Stephanie Gibson is program manager for Nevada Humanities, one of the groups behind Nevada Reads, a program in which Nevadans are encouraged to all pick up the same two books in 2018, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, by journalist Sam Quinones, and Julie Buntin’s Marlena: A Novel. Discussions, author appearances and similar events will be scheduled throughout the state from spring through fall.
What was the impetus for Nevada Reads?
Nevada Humanities. We’re a state humanities council, and we have been in partnership with the state library this year. They run a program called Nevada Center for Book … through the Library of Congress. … We’ve adopted this program, and, in years past, we have sometimes featured Nevada authors, and this year we thought we’d do something a little bit different. We thought we’d focus the books that we chose on a particular theme. We were approached by some medical association advocacy groups from Las Vegas. They had been working closely with Sam Quinones, and they were really impressed with the way he was able to tell an accurate and compelling history of the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging the United States.
So, it was the advocacy groups that suggested the opioid theme?
They kind of just put the bug in our ear. They had a small advisory committee, and a selection committee of librarians, authors, poets, other stakeholders, people from the medical community. … We got them all together and brainstormed some book ideas, and we thought it would be great to feature a novel and a non-fiction book. … Nevada is among the top 15 states for opioid overdose deaths.
Who will be involved in the events and discussions?
It’s not just libraries and bookstores, right? That’s right. … Julie Buntin and Sam Quinones will come to Nevada, whether it’s Las Vegas or Reno or a little bit of both. That hasn’t been ironed out just yet. We’ve been talking to people at Renown, hospitals around the state, community groups that work with addiction and mental health, first responders, advocacy organizations, and we’re trying to put together interesting panels and interesting conversations. … One of the things I’m going to try to do is really find stakeholders who have those tried-and-true book clubs, encourage them to choose these books as points of discussion. … Sam has graciously offered to, in places that he can’t travel to super-easily, if we get community members coming together in libraries, he’ll be able to host Skype interviews. So, we’ll be able to reach every corner of the state, and people will be able to have an unmoderated conversation with him.… Julie Buntin, she writes from experience. Her novel Marlena is about a friend, a girl growing up in northern Michigan, and her experience with a neighborhood friend who has an addiction. … I was really touched in speaking with Julie. This is her first published book. And she was actually just so chuffed when she heard that her book had been chosen in parallel to Sam Quiones book, because his work actually served as a reference point to her novel. Ideally, we’ll have the two of them at the same time. It might be an embarrassment of riches.
What’s the best way for people to keep up to date on these events as they get announced?
Definitely through nevadahumanities.org, our web site, and all of our social media platforms. We’re on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram.