Home, community, and a sense of place have taken on new meaning in the past year. With that in mind — and using direct input from area residents — Centre County Reads has chosen “The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power” as its 2021 community read.
“The Address Book” highlights the hidden stories behind street addresses and their power to decide who counts, who doesn’t–and why. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it’s in their capacity to ensure that the postal service can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses weren’t invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you.
Exploring the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany, author Deirdre Mask uncovers what having an address (or not) means for millions of people around the world, whether it’s in the slums of India or the parks of England.
“In late summer, we surveyed Centre Region residents to first learn whether they were interested in having the community read program in 2021–which was an overwhelming, “yes”–and also about topics that may resonate,” said Maria Burchill, Schlow Library’s head of adult services and a member of the Centre County Reads committee. “’The Address Book’ hits on all aspects of that feedback. We thought it would offer a compelling read at this moment, plus offer unique insight into something that, on its surface, seems ordinary but dramatically influences all aspects of our life.”
Centre County Reads will officially kick off its 2021 virtual program later in January including author visit dates, book discussion opportunities, and activities related to this year’s selection. Check centrecountyreads.org for information and schedules.
Chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2020, The Address Book also was a finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction and was long-listed for the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards.
Deirdre Mask graduated from Harvard College and attended University of Oxford before returning to Harvard for law school, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She completed a master’s in writing at the National University of Ireland. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. Originally from North Carolina, she has taught at Harvard and the London School of Economics and currently lives in London.
Centre County Reads started in 2003 with “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The project encourages county residents of all ages to explore the human condition and community issues by reading and discussing the same book. Past selections include “A Walk in the Woods,” “The Book Thief,” “Beautiful Ruins,” “Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird” by Penn State alumna Katie Fallon, and last year’s choice,”Charming Billy.”
Coordinators for Centre County Reads include the Penn State Center for American Literary Studies; Centre County Library & Historical Museum; Pennsylvania Center for the Book; Schlow Centre Region Library; the State College, Philipsburg-Osceola, Penns Valley, and Bellefonte area school districts; and Schlow Library Foundation.