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MountainsThe Learning Resources Department is pleased to announce Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder as St. Petersburg College’s One Book, One College title for 2014. SPC faculty, staff and students nominated a record high of 41 titles for the common reading program.

Kudos to Joy Moore, Academic Chair for Mathematics at the Clearwater Campus, for her nomination of Mountains Beyond Mountains.

In the non-fiction book, Tracy Kidder relates a compelling story of the life and work of Paul Farmer, a doctor and anthropologist devoted to a new vision of health care in third world nations. As a student at Duke, Farmer discerns his life’s mission and continues to pursue it with passion today. (A local note: Farmer grew up in Brooksville.)

The goal of One Book, One College is to have as many people as possible read the book, partner with campus librarians on programming and engage in discussion with students and colleagues.

You can share resources and ideas on the One Book, One College – 2014 Guide. Mountains Beyond Mountains is available through the SPC library website. It also is widely available at bookstores and online.

To start the conversation, here are some questions for reflection:

  • Mountains Beyond Mountains opens with an encounter between Paul Farmer and a United States Special Forces Captain in which both Farmer and the captain express frustration with limits on the military intervention in the area in Haiti. How would you describe the effectiveness of the United States’ foreign policy and intervention in Haiti?
  • In Mountains Beyond Mountains, Paul Farmer uses the phrase “preferential option for the poor” (p. 81). How does this relate to liberation theology? The cultural beliefs in Haiti?
  • In Mountains Beyond Mountains, Jim Kim and Paul Farmer refer to People magazine as the Journal of Popular Studies (JPS). While most people read People magazine as a source of entertainment, Farmer considers the publication as an anthropological artifact.
  1. What is the significance of cultural media?
  2. What do cultural magazines such as People tell us about society?
  3. How might an anthropologist or historian five hundred years from now interpret People magazine?
  • In Chapter 19 of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Jim spearheads an effort to lower the cost of capreomycin, the drug most commonly used to treat MDR-TB. How do economic and political factors affect the production, cost, and distribution of prescription drugs?
  • Why do you think the author, Tracy Kidder, decided to make himself a character in Mountains Beyond Mountains?
  • Take stock of your assets (personal and financial). Farmer took time in college to identify and determine how to he would use his assets. What steps might you take to determine how to use your assets? What resources does SPC have to help you do that?
  • The events in Mountains Beyond Mountains take place primarily in the 1990s, before the rise of social media. If Farmer and his colleagues started Partners in Health today, what impact might social media have of the establishment and growth of the organization? On the direction of Partners in Health’s work? Consider positive and negative implications.
  • Partners in Health works with many people and organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to achieve its goals. Consider the work of Bill Gates as the Founder and CEO of Microsoft, and as the Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From your perspective, in which role has he had the greatest impact on society? Why?
  • In Chapter 9 of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Farmer states that rich people should feel guilt toward the poor “because it could cause them to part with some of their money. And they ought to feel guilty besides” (p. 93). Do you agree that the rich should feel guilt toward the poor? Why or why not?

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IMG_9264a IMG_9285Garth Stein, author of the St. Petersburg College One Book, One College selection The Art of Racing in the Rain, dazzled 145 students, staff and members of the public at the Clearwater Campus on Wednesday, March 13.

Stein shared his insight and experiences as a professional writer and participated in a question and answer session and book signing with the audience. He also read and discussed selections from his third novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. The book, which has been published in 30 languages, has been on the IndieBound bestseller list since its publication in 2008 and was named a New York Times best-selling novel.

Some of his other novels include How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets and Raven Stole the Moon. Stein also has written a full-length play, Brother Jones, and a number of award-winning documentaries.

On Tuesday, March 12, Stein also spoke before an audience of 147 students, staff and faculty at the SPC Music Center at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. Both events were a collaborative effort by Learning Resources at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Student Government Association, which also funded the events.

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page.

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Students, staff and members of the public packed into the SPC Music Center on Tuesday, March 12, for a live poetry reading by 2001-03 U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

A crowd of 254 people filled the music center at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus to listen to Collins. Some said they traveled from out of county and even out of state to hear the award-winning poet. After reading his poems, Collins answered many questions about his work and inspiration.

Collins is the author of eight collections of poetry including Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic.

“He’s got the ‘common man’ pretty well all together, and he represents all of us,” said Al Svoboda, who drove from Sumter County with his wife, Jill, to see Collins. They learned about his poetry reading in the Tampa Bay Times. “As soon as we heard that he would be coming, we came running.”

Collins’ presentation was a collaborative effort by the SPC Communications Department and the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Student Government Association, which funded the event. He also spoke later that day at the Palladium Theater.

The St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus SGA also funded presentations by Garth Stein, author of SPC’s One Book, One College selection The Art of Racing in the Rain. Stein spoke at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Music Center Tuesday evening. Several who attended Collins’ noon presentation also said they also were interested in seeing Stein.

Bed and breakfast owner Grace Diaz-Tubbs, who sat with her sister, Rita Diaz-Kenney, was one of them.

“I read about Garth Stein’s book and was fascinated by the storytelling,” said Diaz-Tubbs, who flew in from Williamsburg, Va., to hear Collins and Stein. “We came in for these events specifically.”

See more photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page.

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Billy Collins, who has authored eight poetry collections, will read at the SPC Music Center as well as the Palladium Theater on March 12. A distinguished professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.

Collins is one of three award-winning poets, Denise Duhamel, Peter Meinke and Billy Collins, to visit SPC campuses this semester.

Collins’ reading starts at 12:30 p.m. at the SPC Music Center and at 7 p.m. at the theater. This event is free for SPC students with a valid ID and $10 for the general public.

Read more about Collins in The Sandbox, the online student newspaper at SPC.

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New York Times best-selling author Garth Stein will be at two St. Petersburg College campuses in March for a reading, Q&A and book-signing event.

Stein is the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, SPC’s One Book, One College selection this year.

Coming Soon:

Conversations with an author – March 12 and 13

Appearing in person:

New York Times best-selling author Garth Stein for reading, Q&A, book signing

  • Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 p.m., St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, Music Center
  • Wednesday, March 13, 9:30 a.m., Clearwater Campus, Library

Both appearances, one March 12 at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus and the other March 13 at the Clearwater Campus, are open to the public.

Following a survey, the college picked Stein’s book as the featured title of its common reading program. The program’s goal is to get everyone at SPC reading and discussing the same selection. Past books on the reading list have included Water for Elephants, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Last Lecture.

The book is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo, who belongs to a man who lost his wife to cancer and is involved in a child-custody battle with his in-laws. Enzo yearns to be human and learns what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person.

Stein also is the co-founder of Seattle7Writers. The nonprofit organization is “a collective of Pacific Northwest authors creating connections between writers, readers, librarians and booksellers to foster and support a passion for the written word.”

Learn more about the book and Stein or check other events, reviews, study and discussion ideas and classroom resources involving the book.

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