BYU professor to read at Orem Library

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In a place where there is no talking, no eating and no socializing, a library can at times be a dismal place. However, at the Orem Library right now, stories are brought to life, bringing the community together to explore themes of literature that are enriching and enticing.

The Orem Library, at 58 N. State St., hosts the Orem Reads program, which focuses on a yearly theme and brings in authors to discuss and read from their personal books, as well as engage with the audience about literary themes and topics. This year’s theme is “The Gilead,” a novel by Marilynne Robinson who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

BYU Humanities professor George Handley, author of “Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River,” will present his book as well as discuss themes from “The Gilead” tonight at 7 p.m. Handley categorized his novel as an environmental autobiography. His nature writing is a memoir of Handley’s experience hiking and walking on the Provo River water shed, his family history, Native American history and the history of the early pioneers in Utah Valley.

“I structured my book around my four children,” Handley said. “My son frames the beginning and end of the book because he asked where water come from. He wanted to hear pioneer stories from the Valley. I thought of it as turning the hearts of the father to the children.”

Handley is also concerned with the environment, and hopes to raise awareness of the history and importance of the Provo River.

“Mormon doctrine has exceptionally strong principles of stewardship and I think we’ve not paid enough attention to those,” Handley said. “I teach classes on the environment and humanities — the environment is all around us, it’s important to keep it safe.”

Parker Smith, 23, a senior from Layton studying journalism, has gone to several of the Orem Reads presentations at the Orem Library, including Brian Doyle and Susan Howe’s presentations. Smith said he believes Handley is a genius, and is looking forward to hearing him speak.

“It’s amazing that we have all these amazing authors coming to our community,” Smith said. “It’s a good theme because Robinson and ‘Gilead’ is one of the few spiritual, religious authors, so it’s cool that we get to hear about her themes from her book, and hear from others as well.”

Eliot Wilcox, spokesman for the Orem Library, said he thinks Orem Reads can benefit the entire community and is pleased to have Handley and the other Orem Reads presenters come engage the Orem community.

“When it comes to Orem Reads, the community gets excited about the chance and opportunity to explore some really fun ideas, and learn about some fascinating people,” Wilcox said. “Handley is a very kind man and very smart,” Wilcox said. “He’s articulate and he talks about important issues that matter to people on a very personal level. We’re excited about him being able to talk to community members and encourage them to look at how they live their lives and help others.”

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