Plymouth READS to Cultivate Community

by | Apr 2017

LuAnn Svendsen, chair of Plymouth READS

LuAnn Svendsen, chair of Plymouth READS. Photo: Rachel Nadeau

The annual community events are back for an eighth year.

It’s the eighth year of Plymouth READS, and this year’s book selection is set to give every reader a thrill. “After the selection committee read it, everyone [said] ‘This is the one,’” says LuAnn Svendsen, chair of Plymouth READS. “I made them read a few more anyways, but I knew it was going to be The Life We Bury.”

The literary mystery, written by Minnesota resident Allen Eskens, follows the story of college student Joe Talbert whose writing assignment for English class leads him to meet a convict who may have been falsely incarcerated. Plymouth READS will host four events that correspond with the book’s theme, starting with a kickoff celebration that will include a discussion with the Innocence Project of Minnesota. The foundation is a member of a network of independent organizations that work to free innocent people from prison and reform the causes of wrongful conviction.

“We’re planning to share why each exoneration proves that this issue can and must be addressed. We’re working to free the innocent and reaffirm the basic promise our justice system. These men and women depend on us,” says Heather Ring, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Minnesota.

False incarceration and guilt are themes Eskens felt strongly about when he was inspired to write The Life We Bury. Eskens practiced as a criminal defense attorney for more than 25 years. When he first entered the field, DNA evidence had just begun to be accepted by courts. It changed how cases were solved, giving the option to go back and reevaluate cases based on this new form of evidence. The result was a number of exonerated people.

“It was an easy fit to use in my novel,” Eskens says. “I witnessed a major change in the way crimes are processed and the effects of that change.” Eskens, will also be a part of Plymouth READS literary night on April 23. He’s participated in similar events and believes they’re a great way to introduce readers to new authors.

“I’m really looking forward to coming to Plymouth. It’s nice to have a committee bring books to their community that are relevant to a time and place, and just promote reading in general” says Eskens.

That’s exactly the mission behind Plymouth READS. One criteria of the book selection process is having a broad appeal that will encourage people to experience the joy of reading together. They also hope to foster learning and discovery in the community that could lead to larger conversations. The events aim to build compassion in Plymouth by challenging readers to better empathize with another’s experience and celebrate the diverse cultures and beliefs that exist in all communities.

“When two or more people read the same book, it’s a different shared experience than a million people watching the same show or reading the same tweet,” says Svendsen. “It really allows you to have an experience through someone else’s eyes and provides an understanding that no other medium can.”

Plymouth Reads events

  • Kickoff Celebration including discussion with Innocence Project of Minnesota: April 4, 7 p.m. at Plymouth Library
  • Movie Viewing: April 18, 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Library
  • Meet the Author: April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Creek Center
  • Innocence Project of MN Exhibit: On display for month of April at Plymouth Library
  • Book Discussion: April 22, 2 p.m. and April 25, 7 p.m. at Plymouth Library

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