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Summer reading
Library system chooses Ferrol Sams novel for Gwinnett Reads program

"We don't want any paved roads in this county. We might could get out easier, but you couldn't never tell what might come in on one."

It's with this quote that the Gwinnett County Public Library is launching this year's Gwinnett Reads program. No, it's not a quote from a Gwinnett resident, although it could be. Pulled from the lines of Dr. Ferrol Sams' novel "Down Town," this is a quote instead uttered by a fictional character in Fayette County.

"This is a sentiment we feel is shared by many people in our own area, too," said Eddie Suttles, Gwinnett County Public Library spokesman. "It could be a quote about Gwinnett, but Dr. Sams is from Fayette County, and that's where the book is set."

Sams' novel, a semi-autobiographical tale about a small, Southern town steadily becoming incorporated into a large metropolitan area, has been chosen as the Gwinnett Reads book for 2007. The county-wide reading program is an effort to promote books and reading, as well as garner community involvement.

Gwinnett is not alone in implementing such a program. Cities across the nation hold community reading events each year. Georgia also has a state-wide reading initiative, the Vacation Reading Program, which encourages children and families to read for fun during school breaks.

"It's an interesting thing to take part in. I may be a bit biased toward books, but this is a way to bring the community together," Suttles said. "This is quite a common event. A lot of towns, counties and even states have a reading program similar to this. Obviously, it helps to promote the library, and it also promotes books and reading."

Throughout the Gwinnett Reads event, which starts today and runs through Aug. 7, a series of community programs will be held. This year's lineup includes a panel discussion with local Gwinnett County experts and a family history writing workshop.

"There are plenty of opportunities to get involved," Suttles said. "We're trying to really bring the community together over this one book."

Selecting a book for the annual program is no easy task. Since the program was created in 2003, authors such as Harper Lee, Rick Bragg and Sonny Brewer have been featured.

While the book selection committee doesn't follow any precise guidelines for picking a novel, the goal is to select a book that will appeal to a majority of Gwinnett readers, Suttles said.

"There isn't just one type of author or book that is selected. It's whatever will appeal to our readers, and Dr. Sams is a Georgia literary hero and is bit of a celebrity," Suttles said. "This is the first novel he has written in quite a while. It's fairly new, and given who he is, it was a perfect pick."

In 2006, Sams' "Run with the Horseman," the novel that helped establish his writing career, was selected as the Atlanta Reads community book. His newest work is no less extraordinary, said Barbara Keene, marketing director for Mercer Press, which published the book.

"It's exactly what people would want and expect from Dr. Sams," she said. "It's a story about small-town Southern life, and it's charming. People have been reading works by Ferrol for years and years. He's just so well-loved, and the man himself is quite a character."

SideBar: If you go

Gwinnett Reads programs

' What: "Gwinnett ... This Is Your Life"

' When: 7 p.m. today

' Where: Gwinnett History Museum, 455 S. Perry St., Lawrenceville

' Cost: Free

' Info: Local experts Wayne Shackleford and Nona Patterson discuss Gwinnett County through the years. Call 770-978-5154 or visit www.gwinnettpl.org.

' What: "Tell Your Story: How to Write Your Family History" workshop

' When: 7 p.m. Aug. 7

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Five Forks branch 2780 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lawrenceville

' Cost: Free

' Info: Call 770-978-5154 or visit www.gwinnettpl.org.

' What: Meet the Author event

' When: 8 p.m. Aug. 11

' Where: Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

' Cost: Free

' Info: Spend an evening discussing "Down Town" with author Dr. Ferrol Sams. Light refreshments will be served from 7 to 8 p.m. Call 770-978-5154 or visit www.gwinnettpl.org.

"Remember When ..." events

Learn the history of various counties and regions through the eyes of community leaders and long-time residents at this series of free events. Call 770-978-5154 or visit www.gwinnettpl.org.

' What: "Remember When ..." Centerville and Snellville

' When: 7 p.m. Monday

' Where: Centerville Community Center, room F, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville

' What: "Remember When ..." Dacula

' When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Dacula branch, 265 Dacula Road, Dacula

' What: "Remember When ..." Five Forks and Lawrenceville

' When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Five Forks branch, 2780 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lawrenceville

' What: "Remember When ..." Lilburn and Mountain Park

' When: 7 p.m. Thursday

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Mountain Park branch, 1210 Pounds Road, Lilburn

' What: "Remember When ..." Buford, Duluth and Suwanee

' When: 7 p.m. Thursday

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Suwanee branch, 361 Main St., Suwanee

' What: "Remember When ..." Grayson

' When: 7 p.m. Aug. 6

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Grayson branch, 700 Grayson Parkway, Grayson

' What: "Remember When ..." Peachtree Corners and Norcross

' When: 7 p.m. Aug. 6

' Where: Gwinnett County Public Library Peachtree Corners branch, 5570 Spalding Drive, Norcross