One Book initiative gathers community to read together

Carla Damron lives in Columbia, and the capitol city is the setting of her newest novel, “The Stone Necklace.” Those facts were just the beginning of what made her book the choice for Richland Library’s “One Book, One Community” event.

Carla Damron, author of "The Stone Necklace" (photo provided)

Carla Damron, author of “The Stone Necklace” (photo provided)

The initiative is an effort to build community by encouraging everyone in the area to read “The Stone Necklace” during February and to take part in discussing it at any of numerous planned events.

“Carla’s book was very local, very identifiable, and something that we thought would really invigorate the community in terms of reading,”said Richland Library Programs Manager Clo Cammarata. She and other members of the library team worked with staff from One Columbia Arts and History and Jasper Magazine to make the selection.

One week into February, the initiative seems to have caught on. All 300 of the library’s copies of the book were checked out as of Friday, and only 12 physical copies remained for sale on Amazon.com.

“I feel incredibly honored to be in this position and having people ask me questions in the store,” Damron said. The novel is her fourth, but it is a departure from her first three, which were all mysteries. Damron said “The Stone Necklace” was in the works for more than six years. “I would work on it and then break up with it and lock it in the closet and then pull it back out.”

Cammarata said another reason for this choice was the story’s accessibility.

“It’s a beautiful story. It has a lot of issues and threads in it that are all interwoven,” she said. “It also has something that would really grab people’s attention and someone who might not normally read might be very interested.”

[stextbox id=”black” caption=”Upcoming One Book, One Community Events” collapsing=”false” collapsed=”false” mode=”css” direction=”ltr” shadow=”true” float=”true” align=”right” width=”250″]

6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Hollings Program Room, University of South Carolina Thomas Cooper Library
An Evening with Story River Books – One Book, One Community novelist Carla Damron will be joined by fellow Story River Books writers, all with USC connections: Ellen Malphrus (“Untying the Moon”), Eric Morris (“Jacob Jump”) and John Mark Sibley-Jones (“By the Red Glare”). Free and open to the public.

7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 11 at Tapp’s Arts Center at 1644 Main St. in Columbia
Vicky Saye Henderson, actress, educator, and narrator for the audiobook edition of “The Stone Necklace,” will lead an empathy-themed improv workshop drawn from the characters, scenes and themes of the One Book, One Community selection.

noon to 2 p.m., Friday, Feb 12 at Uptown Gifts at 1204 Main St. in Columbia
Book signing with novelist Carla Damron. Free and open to the public.

Information on more events available here.

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The novel focuses on four people of very different backgrounds whose lives intersect as a result of a car crash.

“It’s about recovery as well,” Damron said. The book has no connection to the October floods that devastated many parts of the Columbia area, but the author said, “It’s kind of timely in that we are recovering, Columbia is recovering.”

The One Book, One Community team has planned events in conjunction with the book choice.

“One thing they’ve done that I love is this intersection of lots of art. Last week, I got to hear a song that was written based on a scene in my novel, which moved me more than I can say,” Damron said.

stone necklaceA photography exhibit inspired by the novel also is planned, along with jewelry making classes in which people can learn to make stone necklaces and even improvisational acting classes based on the novel. Of the acting classes, Damron laughed and said, “I’m going to be there and hope they don’t make me do anything. It’s all really very inventive.”

She said the novel touches many different parts of the community.

“I wanted to represent the layers. Columbia is a fascinating place. We’re a patchwork quilt,” she said. “These lives are woven together but they live in very different worlds in Columbia.”

Cammarata said the familiar setting adds to the accessibility.

“As a reader in this community, it’s like ‘Oh, I know where she’s talking about,’ ” she said.

Damron did warn readers that though Columbia is the setting, it is a slightly changed version from the one readers see every day.

“It’s fiction, so I move stuff around,” she said with a smile.

The book is not intended for children, but Damron said teens could enjoy it.

“There is a teenage girl in it and I think she will resonate with a younger crowd,” she said.

Cammarata said the interactive parts of the initiative are a big part of the month.

“The idea is as a community, let’s have a focus on one title, but here are so many people reading it, there are different perspectives, so having the discussion go with the title is very, very important,” she said.

Damron said she hopes the initiative will lead to kindling or rekindling a love of books in some people.

“I hope people that are reading this book that maybe haven’t read in a long time will then be inspired to pick up reading again,” she said. “There are so many screens in your life. It’s easy to get away from it.”

The book is available as a physical book or download from the library, though there might be a waiting list. An audio book version is also available. A portion of proceeds from copies purchased here goes to support library programs.

More information on Damron’s appearances and other One Book, One Community events is available here.

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