Malden Reads Community Dinner: United through Books and Food

On a rainy Thursday night at 110 Grill, the Malden Reads community got together and held a community dinner following the tradition that has been going on for many years. This year’s dinner has been the 14th consecutive annual dinner the Malden Reads community has held, each celebrating a different piece of literature. See “Malden Reads Turns a Page New Year With Season 14 Kickoff Event” “ and “The Malden Reads Book of the Year, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist”.

The community of Malden Reads eating dinner at 110 Grill Malden. NATHALY TEJADA.

Malden Reads is a community program meant to bring Maldonians together, whether it be by book, community gatherings, or conversation.

The community first started when two of the founders, Jodie Zalk, and her mother, sought inspiration from seeing another community in the local newspaper do the same, enveloping this idea with Malden.

“It just seemed like a really great idea to get the community together,” Zalk explained.

With that, they started the Malden Reads, and it has since bloomed into a great program that gets the community and the whole of Malden together to chat about books and the feelings that come with them. 

Each year, Malden Reads chooses a book and makes it a goal for everyone to read it, ultimately creating a reading experience that is relatable amongst each other and opening new discussions. 

To choose a book, the community thinks of many things regarding it, such as checking its availability, how many pages it may be, if there is an audio version making it easier for people who may not enjoy reading, how expensive it is, versions in other languages, and other considerations to make it as accessible as possible. 

Malden Reads filters the selection of the book from as many as 40 books, as they have a huge variety of books to take into consideration, as they try to find the best book there is.

“We take all suggestions, and we end up asking ourselves: which book do we think will be meaningful for the city this year?” Zalk said. 

Zalk also described that joining the community can change people, like young people, causing a notable change in how they approach a reading challenge or just the general idea of reading. 

The community dinners, or more the concept of the whole Malden Reads, is something that was rooted in Seattle, Washington. Malden Reads had gotten inspiration from the “One city, one book” concept and wanted to incorporate that idea with theirs.

Over the last 14 years within the Malden Reads community, many people have joined and have participated in the meetings that took place, such as the one hosted this year, getting to know each other if they were new to the program. 

“Some people are just meeting each other for the first time, and other times it’s people who have known each other for a long time,” Co-Facilitator Anne D’Urso-Rose stated. 

The dinners that Malden Reads hosts are dinners that discuss many things involving the community, deeper conversations surrounding the books, or just discourse about what is in the book.

In the future, Malden Reads hopes to get even more people involved in the “One city, one book” concept, and be able to incorporate reading or a bond with the community, connecting everyone through similar events and happenings in their lives, to further tighten everyone’s camaraderie. 

For more information, visit the Malden Reads website and start your journey with the community.

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