Authors Praise One Read

Andrea Barrett2011 marks ten years of our community reading together. In honor of this anniversary, a number of the authors and featured speakers from past years’ programs have sent notes of congratulations and provided kind words about their experiences participating in One Read. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing their words with you. After all, your participation and support is what makes this program great!

Author Andrea Barrett traveled to Mid-Missouri in 2009, the year our community read her book “The Air We Breathe.” She has this to say about her visit:

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About Andrea Barrett and “The Air We Breathe”

About the Author

Andrea BarrettAndrea Barrett did not start out to be a fiction writer; she wanted to be a scientist. “I really wanted to be Darwin in a skirt wandering through the Galapagos or the Amazon naming birds and trees,” she says. Instead, Barrett has translated her fascination with science and the natural world into award-winning novels and short stories. Barrett is especially drawn to the history of exploration and the suffering men and women were willing to endure in the pursuit of knowledge. The “Voyage of the Narwhal” (1998) tells of a harrowing expedition to the Arctic, while in the title story from “Ship Fever,” a doctor struggles through a typhus epidemic.
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Comments from Author Andrea Barrett

Andrea Barrett“I’m particularly delighted to have ‘The Air We Breathe’ chosen for Columbia’s One Read program, as the idea of small groups gathering to discuss subjects of common interest is central to the novel itself. When I was inventing the discussion group at the center of the novel, I was thinking about both the workmen’s reading circles and study groups so popular at the time, and also my own experience of writers’ groups, which were central to my education (and which often met in libraries—hooray for libraries!) People confined to public sanatoria in the early part of the 20th century were commonly lumped together–as immigrants, as the indigent, as patients carrying a dreaded contagious disease—into someone else’s convenient categories. One way for them to maintain their individuality was for them to gather as a group defined by their own interests and their own stories, rather than by the preconceptions of outsiders.

The link to the reading groups popular in our time isn’t coincidental; I cherish these and think they’re an immensely valuable way to share our interests and passions for literature and for life.”

Best wishes,