Silicon Valley Reads
Silicon Valley Reads is an annual community program that engages the public in reading, thinking, and discussing a contemporary topic. This program is made possible by a partnership between the Santa Clara County Library District, the San Jose Public Library and the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
This collaborative effort has served the community for 15 years since its inception in 2003.
Sitting down with Dr. Mary Ann Dewan and Nancy Howe
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Interim Superintendent for the Santa Clara County Office of Education and one of this year’s Silicon Valley co-chairs, sat down with SCC Newsbeat to discuss SV Reads.
“Silicon Valley Reads is a collective impact initiative,” says Dewan. “It’s really designed to get the community thinking, talking, and getting engaged with each other around issues of concern for our county.”
Nancy Howe, who is the Executive Director of Santa Clara County Library District and also one of this year’s SV Reads co-chairs, discussed what it takes for a book or books to be chosen as an SV Reads book of the year and how these books influence the choice of the contemporary theme.
“There are certain criteria that we use for the selection of the books,” Howe says, “because it’s not just a great book. It has to be a combination of things that make people want to read, want to think and challenge us.”
“Many of us have been thrust into caregiver roles,” she adds, “and we came across these two books we really liked, Goodbye Vitamin and My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward. And what they had in common was that [in] each case, you saw caregiving as a commitment to family.”
2018’s Contemporary Theme — “No Matter What: Caring, Coping, and Compassion”
As one of the many SV Reads community events, De Anza Community College’s Euphrat Museum held a two-month long art show, entitled “Showing Up With Care.” The show was centered on this year’s SV Reads theme, “No Matter What: Caring, Coping, and Compassion,” and featured art that reflected this in numerous paintings, sculptures and much more.
Bringing Caregiving into the spotlight
“Caregiving is often in the shadows,” Howe explains. “Why don’t we try to bring it out and talk about it? How do we take care of the caregivers in the community, whose work is often underappreciated, or certainly undervalued, and very, very difficult?”
Dewan adds, “We have this conversation about the impact of illness on a family or a community and we often talk about the ill person, but we don’t always talk about the caregivers, the people who surround the ill person. [Those who] really help to shape what their life is going to be like.”
Local Authors: Rachel Khong and Mark Lukach
The two books chosen for reading and discussion this year are Goodbye Vitamin, by Rachel Khong, and My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, by Mark Lukach.
“We were very fortunate to find these two local authors,” Dewan says. “Both had written about and shared different aspects of caregiving and the impact of this on their lives.”
Engaging in reading and discussion
“In a world full of digital media and other opportunities to engage, it’s just really heartening to see that there’s so much interest and participation in an activity that is stimulation by a book and by conversation,” says Dewan.
“We have hundreds of people, thousands of people, each year who are engaged in the activities themselves. We have hundreds of volunteers that make Silicon Valley Reads possible.”