On Tuesday, the University continued its One Book Villanova celebration with an all-day visit from author of novel “Good Kings, Bad Kings,” Susan Nussbaum.
One Book Villanova is the campus-wide effort that spans the academic year to unite the University community in the reading and studying of one book.
This year’s selection fosters conversations on the University campus about an often undermined community, adolescents with disabilities.
Nussbaum’s novel follows the lives of disabled young people living in an institution for people with disabilities.
On the One Book Villanova website, the novel’s setting, the institution called ILLC, is described as a place “where friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin, all despite an atmosphere of neglect and abuse.”
The story focuses in on these adolescents and their fight to find the strength to resist all of their mistreatment. One Book Villanova hopes that this book sparks conversation on campus about the treatment of people with disabilities in today’s society.
“The author has captured so well the voices, the concerns and difficulties of being in an institution without your family, or your own resources. The bulk of the story takes place inside of an institution most of us will never visit. In fact, most of us don’t really want to think about such institutions, how they are run, nor how the safety and security of its residents are protected,” said Terry Nance, One Book Committee co-chair.
The plot of “Good Kings, Bad Kings” is inspirational in light of the University’s recent work with people with disabilities in the past few years.
University student group LeVeL, formed in 2012 and dedicated to serving the needs of people with disabilities, recently won a $5,000 award from Johnson & Johnson for their advocacy work. Also, the University notably celebrated its 25th anniversary Special Olympics Fall Festival this past November, which is still the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world.
“The goal of One Book Villanova is to find something that would bring us together in a meaningful way,” Nance said.
Villanova seeks One Book to unite the community and spark conversation.
It brings students, faculty, staff and other members of the community together through an author’s work that is directly relevant to the University and its values.
“I often talk about my favorite image: a student with the book in hand for class and one of the dining services employees with the book in her lap reading when it gets slow,” Nance said.
“I hope, mostly, that they enjoy it. That they have fun with it. As bleak as it can be in spots, I think that there is reason to believe that it is not all darkness out there,” Susan Nussbaum, said author of Good Kings, Bad Kings.
Tuesday’s visit from Nussbaum featured an invitation only luncheon with the author in the One Book Committee, a book signing and student talk in Falvey Library, Dinner with the Author in Dougherty with a special menu in store, as well as a lecture by the Nussbaum to wrap up the day.
With the current success of the program fully obvious on campus, the committe is making a few changes to the 2014-2015 One Book calendar. The committee will be announcing the next book this coming spring and are hoping to have an author visit in the fall of 2014.
While the book tends to be dark at some points and funny in others, Nussbaum shared her favorite part of the entire book.
“I like a lot of the book. I do kind of love the last chapter…maybe because it was the last chapter,” she said.
For Nussbaum’s first visit to campus, she was left impressed with students, faculty and staff alike.
“It’s completely awed me,” Nussbaum said. “The people are warm and funny and have done such a good job hosting and hostessing me. It’s an extraordinary place.”
The One Book Villanova program is something unique to the University, allowing students from all across campus and various courses of study to come together by a common thread.
“It’s the first I’ve ever heard of its kind at a university,” Nussbaum said. “I think it’s a wonderful idea… that there’s one thing that all of you, from all of the different majors and schools can be a part of.”
With the end of her University visit in sight, Nussbaum looked back on her experience Tuesday before the dinner and her evening lecture.