Books as prisms, refracting our experience – John Connolly’s FPL visit

Author John Connolly graced the Ferndale Public Library with a spirited speech on the nuances of experiencing the written word, -from both the reader and writer’s perspective.


Connolly, a best-selling author based in Dublin with an established renown in the genres of suspense and mystery, was able to bring his effervescence into our humble Community Room as a result of serendipity – he happened to be here, touring the states, and found it quite feasible to wheel his way up through metro Detroit for the last leg of his trip – thus being able to stop in and acknowledge the Ferndale Reads Event that FPL has been celebrating all month, based around his 2006 novel, The Book of Lost Things…

“Books are not fixed items,” Mr. Connolly said of their imposing and trascendental powers. “(They) have the power to change us… No two people can read a book the same way.”

Mr. Connolly added that he just couldn’t see bound/print books going away in the face of a rising Kindle. Kindles, he said, are merely the next (and currently most convenient) mode of transportation, for a certain media – not dissimilar from CD’s with music. But, as CD’s fade…vinyl records still perservere in sustained popularity. Kindles will likely just be the CD’s to bound/print books’ vinyl.

If vinyl’s been around for more than 90 years and still hasn’t gone away, then, consider the track record of books – thousands of years!


“Fiction,” Connolly said, “is like a prism…a refraction of our experiences.”

Connolly spoke, stirringly, on the consoling escapism of books.

Books, Connolly said, literature, writing, reading…is “the only artform that allows us to completely inhabit the consciousness of another person.”

Writers, Connolly said, are looking for a truth. As they write, they are sketching out what becomes a kind of universal/identifiable truth. “And that,” he said, “is the moment of contact,” for the art form of reading and writing, from author to reader, which can be “immensely consoling.”

No two people read a book the same way, but we all can find our own universal truths, based on our view of fiction’s refractions (of what we identify with as our experience).

“Books,” he said, and would later include albums -with music, no matter how old, how long dead the author, or how seemingly outdated the premise or setting, “are constantly being revised by the people that read them.”

Thank you to all who particpated in this year’s Ferndale Reads Event, and thank you to all who came out to our free author’s speak, and thank you to all who contributed to next year’s Reads Event via the author Afterglow fundraiser.

See you next winter/spring, for next year’s book.

But don’t forget to grab a copy of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help

This book will be getting a subtler “Community Reads” treatment… with only one main event centered around it: A Book Party @ The Emory, for discussion and bookworm-networking, May 19th @ 7:30 pm – (1st drink free with proof of library card).

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