Malden Reads, the community reading program in Malden, recently picked their book of the year for 2016. “The Martian,” by Andy Weir, is a story about an astronaut with many other unique hobbies who goes on a mission to Mars. Later, he is bombarded with a major dust storm which caused his crew to leave him behind, assuming he was dead. The eerie read has an astounding 4.5/5 stars on goodreads.com, and it appears to be a big hit in the space-exploration genre.
When picking their book of the year, Malden Reads asks the whole community to help participate in the choosing. Malden Reads has a suggestion box at the Malden Public Library for people in the community to put in their own recommendations. “We include an article in the local newspapers, and we reach out to everyone on our email list and also post to Facebook,” says Jodie Zalk, Malden Reads’ co-facilitator. Zalk says that when choosing the book of the year, the selection group asks a few key questions to make sure their selection is suitable for people in the community.
The recent news about Mars appeared to have greatly influenced the interest in space exploration for a theme for book of the year. “We were really interested in the story here about an astronaut left behind on Mars -- there are so many possibilities for us to draw on for programming this year,” says Zalk when talking about why “The Martian,” was chosen. There were about 15 strong contenders for book of the year for 2016, including fiction and nonfiction reads, adventure-themed books, as well as one heartfelt book solely about love and loss. Although many other books were strong runner-ups, “The Martian,” by Andy Weir was by far the best choice for Malden Reads’ 2016 book of the year.