What’s your favorite book? That’s the question KUED, in conjunction with PBS’s The Great American Read, has been asking Utahns all summer long — at the Farmer’s Market, the Pride Festival, Craft Lake City and elsewhere. “This isn’t meant to be a list of the best books written, but more a list of the best-loved books,” says KUED community engagement coordinator and 15 Bytes regular Laura Durham. So, not necessarily Tolstoy or Faulkner. More “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” “The frontrunners at our events are usually Harry Potter and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she says, “but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see people voting for books that are a little more under the radar and listening to them argue with their friends and family about their choices. Turns out people are passionate about the books they read.”
In 2017, PBS did extensive polling to come up with a list of America’s best-loved novels. There are plenty of the titles you may have read in high school English class, some time-honored favorites like “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Anne of Green Gables,” thrillers like “Jurassic Park” and “The Hunt for Red October,” and even recent sensations like “Fifty Shades of Grey.” A series exploring these best-loved novels will air on PBS beginning Sept.11.
KUED received a grant to produce its own mini-documentaries, which will air locally during the series. “The producers wanted to focus on a theme,” Durham says, “and chose to focus on works that explore the author’s relationship to the land, to their homeland.” They chose to spotlight veteran photographer and writer Stephen Trimble and first-time self-published author Michelle Tago-Tu’itupou to explore how their hometowns have influenced their writing and their stories.
As a writer, editor, and photographer, Trimble has published more than 20 award-winning books in his long career. He likes to say, “Gotta write. If not, I get depressed. Photography brings me great joy, but writing takes everything I’ve got.” The documentary will touch on two of his latest books: “Bargaining for Eden” and “Red Rock Stories.” The latter is a collection of essays and poems that argue for protecting America’s public lands, with a focus on Bears Ears.
A writer born and raised in American Samoa, Tago-Tu’itupou just published “Person of Shadows,” a young adult novel that follows Keaka and her brother Alika on a perilous journey seeking help from the gods to save what is left of their broken family. “I wrote this novel because our Pasifika stories need to be heard, not only by our own communities, but by others so there will be a better understanding of who we are and the rich cultures we carry with us,” the author says.
KUED is hosting an event at Broadway Centre Cinemas in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to launch the new series with refreshments and a book exchange. Those who bring a book to donate to the exchange will get a free copy of either Trimble’s or Tago-Tu’itupou’s book. They’ll also get a chance to meet the authors, watch an advanced screening of one of The Great American Read episodes, and clips from the documentaries on Trimble and Tago-Tu’itupou.
UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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