CANTON Named in honor of world-renowned, Stark County-based author Dr. Audrey Lavin, the Stark County District Library’s new "Dr. Audrey Lavin Speaking of Books Author Series," has thus far accomplished what it was originally intended to do – and then some,
"This is the debut season and it is designed as a way to bring the community together, to start a conversation of and exemplifying literary excellence," district Community Engagement Specialist, Jen Walencik said. "For this area, it is pretty unique. There are author appearances at all branches, but these (in the Lavin series) are all New York Times bestselling authors."
The debut season kicked off Sept. 14 with 9/11 survivor and bestselling author Michael Hingson, whose book, "Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust" chronicles his escape from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center with the help of his guide dog, Roselle.
The next installment of the series, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Canton Palace Theatre, will feature Forrest Pritchard, a seventh-generation farmer whose book, "Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmer's Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm," was named a top read by Publishers Weekly,The Washington Post and NPR’s The Splendid Table.
Pritchard is also this Stark County’s One Book, One Community selection for 2016. One Book, One Community is a collaboration of several libraries in the area that encourages Stark County residents of all ages join together in reading a common book and share ideas through community conversation.
Gaining Ground recounts Prichard’s farming adventures as he attempts to make his family farm profitable for the first time in years. In 1996, when five tractor-trailer loads of grain reaped a meager $18.16 on harvest day, Pritchard realized his family’s farm must radically change course.
The following season, the Virginia-based farmer plowed new ground – literally and figuratively - devoting himself to farming organically and sustainable, raising free-range cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens. Pritchard’s Smith Meadows Farm is one of the oldest "grass finished" farms in the country.
"The farm-to-fork movement is so popular, it is a timely visit," Walencik said. "Plus it’s harvest time."
Walencik said Pritchard is also an example of the wide array of writers featured in the speaker series.
"When I read his book, I thought it would just be about farming, but (his story of) trying to overcome all these trials is fascinating," she said of the English major who ended up finding his life’s work back on the family farm.
"From a 9/11 survivor to a scholar turned free-range farmer – it’s quite a range," Walencik said.
And the community, she added, has been very supportive.
"We’ve had a great turnout and people are excited to have this opportunity here," Walencik said.
Each appearance includes the author about their book, followed by a question and answer session and a book signing.
Following Pritchard’s visit, the series will bring No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan on Feb. 15, 2017 and Garth Stein on April 11, 2017.
Free tickets to any of the author events are available at starklibrary.org.