As a frequent user of our local library, I enjoy taking part in many of the programs offered. So I was delighted to see a new one crop up. The Adult Reading Challenge encourages people to read in a genre or field they wouldn’t normally choose. The first month, September, was dedicated to Science Fiction or Fantasy. I never, ever read SF. It was a genuine challenge from my point of view, and I was eager to get started. But, what to read? Should I just pick something from the New Book shelf? Or try one of the traditional giants, like Heinlein or Herbert? Or what about our home-grown star, Octavia Butler, whose papers now reside at The Huntington Library? Then, at a bookstore, I noticed the classic Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and saw that it had won both a Nebula and a Hugo, both awards given for Science Fiction. It was also the basis for the movie Charly, I checked the library catalog and they had a copy.
Put aside the fact that I sobbed for an hour after I read the last lines. This book is now in my top ten list of best novels ever written. And I never would have picked it up without the Adult Reading Challenge. Sure, there are prizes and incentives. But the value for me was being semi-forced to read a book that I never would have gotten around to otherwise and that has enriched my life. So, thanks to whomever came up with this idea. It worked for me.