This spring, plan to spend three Monday evenings at the Valley Center Public Library to join in the discussions of three books that make us laugh. The Library is partnering with Humanities Kansas to host three free TALK About Literature in Kansas events. Humanities Kansas connects communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life. In 2018 it supported 679 events in 116 Kansas communities, reaching nearly one in six Kansans.
We are often told that “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter has also made for some of the best reading since the time of the ancient Greeks. Books that make us laugh are often just plain fun to read, as can be seen by their regular presence on bestseller lists. At the same time, the very best funny books are also much more. In the hands of master writers, humor helps us look (warts and all) at what it is to be human and what makes society tick – two topics at the heart of the humanities.
The first book TALK, at 7 PM on Monday, Feb. 17, will be I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. In this collection of essays written for a London magazine, Bryson wonders what modern America looks like to an American newly returned after twenty years in England. Though often bemused by surface absurdities (such as dental floss hotlines), Bryson is fundamentally both loving and appreciative of the core of American life. The book discussion will be facilitated by Marilyn Klaus, former lecturer of Religious Studies and African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas. She received her M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas and M.Div. from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries. Klaus joined the TALK program in 2008.
Our second book TALK, scheduled for 7 PM on Monday, Mar. 16, is The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. Betty MacDonald writes about her years as a young bride in the late 1920s, which she spent with her less-than-realistic new husband on a very primitive chicken farm in rural Washington state. Sister Rosemary Kolich will lead our second and third TALKS. She teaches English for the University of Saint Mary at both the main campus in Leavenworth and the Overland Park campus. Kolich joined the TALK program in 2008.
Our final book TALK in this series, which is scheduled for 7 PM on Monday, Apr. 13, is In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. Shepherd’s wildly witty reunion with his Indiana hometown recalls the days when happiness was a Red Ryder BB gun and station wagons roamed the earth. Rosemary Kolich will lead this TALK (see her Bio above)
Books for the discussion series may be checked out at the Library.