Four counties bond in ‘Mr. Penumbra’s’ secret society

​2014 Community Read invites readers to engage in activities inspired by the novel

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Feb. 25, 2014 — Cabarrus, Davidson, Rowan and Stanly county residents are bonding in the bind of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan. Through the 4-1-1 Community Read, the four counties will unite around one book to form one community. The project gives residents an opportunity to read and discuss a single book together for pleasure and enlightenment, while participating in more than 60 events that center around the book’s themes. The feature event is a large-scale Quest for the Code and the project will wrap with a four-county book tour by the author, Robin Sloan.
 
Cabarrus County Public Library System is leading the Community Read collaboration, which includes a committee of public libraries, parks departments, community colleges and other community partners from each county.
 
The last Community Read took place in 2012 and was centered on “The Hunger Games.” The events soared in popularity and culminated with more than 275 participants, ages 3 to 70, running a massive obstacle course.
 
This year’s selection, “Mr. Penumbra,” is a gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. 
 
“The committee selected ‘Mr. Penumbra,’ because it covers a wide gamut of themes, including a love for printed books and the amazing things that can happen with technology,” said Dana Eure, director of the Cabarrus County Public Library System. “It’s a fun read with a mystery and a quest. There’s a lot of opportunity for discussion, as well as events that include art, technology and more. It’s appropriate for adult readers, but does have appeal for older teen audiences as well.”
 
The library checkout counter is just the beginning for residents who want to journey into the secret society created by Sloan.
 
Community Read activities are geared toward adult audiences with some programming for teens and children. They will take place in March and early April, in each of the participating counties. Take part in book discussions; technology programs, including Minecraft, Wikipedia, crowdsourcing, blogging and geocaching; and creative programs, like altered books, stamping and a photowalk. Participants can also journey on book-lover field trips and join in contests.
 
With “Mr. Penumbra,” participants can illuminate their imaginations and compete for prizes at the free Quest for the Code event on March 15 at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. The Quest includes physical and mental challenges, based on the book, including glow-in-the-dark obstacle courses, black light geocaching, riddles, puzzles, trivia and more. You can participate as a team, individual or family group to solve The Founder’s Puzzle.
 
The book tour and presentations featuring author Robin Sloan will take place April 3-5. Books will be available for purchase and Sloan will be available for autographs. Sloan’s presentations are supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
 
For a complete listing of events, visit www.411CommunityRead.wordpress.com. Stay informed and become part of the 4-1-1 community by joining the project’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/411CommunityRead.
“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is available in hard copy or electronically at all libraries in Cabarrus, Davidson, Rowan and Stanly counties.