By JOY CRIST
With winter comes a newfound island-wide movement towards the safety and comfort of the couch.
It’s the perfect time to slow down, enjoy an unhurried pace and curl up with a good book.
For those not up on the latest good reads, just turn on the radio.
A global community read is happening now with participants joining in from all across the country and even the world, and the initiative’s roots started right here on Hatteras Island.
The Blue Mind worldwide community read is an opportunity for local island fans to discover a new book that perfectly connects with the island lifestyle. Readers also can join in the conversation through Q&As with the author, and connect with a network of fellow book-lovers – all without venturing into the winter weather.
GeeGee Rosell, owner of the iconic Buxton Village Books, started the project as a way to promote the local Radio Hatteras – a FEMA-funded station that has proven essential during hurricanes, and which provides important information on all the happenings around the island.
“I wanted to be able to support the radio station in a broader way than just sending money,” says GeeGee. “…I wanted to get the word out. So I started a community read called Hatteras Island Reads.”
The virtual book club works a lot like a physical book club, but with the added bonuses for folks who want to join, but either aren’t on the island, or who don’t want to venture outside.
Every week, a new chapter or portion of the book is broadcast on Radio Hatteras, and the author answers questions, add notes and annotations, and gives a personal perspective to the story as it unfolds.
Previous books in the Hatteras Island Reads arsenal include In the “Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick, “Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson, and “The Kinnakeeter” by Charles T. Williams II, which came out as a second edition this past April.
“The way I chose books was to select non-fiction – true stories – about the ocean, shipwrecks, storms: something that would evoke life at the beach, and life on the island, with an author who would participate with us.”
GeeGee reaches out to the author for every community read, and for every book chosen so far, the author has been an intricate part of the book club.
“I pick up the phone and call the author, and say ‘Hi there, I’ve sold your book for years, and we’d like to do a community read on our local FEMA-funded radio station…’ and every author has been happy to join in,” says GeeGee. “People can send in questions, and then I pass the questions along to the author, and then I record an interview with the author that is played on the radio station.”
The community read has had as many as 300 participants which includes both locals, and folks who simply have ties to the beach, and especially to Hatteras Island. “That’s the idea of community reading, because the ‘community’ can be all of the people who vacation here. It gives them a sense of ownership of Hatteras Island as their vacation home,” says GeeGee.
GeeGee also donates books that are being read to the school and to the Hatteras Island library so folks don’t have to own a copy to participate. For those who do want their own book for following along, the current book club selections are sold at a discount at her store.
It’s been a great success for both readers and Radio Hatteras, with up to 300 participants at one time, but this new installment is proving to meet and exceed expectations.
Meet “Blue Mind” – (Formally known as “Blue Mind. The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do”) – and its author, Wallace J. Nichols.
To put it mildly, Nichols known his stuff.
“Dr. Wallace J. Nichols,” his bio reads, “called ‘Keeper of the Sea’ by GQ Magazine and ‘a visionary’ by Outside Magazine, is an innovative, silo-busting, entrepreneurial scientist, movement maker, renown marine biologist, voracious Earth and idea explorer, wild water advocate, bestselling author, sought after lecturer, and fun-loving Dad. He also likes turtles (a lot.)”
Nichols has authored more than 200 publications including scientific papers, technical reports, and book contributions, and has appeared in hundreds of print, film, radio, and television media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Elle, Vogue, Surfer Magazine, Scientific American, and New Scientist, just to name a few.
His book “Blue Mind,” published in 2014, became a national bestseller and has been translated to numerous languages around the world.
And now, he’s chatting with island residents and fans of Hatteras Island Reads. And it all started with an email from GeeGee.
“For this one, I walked past Nichols book “Blue Mind”. and it just kind of jumped out at me,” she says. “I love that book. I’ve been selling it [as a] hardcover since 2014, and I’ve sold hundreds of copies.”
After that initial epiphany, GeeGee sent an email to Nichols who in turn responded within an hour and a half, and said he would be happy to do it. “Then he called me and said ‘Let’s think big, let’s make this worldwide!’ I have to give much credit to ‘J’ for reaching out to his contacts and bringing them onboard. It’s really turned into a movement of sorts.”
The book begins with the Outer Banks – it starts with Jennette’s Pier – and it outlines how people are connected to the water.
“It takes the science of the neurological response of a human to water, and makes it accessible… You don’t even have to understand what the word ‘neuroscience’ means,” says GeeGee. “At any given page you’ll say ‘oh, I knew that!’ because you know that your blood pressure goes down, your heart rate goes down, and the answers you were mulling over for a life-changing situation become more available to you when you walk on the beach, or put your kayak in the water and go for a paddle…”
“Everything about life makes more sense when we’re next to the water,” she adds, “and this book explains to us why, without weighing us down with technology and science… The notes at the back are maybe 15 pages long regarding source materials, so it’s very scientifically based, but the book itself explains it in layperson language.”
The read is already underway, although new participants are welcome to join in. “Each read generally lasts several months to give folks time to read at their leisure, and formulate questions, and email them to the bookstore.”
There’s also ample options to join in and connect.
Readers with questions for the author can email them to Buxton Village Books, or can log onto Facebook to post their queries or join in the live Q&As which are held nightly at 9 p.m.
For those who want to “read along,” or want to make a drive more pleasant and engaging, they can tune into Radio Hatteras (101.5 and 99.9) at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when chapters of the book are read aloud.
Best of all, people who want to listen in don’t have to drive back and forth on NC Highway 12 to catch a whole chapter, or dig out their battery-operated storm radios. The shows also s live on www.radiohatteras.org , and listeners can also download the app to their mobile device.
Questions are always welcome – regardless of the chapter or the content. “Any sort of interaction is great, and the [chapter] doesn’t matter,” says GeeGee. “It’s all about connections, because connecting people to water is the whole point of the book.”
To date, the 2017 Worldwide Blue Mind Online Book Club has 500 participants – which includes folks from all across the county, as well as participants from Finland, Scotland, and even Palau. “We’re heavily into week number 2 of a 10-week read, and more folks are finding out about it and joining us all the time,” says GeeGee. “We’re hoping to be up to 1,000 by the time we’re finished.”
A March 25 Event Finale & Fundraiser also is planned right where the initiative started – on Hatteras Island – with event details to follow soon.
In the meantime, the event is accomplishing the original goal by getting the word out about Radio Hatteras to an extended population that’s miles away from our island home.
“’J’ mentions Radio Hatteras on just about every Facebook broadcast, and that’s the whole point –– to benefit Radio Hatteras and get more folks aware of Radio Hatteras,” she says. “It’s just a collateral benefit that folks might feel better about the way they interact with the planet. So everybody wins.”
Chapters from the book are being broadcast on Radio Hatteras (101.5 and 99.9) at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Radio Hatteras can be streamed, everywhere, at www.radiohatteras.org. Folks also can download the app to listen in on a mobile device.
Facebook Live is available nightly at 9 p.m., featuring questions from readers and guest protagonists from the book. All evenings are archived, and visitors can easily catch up at any time. Check out the Blue Mind Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bluemindlife/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE and use the #bluemind hashtag to follow the conversation on social media.
Questions for the author can be submitted via Facebook through the Blue Mind page or through Buxton Village Books at [email protected] or https://www.facebook.com/Buxton-Village-Books-Inc-106803089848/?fref=ts
Books are available for purchase at Buxton Village Books or can be borrowed from Hatteras Library. All Proceeds benefit Radio Hatteras and Blue Mind Life.
For more info, visit http://www.buxtonvillagebooks.com/