A Paradise Built in Hell Chosen for Citywide Book Club

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282; mjeffers@sfpl.org

April 18, 2012

San Franciscans Will Be Reading A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster for this fall’s Citywide Book Club

Rebecca Solnit book chosen as part of California Reads, a statewide reading and discussion program created by Cal Humanities.

Book cover of A Paradise Built in HellIn commemoration of the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake today, San Francisco Public Library announced that it has selected San Francisco author Rebecca Solnit’s book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, for its fall citywide book club. The selection was announced at San Francisco’s annual earthquake commemoration ceremony at Lotta’s Fountain at 5 a.m.

This year, as part of the 8th annual One City One Book, San Francisco Public Library is participating in California Reads, a statewide reading and discussion program created by Cal Humanities (formerly the California Council for the Humanities) in partnership with the California Center for the Book and supported by the California State Library.

California Reads encourages Californians from all walks of life to participate in reading and discussion programs and related activities around the theme of democracy in 2012. San Francisco Public Library has selected A Paradise Built in Hell because of its strong connection to the city and its exploration of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

A Paradise Built in Hell explores our need for community and common purpose, which Solnit argues are fundamental to democratic forms of social and political life. Blending reportage and analysis, the book surveys natural and man-made disasters including the ’06 earthquake, the Halifax explosion of 1917, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the Sept. 11th attacks, and Hurricane Katrina.  Solnit takes a positive view of human behavior showing that disasters can actually create a sense of community and purposefulness. A community’s typical response to catastrophe is self-organization and mutual aid–truly democracy in action–with neighbors and strangers rescuing, feeding and housing each other.

This fall, San Francisco Public Library will be offering a number of discussion groups, films, preparedness workshops and more events on the theme of the book, including a talk with the author on Oct. 11, 2012.

San Francisco Public Library’s activities are one of hundreds taking place in 2012 across the state as part of Cal Humanities Searching for Democracy program.

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