Tomorrow!

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield tomorrow! In The author of the 2016 One Book One Town selection, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, as well as The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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It is going to be a spectacular night as Fairfield comes together once again to celebrate reading! We can’t wait to see you at the Quick Center. We know that Mr. Ronson is looking forward to his visit to Fairfield tomorrow:

When asked about how Ronson felt about the events leading up to his talk, he said that “One Book One Town” is “the best thing to happen to this book.” He said he felt absolutely honored that his book has been chosen for this event. At his talk on March 8, he hopes to discuss the story of how he came to write the book and the criticism he faced after it was published. He said, “After the book came out, I was actually criticized for some of the points I was making.”

He felt those who organized the events leading up to the talk truly understood his message. Ronson felt that the organized events “perfectly captured the themes of judgment and public humiliation.”

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Our event will begin promptly at 7 PM, with Mr. Ronson’s presentation followed by a book signing. Copies of his books will be available for purchase from the Fairfield University Bookstore at the event.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow night for another unforgettable One Book One Town celebration!

In Two Days…

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield! In just two days, on Tuesday, March 8, the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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Now, a note from Kristina, Children’s Librarian and One Book One Town committee member:

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed echoes in my mind as I follow the presidential race in the form of one name: Donald Trump. He seemingly cannot be shamed. His popularity inexplicably grows as he leads the Republican Primary Race with little resistance. Why?

The internet has been trying to shame him for his constant gaffes—sexist, racist, xenophobic, inappropriate and misinformed gaffes that appear in the news on a daily basis. But this privileged, middle-aged white billionaire appears to be impervious to any criticism. As I have been watching his campaign unfold, and cringing from his lack of empathy towards any demographic beyond his own, I keep thinking back to Jon Ronson’s examination of who can be shamed and for what. Trump’s offensive comments get retweeted and shared via Twitter and other Social Media outlets, and outrage huge portions of the population, yet this collective outrage is not enough to shame him into behaving in a socially appropriate way. How does he rise unabashedly from the onslaught?

It would initially appear that Trump’s status as a rich white male would prevent his shaming, but as Mary and Donna pointed out, Cecil the Lion’s killer was by no means immune to our collective outrage—and he was also a rich white male. Ronson attempts to explore this in his book—though he does not leave us with any answers, merely raises more questions as to how some people can come out of scandals unscathed and some collapse under the negative onslaught of comments and backlash.

trump shamePerhaps he is cowed by the outrage but still remains unabashed? Perhaps it is personality traits that allow for the contrasts between shame and popularity? What would it take to shame this man? As he said before the Iowan Caucus in January, he believes that he “could stand in the Middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and not lose any supporters.” I am curious. What could actually shame him?

Register here for our One Book One Town Signature Event.

In Three Days…

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield! In just a few days, on Tuesday, March 8, the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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Now, a note from Craig, Trade Manager at the Fairfield University Bookstore and One Book One Town Committee Member:

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is filled with Puritan references, the terms ‘scarlet letter’ and ‘pillory’ show up in one of Jon Ronson’s examples with a quote from Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. I kept musing how Hester Prynne’s adulterous shame extended to the edges of her tiny Massachusetts village, and to neighboring villages, but no farther.

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Today’s village is global, a Global Village Marshall McLuhan envisioned when he coined the term in the ’60s with his pioneering books on media theory. Our 21st century village is quite a leap from Hawthorne’s tiny Puritan community, as Ronson takes delight in discovering with these cautionary tales.

Register here for our One Book One Town Signature Event.

In Four Days…

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield! In just a few days, on Tuesday, March 8, the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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Now, a note from Donna, Member of the Board of the Fairfield Public Library and One Book One Town committee member:

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not just for people on social media. No, this is a conversation that we all should take part in.  When did it become okay to cross the line?

I first read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson as the story of Cecil the Lion was in the news.  Walter Palmer hunted and killed a beloved lion. International attention and outrage exploded on social media. The online torrent of anger took on a mob mentality.  Twitter users said he should “be shot and skinned” and he should “lose his home, his practice & his money.” His home was vandalized and ‘Lion Killer’ was painted across his garage door. His life was threatened.  His wife was threatened.  They hired private security, shut down his business, and went into hiding as a result of threats to their safety.  He was judged by social media and public opinion before all the facts were known. Palmer had legal authority to partake in the hunt. Palmer was not charged with a crime yet he paid a terrible price.

Then, another story captures our attention.  Do we ever think about what happens to the person who has been publicly shamed?

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Steve Harvey made a mistake. Within a minute or two, he was back on the stage at the Miss Universe competition and acknowledged he had made a mistake.  He apologized for the mistake.  In the days that followed, Harvey was the recipient of public shaming.  Harvey stated “Here’s the part that people don’t understand. My family got death threats. They threatened my wife, they threatened my children.”   When did this become an acceptable response to someone making a mistake?

I believe that there is better way to respond.  I’m looking forward to hearing Jon Ronson speak next Tuesday, March 8th, about his thought provoking book. I believe this is a conversation that needs to continue.

Register here for our One Book One Town Signature Event.

In Five Days

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield! In just a few days, on Tuesday, March 8, the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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Now, a note from Marissa, Teen Library Associate:

How merciless do we want to be?

This is the question Jon Ronson asks in a short video prepared for The Guardian on Twitter’s ability to ruin people’s lives via public shaming. We as a society are currently navigating the new waters of Internet etiquette and public shaming is playing a major role in that journey. Though let’s be clear: public shaming has existed since before computers, before television, before industrialization: we’re talking the literal stone ages. Whether in person, print, or electronically, public shaming in some form has existed since the dawn of time. And in a way, public shaming makes sense. What better way to teach both an individual and society a lesson than to make a mockery of the accused? You kill two birds with one stone and if the shaming is harsh enough, odds are no one else will attempt to do what the shamed did.

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HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver has harnessed the power of public shaming to fight back against corporations, tax loopholes, and bail issues with a fair amount of success. But even so…it’s an inherently confusing issue. Who should have the power to decide who gets shamed? How do we decide? And most importantly, how merciless do we want to be? The Internet has allowed us great freedom in expanding democracy to issues of social justice in ways that were previously inaccessible to us (read: you had to be a judge or other high member of society to decide who to punish), but like a young child home alone for the first time, we’re drunk with power and don’t know when to stop ourselves. I don’t know what we should do, but for the first time we have a cohesive text to show the effects of public shaming, and perhaps letting those stories inform our decisions going forward may help in defining boundaries.

Register here for our One Book One Town Signature Event.

In Seven Days…

We still can’t believe that Jon Ronson is coming to Fairfield! In just one week, on Tuesday, March 8, the author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them and more will be at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University.

We do hope you can join us at 7 PM. There are still some places left in the audience, and we guarantee that you will not want to miss this outstanding speaker.

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Now, a note from Nicole, Teen Librarian and One Book One Town Co-Chair:

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Hey Fairfield! I hope you are as excited as I am that Jon Ronson is coming to town! It is always an honor to serve on the OBOT committee each year. We take our work very seriously, we always do our best to bring something to the town that will spark a community conversation, and I believe there are very few topics as timely as the way we live our digital lives, and how much of a reflection that is of who we are in our ‘analog,’ day-to-day existence as humans on this planet.

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Like many librarians, I am also a (slightly accidental) technologist. To do my job well, I have to learn and use and teach all kinds of internet stuff. I’ve seen that, for better or worse, each new gadget or app we opt to incorporate into our lives has a massive effect on how we operate and in many cases, how we interact with each other. Our ongoing digital ‘revolution’ is miraculous and terrifying, but we are witnessing just another radical shift in a long line of them. As a student of tech history (yes, there is a such a thing, and it is utterly fascinating!) I think this love/hate relationship with our tools of communication can be seen in the evolution of many human innovations stretching back to things we don’t even consider as  ‘technology’ anymore, from cave paintings to the creation of language and writing, to the rise (and sometimes fall) of the telegraph, the telephone, radio and television. The issues presented in this year’s book  aren’t new to these times, but instead long-standing, universal, and relevant to our entire history as a species.

I think we all have something to gain by reading this timely book, even if we think we’ve rejected the latest versions of what we today call social media. (By the way: Not one of us really can ignore this stuff, even if we aren’t tweeting or sending snaps. The effect these tools have had on our culture has been too seismic for even the most ardent Luddite to ignore…)

But enough about that.

I’m really excited about this year’s OBOT for many, many reasons, but this one might surprise you. Those of you who have ever run into me at the library know that I’m a big movie and TV nerd. And Mr. Ronson was the co-screenwriter of one of my favorite movies of 2014, which was loosely based on his own experiences with the Frank Sidebottom Band. Here is the trailer from this fantastic and surreal film, Frank, which, of course, you can borrow from the library:

And there is your fill of absurdity for the day. On that note, I hope to see you all next week at the Quick Center!

Register here for our One Book One Town Signature Event.

 

So You Think This Book is not for you?

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One Book One Town selection committee meetings are always interesting: We look at dozens of titles annually, each of which have their champions. Over the course of weeks and months a consensus begins to form around two or three titles and from there a decision is made. Most of us approach the idea of what makes a good ‘OBOT’ book differently – we each have our own preferred genres, our own diverse sensibilities about what makes for good reading, our own opinions on what would inspire conversation and our own ideas on which conversations we think our community should engage in and would benefit most from.

Once in a while, though, a book will emerge as a clear favorite right in the beginning. This was such a year. However, like every title that is eventually selected, there were some members of the committee who felt that the book just didn’t speak to them. Their initial indifference was invaluable to those of us who couldn’t put this book down. The doubts expressed are the same as some of those we’ve heard from a few people as we unveiled our choice two weeks ago:

“I don’t use Twitter.”

“I’m not really an Internet person.”

“That’s not my world…”

“That’s what happens when you go online…”

For those of us who have been, to put it mildly, obsessed with this book since those early meetings in June, these comments from our colleagues brought a necessary perspective to our decision process, and helped us clarify our thinking about the value of this story: To us, it’s not about technology. It’s about people. It’s about the way we behave when we think we are part of a crowd. It’s about the things we feel emboldened to say when we assume we are part of a majority, or that everyone around us shares our opinions, our way of thinking, and sometimes, our prejudices.

It’s about how quick we are to judge each other, how easily we indulge in outrage and how quickly we become offended, no matter how near or distant our actual proximity to the offensive person or thing.

Whether it occurs face to face over coffee, gossiping about rumors on the phone, chatting with neighbors at a school meeting, sharing opinions on Facebook or via the seeming anonymity of the comments section on a news site, the instincts remain the same, as do the potential pitfalls. The things we say can sometimes spiral out of our control. This is not something new, born of our increasingly digital culture, although it is certainly magnified by the speed and amplification of social networks. No: This is as old as communication itself.

When I first read this book, I was reminded of a brief scene in a movie based on a play  from a few years ago, set in the 1950s, long before the Internet became a daily presence in our lives:

It’s not perfectly analogous, as shaming and gossip aren’t necessarily the same thing. But they are certainly connected, related in a way that should make us a bit uncomfortable.

Even if you think that this book has no bearing on your life, we encourage you to give it a try: we think it will surprise you. Of course, in the end it might not be ‘for you.’ Despite the ambitious name of this reading adventure, there really is no such thing as ‘One Book’ that literally everybody in this ‘One Town’ will love to read. We take our selection efforts very seriously and remain conscientious when choosing titles from season to season that we are building a roster of books that, taken together, we hope will be useful and inspiring for years to come. Nothing brightens our day more than hearing people talk about our past selections and the impact the act of reading them together has made, and will continue to make, on our community.

-Nicole, Teen Librarian & One Book One Town co-chair

About our Author…

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…at his best, Ronson is one of the finest comic writers working today.” —The Guardian

“[Ronson] is one of our most important modern day thinkers…[So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed] is one of the most therapeutic books imaginable.” – US News & World Report

Jon Ronson is a gonzo journalist in the spirit of the great Hunter S. Thompson, but with the comic styling of the legendary Monty Python. An award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, his unique brand of intellect and comic wit has been described by comedian Jon Stewart as “satirical investigation.” He is a regular contributor to the BBC and NPR and he is the author of seven books including the bestselling The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Fascinated by madness, strange behavior and the human mind, Jon Ronson has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people. In The Men Who Stare at Goats, he goes behind the scenes of the U.S. Army’s secret paranormal warfare program to expose a strange and comic set of characters. The book was originally a BBC documentary series and later a major motion picture starring George Clooney. In its review The New York Times called the book “a twisted treasure hunt…outstandingly artful and chilling.”

Jon is also the author of the bestselling book The Psychopath Test, which The San Francisco Chronicle called “…no ordinary piece of investigative journalism.” In the book he explores the concept of psychopathy and how we define sanity, insanity and eccentricity in our society and in ourselves. The book was adapted into a story for NPR’s This American Life and has become one of the show’s most popular episodes of all time. Published in 2012, Jon’s book Lost at Sea is a collection of his essays that originally appeared in The Guardian (UK). Among the stories chronicled in those essays are Jon’s adventures with America’s real-life superheroes and an interview with a man who has tried to split the atom at his kitchen table.

For his latest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.

When not spending time with extremists and psychopaths, Jon likes to spend time with his wife and son. He lives with them in New York City and London.

In less than one week…!

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In just six days we will make the official announcement revealing the 2016 One Book One Town selection! Please join us at the press conference next Tuesday, 1/12 at 9:30 am, where the book will be unveiled in the lobby of the Main Library. Now, here is your second-to-last clue about the title…can you guess what it will be?

We live in a world of communication – everyone gets information about everyone else. There is universal comparison and you don’t just compare yourself with the people next door, you compare yourself to people all over the world and with what is being presented as the decent, proper and dignified life. It’s the crime of humiliation.Zygmunt Bauman