not formally related in any way and are governed and funded by different entities, we serve the same Lake Travis-area neighborhoods and communities and share similar goals.

The “One Book, One Community” movement started in Seattle in 1998 and has spread around the world with citywide, statewide and even countrywide reading programs embracing the idea of civic unity through reading literature. The first year of Lake Travis Reads, our three small libraries chose Austin resident and running coach Gilbert Tuhabonye’s deeply moving account of genocide in Africa, “This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness.” The second year (before the scandal), we tackled Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace — One School at a Time.”

Although we had wonderful programs with thought-provoking speakers, the turnout for our culminating events was very low. Feedback from readers indicated a desire to meet authors and hear from them first-hand about their experiences writing their books.

In year three, we decided to focus on a particular author instead of one book, and invited everyone to read anything by the irrepressible Sarah Bird. When a crowd of 50 people turned out in a driving rainstorm to hear her talk — back when it used to rain — we knew we had found a winning formula.

Sarah’s bitingly funny novels skewering romance and high society in Austin proved very popular, and she was gracious enough to be our speaker for a very modest honorarium provided by the Friends of the three libraries.

In 2011, Ben Rehder’s Blanco County mysteries and other Texas-themed novels proved equally popular, and we had more men in the audience than at previous events. Last year, the international best-selling thriller-writer Jeff Abbott was equally entertaining and appealing to our wider community.

Now, after three years of novelists, we are returning again to nonfiction, and are delighted that this year’s featured author for Lake Travis Reads is Joe Nick Patoski whose most recent book is “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America.”

Even if you aren’t a Cowboys fan, the book’s take on the rise of Dallas and the rest of the Sun Belt in American politics and the economy makes for fascinating reading.

Not into football? Try one of Joe Nick’s biographies of Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Selena. He has also collaborated with renowned photographer Laurence Parent on books about Texas mountains, Big Bend and the Texas coast, and has written for Texas Monthly magazine and the Austin American-Statesman.

I recently heard him speak at a writers’ workshop and know he will be an engaging and entertaining speaker. So if you have the time, pick up one of his books at your local library or bookstore.

No time to read? Join us anyway for “An Evening with the Author” featuring Joe Nick Patoski on May 8 at 7 p.m. at the beautiful new Lake Travis Community Library on Lohmans Crossing in Lakeway.
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