2017-2018 WEBER READS: FIRE

Weber Reads is a coalition of people from the Weber County Library, the Wasatch Range Writing Project, Weber and Ogden School Districts, and Weber State University. Following the initiative of One Community One Book from the Library of Congress, we in Weber Reads pick a topic, an author, or a book every year and encourage people to learn, read, and discuss the ideas we encounter. In our ten years, we have looked at Frankenstein, The Odyssey, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, and the Japanese-American internment, among others.

This year, we have chosen Fire as our theme. Every summer, we are reminded of how close to our lives fire can come, of how fragile our world seems when the night sky reddens and the wind thickens with soot. In those moments fire threatens. Yet we also know that fire is a creator as well as a destroyer, that seeds blossom in its heat, that animals find new forage and that the soil is renewed. We know that for millennia, people have gathered around fire to warm themselves, to eat, to talk, to tell stories. In the 20th and 21st centuries, we have begun to realize that our connection with fire is a complex one, that what can threaten can also benefit, that what can destroy can also create.

We invite you to join us in our investigation and celebration of fire through the rich variety of materials suggested for you on our reading list, which includes books and other resources about historic fires such as the great Chicago and Peshtigo fires and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, the ecology of fire, and the stories of men and women who protect lives and property from fire. Please also join us for programs this fall and winter on firefighting, the sun, desert animals and ecology, as well as film screenings and book discussions.

Here in Utah, we live in proximity to the natural world. Many of us live close to the interface of the wild and the urban. We hope that through this, the eleventh year of Weber Reads, we can begin to discuss the complex questions and changing perceptions of fire in the 21st century.