One Book One Valley brings our community together Estes Valley Library > Posts > One Book One Valley brings our community together   |  print this page  

by Katherine Weadley, Programs & Outreach Supervisor

“An unread book is like a silent room no one enters — whereas, a book read community-wide becomes a room that’s festive, exciting, and filled with learning and friendship,” said Dr. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of this year’s community-chosen One Book One Valley, The Mountains Sing, a multi-generational tale set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam war. 

With an international and award-winning author live-streaming from Kyrgyzstan, the solitary act of reading transformed into a community-wide experience – we became connected, learning together, and sharing the emotions of the story. We felt united as a community in dialogue and page-turning togetherness.   

While the live January 29 event registered 133 views, many more were watching, as that included spouses and friends sharing screens. One patron hosted a Vietnamese dinner party for eight, then streamed the event for their guests. Locals on vacation watched from Arizona and Virginia, bringing people together from disparate places that evening to inspire conversations across generations and cultures. A patron commented “I loved the sense of community and seeing that I knew many others in the Zoom call.”

With 16 programs for all ages, January’s events reconnected us with the great resources found at our hometown library, as we enjoyed activities aligned around the book’s themes. This included big-screen viewings of the movie Good Morning, Vietnam, a popular travelogue program, three Grab & Go Kits for children, and Maker activities for teens. Thanks goes to the One Book One Valley Committee, consisting of staff and community volunteers.

A special Vietnamese crepe dish, Bánh xèo, was featured on the January menu at Bird and Jim Restaurant specifically for this event. Executive Chef Thomas Newsted lived in Việt Nam for the first seven years of his life. 

“We’ve garnered great feedback and tons of questions along the way, from beginning to end,” said Newsted. “From how to say the featured dish, how to eat it, to what is Nuoc Cham. We ended up using just over 2.5 gallons of Nuoc Chamn (fish sauce – which is a lot). The guest engagement was really fun, especially when I find myself at the table giving a demonstration to the guest,” he said.

It takes a community to make community events. It’s a great way to celebrate partnerships, including Reel Mountain Theater and Macdonald Book Shop. Of course, nothing would be possible without the Library Friends & Foundation and the generous donors who support this shared literary experience! 

However, we aren’t finished. Share your thoughts and questions about the book on Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. at the “Pop-up Discussion” led by volunteer Kate Lunz and moderator Heather Heinz on Zoom (click here to sign up). This spring, we’ll be distributing a limited supply of keepsake copies of “The Mountain Sing”. Later this year, watch for details on the finalists for the next One Book One Valley. Thanks to everyone who took part!