This is the announcement text for INL Reads! as presented at the INL of NA Convention in Edmonton:
When the initial concept for the INL Reads! program was presented at the December 2010 INL of NA Executive meeting, it was received with great enthusiasm. After all, we know the lore about Icelanders and their high literacy rates, love of books and their attraction to a good story. The goal behind the INL Reads! proposal was to provide a program that any club could participate in at the club level, but also share in the conversation beyond the local club to other clubs and individuals who have no clubs in their locations. This continent wide conversation would occur on the INL Reads! blog which is part of the INL of NA website. Excited with the idea and the opportunity for everyone and anyone across the INL of NA continent to participate, the INL of NA Executives voiced their approval and the program was launched.
Seeking help to envision this first round of the INL Reads! program, an organizing committee was formed. Lending their expertise to the committee were the acclaimed author Christina Sunley (The Tricking of Freya), veteran Icelandic book club leader, Linda Collette Sigurdson and Icelandic bookseller extraordinaire, Linda Tergeson. The group planned program specifics as well as selecting the book candidate that became the coveted first title in the program.
How can your club participate? First, by committing to take part in the way that makes most sense for your club. After the first title is announced at the convention, begin steps to read the work in your club. I understand that some club meetings are so jam packed that discussing the book during regular meetings would be impossible. Such clubs would most likely chose to set aside another time to discuss the book. Other clubs may find they have adequate time during regular meetings to discuss the work.
For this first round of INL Reads! your club will have the entire year to fit discussions about the work into your club’s schedule. As the program evolves, clubs will decide jointly whether to have more than one work per year. Perhaps we will find a single “official” title each year is best, allowing clubs wishing to add to that number the flexibility to make their own selections beyond the annual title.
The 2011 INL of NA convention in Edmonton was chosen as the event where our first selection would be announced and also where copies of the selection would be available. In selecting an author and novel, the committee felt the strong pull of one author and one particular book. Input from other folks very interested in what would become the first work to be read and discussed, led to the same result. In fact, if you look through the INL Reads blog, you can find clues to the nearly universal choice of anyone who responded.
The committee’s own unanimous choice for the first novel in the INL Reads program, was published in Iceland as two volumes in 1934 and 1935. It was translated into English in 1946. Nine years later, its author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland.” This work brings the reader into the world of Bjartur of Summerhouses, and his struggle for independence. He lives in a land that has barely changed in a millennia, as he fiercely maintains his independence from the world beyond his home field.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that the first book in our INL Reads program is “Independent People,” by Halldor Kiljan Laxness. It is fitting that we begin this series with the landmark Icelandic novel of the twentieth century.
Now the committee turns the INL Reads program over to you, the club members and individual members of the INL of NA. After this convention, return home to share the INL Reads! selection with your local club and join the conversation on-line with others at the INL Reads blog. And as we share the riches of “Independent People” with one another, of course start thinking of what work to nominate for next year’s book… pick your favorite Icelandic North American book or a book which takes your fancy written across the ocean in Iceland.
How will this story turn out? As our literary voyage begins to pull out of the harbor and set sail, that next leg of the voyage will be up to the clubs and the individuals who pick up “Independent People” and lose themselves into its world. And as the conversation grows, it will undoubtedly be lively and engaging, whether it occurs within your club or on the INL Reads! blog.