GR Reads focuses on community building

The Grand Rapids Public Library’s GR Reads program focuses on more than getting people to pick up a book. The program is designed as a community building opportunity with a variety of events spanning the summer.

Each year the Grand Rapids Public Library, or GRPL, selects 10 books in different genres and develops a handful of community events around each of those books.

For instance, Kristen Krueger-Corrado, GRPL marketing & communications manager, said this year’s horror story selection is “Horrorstör” by Grady Hendrix, and the library partnered with local furniture retailer Stonesthrow on Fright Night. Stonesthrow is hosting an after hours screening of the 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead,” which will include free movie snacks, cold beverages and zombie sightings. The event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m.

“Horrorstör” is described as a “traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting.” Krueger-Corrado said the book’s setting is an IKEA-type furniture store, making Stonesthrow a perfect partner.

San Chez Bistro also partnered with GR Reads this year on Painting and Pinot: Forge A Fake, where attendees are invited to sip wine while painting an imitation of a modern masterpiece. A local artist will guide everyone through the process. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on both Monday, Aug. 7 and Monday, Aug. 21.

Painting and Pinot is in honor of GR Reads selection “Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art” by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. The nonfiction book details one of the most “elaborate cons in the history of art forgery.”

Investigative reporters Salisbury and Sujo follow “villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist John Myatt” who “exploited the archives of British art institutions to legitimize the hundreds of pieces they forged, many of which are still considered genuine and hang in prominent museums and private collections today.”

“When we do GR Reads we have an opportunity to do fun out of the box things,” Krueger-Corrado said. “We do fun participatory things. In the past we’ve done a scavenger hunt. That is what GR Reads is about, getting together and experiencing things.”

GR Reads is in its eighth year and evolved out of the one book, one city concept other cities have done.

“We wanted to do something like that, but it was tough to pick one book, so we ended up picking 10,” Krueger-Corrado said. “We started creating programs around the 10 books. It’s an opportunity to take the library out into the community and maybe expose new audiences or people who haven’t used the library in a few years.”

While many people work their way through all 10 books during the summer, just as many are likely to pick and choose the books that interest them the most and only read those selections. Regardless, Krueger-Corrado said anyone is welcome to attend GR Reads events. She said last year GRPL recorded 4000 people who either checked out at least one of the GR Reads books or attended at lease one event.

GR Reads runs through Aug. 31. Visit GRPL to learn more and to read descriptions of the 10 books. Click on the specific books to find out about related GR Reads events.

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