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St. Charles

Waking the 'Dead'

Readers delve into afterlife issues with city-wide book program

Check out an interview with Kevin Brockmeier, author of “The Brief History of the Dead,”in PlanItKane.

ST. CHARLES - The St. Charles Public Library and Elgin Community College have given everyone in the community something in common.


The two are co-sponsors of this year's “Our Community Reads” program, which encourages the entire community to read and discuss the same book. This year's selection is Kevin Brockmeier's “The Brief History of the Dead,” an evocative story of an Arctic adventure, an apocalyptic future and an ethereal afterlife.


“Basically, the goal is to engage and enlighten our residents and foster a sense of community and create a culture of reading,” said Pam Salomone, communications and marketing manager for the St. Charles Public Library. “... It's not just reading the book. It's exploring other facets and engaging readers to another level.”


To stimulate further discussion of the novel, programming begins April 4 at the St. Charles Public Library, 1 S. 6th Ave. and events are scheduled through April 16. All programs are free and explore the themes of the book.

“We try to find something that's accessible to a wide audience and discussable,” said Marlise Schiltz, Readers Services Librarian for St. Charles Public Library. “(The book) is unusual. It has a lot of different things going on you don't read in every book you pick up.”

Among the programs are:

  • Art of the Afterlife at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4
  • Living History: Writing Memoirs, Journals and Blogs at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, April 13
  • How the Afterlife Has Been Depicted in Cinema at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16.

“We have a great community of readers,” Schiltz said. “They're willing and adventurous to try new things with us.”


Book discussions are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. April 9.
An online blog also has been created to promote online discussion of the book.

“Our Community Reads is trying to give us a new way to talk about things with each other,” Schiltz said. “I think (readers) will find it an interesting read and will engage with, perhaps, an author they haven't read before.”

One of the most anticipated programs of Our Community Reads is the author visit. Brockmeier will visit the St. Charles Public Library at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. He will read from “The Brief History of the Dead” and answer questions about his book. Schiltz said the event will provide readers with a chance to see the book from different angles.

“I've already been talking with people who have finished the book and they definitely have questions,” Schiltz said.

St. Charles Public Library has “The Brief History of the Dead” in circulation in paperback, large print book, audiobook and eBook. It also has copies of the book for sale for $10. The title is recommended for those high-school aged and older.


This is the fifth year the library has participated in Our Community Reads and the first year it has held the program since 2007.

For more information on any of the scheduled programs, or to participate in discussion on the blog, log on to

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