CMC Corner: Don’t judge — or pick — a book by its cover
Books are a lot like music and food — you tend to have a certain taste or gravitate toward a particular kind. Some prefer the gritty, intense novels that can be uncomfortable and challenging to read, whereas others read for an escape, choosing a lighter fantasy, romance or whodunit. I enjoy biographies, especially about women in different walks of life.
If you think about it, choosing your own books is, in some ways, censoring your own reading. I’ve heard some people comment that they don’t want to belong to a book club because they want to pick the title they’ll be reading.
But I like being pushed to read new things that I normally wouldn’t choose on my own. And it’s part of the reason I do belong to a book club. Reading opens you up to new experiences and different authors — as long as you don’t limit what you try.
The book that Colorado Mountain College chose as its annual Common Reader this year is a book I probably never would have read. “Badluck Way,” written by Bryce Andrews, is a personal memoir about the author’s stint as a young man working on a remote southwestern Montana ranch.
The 23-year-old Andrews, a city kid fresh out of college with no idea what to do with his life, responded to a help wanted ad looking for someone with “common sense, adaptability and gumption.” He figured he met those requirements, so he applied and got the job — a job that would require him to learn a tough new trade as a ranch hand.
The job proved not only to be physically tough but in unexpected ways was emotionally tough, too. As a caretaker of cattle, Andrews also had to be on guard for predators — chiefly, the wolves in the surrounding area. The ranchers he met were clear about the course he needed to take — “If you see a wolf, shoot it.” It was not such a black and white answer for Andrews, and his conundrum is the focus of his memoir.
While ranching is not something everyone can relate to (including myself), the dilemma of making a difficult decision is something we all have experienced. We can sympathize with the conflicted feelings of wanting to avoid a situation, going against what people expect, or second-guessing a decision we had to make.
I am looking forward to hearing our students’ reflections on this memoir. It’s another reason I enjoy programs like our Common Reader and the book club I belong to — the book doesn’t end with you reading it; so much more comes out of it when you hear someone else’s thoughts on it.
Mindy White is the library director at the Quigley Library, on CMC’s campus at Spring Valley, seven miles south of Glenwood Springs. The community is invited to read “Badluck Way” and hear the author speak at Spring Valley at 7 p.m. Oct. 26. More information at http://www.ColoradoMtn.edu/CommonReader.
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