Friday, January 11, 2013

The Joy Luck Club is Lake County’s Big Read

NEA Big Read: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Lake County Big Read has announced this year’s selection, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. A fundraising event takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Lower Lake Historic Schoolhouse Museum, located at 16435 Morgan Valley Road.

Lake County participated for the first time in 2011 in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)’s Big Read, with a variety of activities.

“Featured writer Edgar Allan Poe, 150 years post mortem, touched the lives of many teens with his descriptive, poetic language and obsessive fear of entrapment and oppression,” Big Read project director Robin Fogel-Shrive wrote in a column in the Lake County Record-Bee. “It was wonderful to see these kids value Poe’s literary merit and relate to personal struggles as emerging, but not quite, adults.”

“Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club is itself a joyful study in luck,” according to the NEA. “An intricately patterned novel whose author thought she was writing a short-story collection, it is also a mother-daughter saga by a writer whose own mother wanted her to be anything but a writer.”

At the time of its publication in 1989, Tan was an an unknown first-time writer. According to the NEA, “The Joy Luck Club became a reviewers’ darling and then an international best seller. The novel tells the story of new waves of immigrants who are changing and enriching America.”

I appreciate the shared experience of reading a book in common; my most recent “common read” was Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, the 2013 selection of Cuesta College where I take distance-ed classes.

According to Fogel-Shrive, the date of the Feb. 10 fundraiser was scheduled for Chinese New Year to tie in with the novel selection. A movie based on the novel will be screened during the event. Chinese New Year refreshments, such as jasmine tea and almond cookies, will be served.

The suggested donation for tickets is $10. Tickets can be purchased at Watershed Books, 305 N. Main St. in Lakeport; Mountain High Coffee and Books, 18983 Hartmann Road in Hidden Valley Lake and 16295 Highway 175 in Cobb; and at the museum.

People who cannot attend the event and who would like to contribute can purchase tickets that will be donated to a Lake County teacher or librarian.

Fogel-Shrive said the Big Read program month has been set for October. The program month will include  reading discussions and cultural activities. For more information, email

The NEA website offers a variety of resources to enrich reading of The Joy Luck Club: the preface, reader’s guide, teacher’s guide, audio guide and films at

Published Jan. 16, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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