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Pierce County READS does more than promote reading

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The Pierce County Library system READS is marking its 10th year with the selection of a book that is not only gripping and impactful, but also relevant and local.
The county’s largest community one-book reading program is encouraging everyone to read “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War” by Mary Roach. READS selected the book not only because of the book’s content, but as a way to strengthen the ties and understanding between the area’s civilian population and its military residents, particularly at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It is celebrating 100 years of operation after all, and remains the county’s largest employer and economic engine.
The book takes a hard, but readable, and often humorous look at the science behind life of service in the military, from exhaustion and panic, to long marches and post-combat stress and fatique. But it also examines the science that goes into the design of military uniforms and equipment as well as the dietary research that military food undergoes to provide meals that are edible, nutritious and portable. It reads less like a “science book” and more like an episode of “Myth Busters,” which makes it a great read for people of all reading levels.
But on top of the content itself is the fact that READS picked the book as a way to connect people and communities in a time when everyone in the nation seems more divided than ever. While the book isn’t going to get people of diverse politcal views singing in harmony, it will at least help bridge the divide by providing ways for people to find commonality. It’s a start.
A kickoff open house of the community event is planned for March 11 at 3-5 p.m., at Lewis Army Museum on Joint Base Lewis-McChord that will include music, food, special museum exhibits, and brief remarks at 3:15 p.m. Other events will dot the calendar in March and April to allow people to attend book discussions around the county that will explore everything from military medical science, to cooking for an army, to Robert S. McNamara’s career as Secretary of Defense, and the seen and unseen impacts of war on military personnel.
The highlight of Pierce County READS is the author event, slated for Friday, April 28, 7 p.m. at McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College. Ariel Van Cleave, KNKX’s “Morning Edition” producer, will interview Roach onstage. Afterward, Roach will autograph books. The author event will also be live streamed at seven locations around the county.
Give “Grunt” a read and get out to talk about it. The journey is worth the investment.

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