Silicon Valley Reads 2021 Takes Unusual Approach to Annual Community Engagement Program

Medley of books announced focused on the theme “Connecting”

In recognition of the difficult year everyone is experiencing in 2020, Silicon Valley Reads will offer the community a variety of recommended books and virtual programs in 2021 centered on the theme “Connecting” – the universal human ability to build resilience by looking for people, places and things that provide comfort and joy during tough times.

“We’ve seen so many examples of this during the past months. Singing from balconies. Baking bread. Adopting a pet. Enjoying the outdoors. Re-reading favorite books. Contacting old friends. We have identified a set of recommended books that describe ways people can feel connected and experience moments of happiness in the most challenging circumstances,” said Jennifer Weeks, Santa Clara County Librarian, who serves as Silicon Valley Reads co-chair along with Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools and Jill Bourne, City of San José Library Director.

The medley of books for Silicon Valley Reads 2021 includes two memoirs, two novels and two nonfiction books. Each approaches the concept of “connecting” from a different vantage point such as nature, music, food, animals, books and human contact for mental and physical health.  The featured books are:

  • Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, who describes loneliness as a national epidemic.
  • Always Home by Fanny Singer, an uplifting memoir of her unique childhood and special relationship with her mother, famed Chez Panisse restauranteur Alice Waters.
  • Mutual Rescue by Carol Novello, heart-warming information and stories about the beneficial connections between people and the animals they bring into their family.
  • The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham, a lyrical memoir about how his childhood connection with nature in the rural south established his path to become an ornithologist and ecology professor.
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, a historical novel about the Pack Horse Library Project in Kentucky in the 1930s and how books helped create strong community connections.
  • The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, a charming novel about a record store owner in the 1980s
    with an uncanny skill at matching people with the music they need to hear.

In February and March of 2021, Silicon Valley Reads will offer online public programs for all ages including author talks, panel discussions, educational events, demonstrations, performances, activities for students, storytimes and a virtual art exhibit. Limited in-person events may also be scheduled if public health guidelines allow. The complete schedule of events will be published on the website by Jan. 1, 2021.

Silicon Valley Reads is also announcing the selection of four companion books for children and teens: Parker Looks Up, a picture book by Parker and Jessica Curry (illustrated by Brittany Jackson); Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell (illustrated by Rafael Lopez) for grades K-3; Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes for grades 4-8; and The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon for teens 14 and up.  

“Silicon Valley Reads has always been focused on connections – connecting readers with books, connecting people of different backgrounds and perspectives, connecting the community to learn, think and explore new ideas together,” said Dr. Dewan. “It is more important than ever for Silicon Valley Reads to provide opportunities to overcome the loneliness and feelings of isolation that are affecting so many during this extraordinary time. After many months of disrupted normal life, people are searching for ways to enhance their sense of well-being. We believe this medley of books will give everyone an appealing option for reading and thinking about new ways to find connections.”

The Silicon Valley Reads community engagement program is presented annually by Santa Clara County Library District, Santa Clara County Office of Education and San José Public Library in conjunction with other public libraries, community colleges and universities and community organizations.  More information about Silicon Valley Reads and the plans for 2021 can be found on the website  

Media Contact:

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