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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 29, 2003

Area Readers Invited To 'Bel Canto' Discussion Forums

Those reading Ann Patchett's novel "Bel Canto" as part of the third annual reading program "One Community, One Book - Johnson County Reads" will have plenty of opportunities to meet other readers and share their reactions at any of the eight community discussion forums scheduled throughout Johnson County from late September through early November.

This county-wide reading project, formerly known as "All Johnson County Reads the Same Book," is sponsored by The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) and a variety of community and university groups. It is open to all community members interested in broadening their understanding of human rights through reading. A planning committee chose "Bel Canto" last spring, and the project runs from Sept. 22 to Nov.15.

Winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, "Bel Canto" is a moving and often surprising story of terrorism gone awry and the power of music to create unlikely connections between disparate people. It invites contemplation of a range of issues, including human rights concerns and aesthetic questions. Hailed as "A marvel of a book" by the Washington Post Book World, "Bel Canto" will appeal to a wide array of readers while sparking lively discussions.

Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs, says in its first three years the project has created diverse interest in reading throughout the community. For example, she says a book group has formed at the Iowa Medical Classification Center at Oakdale and has discussed nine books since a Johnson County community forum was held there last year. Under the direction of Kathy Leland, a representative of the Kirkwood Community College Education and Assessment Center, the book group is now reading "Bel Canto."

A schedule of the community forums, which are all free and open to the public, follows:

Sept. 25, 7 to 9 p.m. --Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Meeting Room A; Cosponsored by the Iowa City Public Library and Altrusa Club; Facilitator: Celia Burger; Contact: Marcy Rolenc 466-1451

Sept. 30, 7 to 8:30 p.m. -- St. Mary's Church Hall (entrance to basement off Linn St.); Facilitators: Dan Teets and Rob Cline; Discussion will highlight The many faces of love -- love and adoration, love of music, love of painting, love as remembrance, romantic love and unconditional love -- as well as addressing the religious issues in "Bel Canto."

Oct. 7, 11 a.m. -- Melrose Meadows, 350 Dublin Drive, Activity Room, Main Floor; Facilitator: Dorothy M. Paul; Contact: Cindy Fenner 341-7893

Oct. 14, 3:30 p.m. --West High School Library, Room 116, 2901 Melrose Ave.; Facilitator: Beth Belding

Oct. 20, 7 p.m. -- North Liberty Community Library, 520 W. Cherry St.,
Community Center Meeting Room A; Facilitator: Jennie Garner

Oct. 22 3:30 p.m. -- Oaknoll Retirement Residence, 701 Oaknoll Dr., 6th Floor Lounge; Facilitator: Sam Becker

Oct. 29, 2 to 4 p.m. -- Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn St., Room G08; Facilitator: Joyce Carman

Nov. 3, 7 p.m. -- Coralville Public Library, 1401 5th St., E. Jean Schwab Auditorum; Facilitator: Joyce Carman

For additional information on these forums or to obtain free Reading Group Guides and "Johnson County Reads Bel Canto" buttons, contact Dorothy M. Paul, UICHR associate director for community affairs at 338-1230 or Bel Canto Book Discussion Kits are available for two-month checkout from the Iowa City Public Library by contacting Kara Logsden, 356-5200, or

For details about the overall project, consult the UICHR web site where pertinent discussion notes and questions are posted. To participate in an on-line interactive discussion of the book, visit The Gazette web site

"One Community, One Book-Johnson County Reads" began in 2001, sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights, The UI International Writing Program and Prairie Lights Books. Each are sponsoring the project again this year together with Iowa Book LLC, the Coralville Public Library, the Iowa City Public Library, Hancher Auditorium, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, the UI Charter Committee on Human Rights, the University Book Store, and The Gazette. Iowa City High School and West High School Library are also formal participants in the project.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Dorothy Paul, 319-338-1230,