Davis Ranches in Grimes on Saturday provided a tranquil setting for the Virginia Yerxa Community Read Day.
The annual event celebrated the 2021 book-in-common selection “Watership Down,” a 1972 adventure novel by English author Richard Adams.
The 413-page book, which was announced in December, centers around a small group of wild rabbits that travel through the English countryside to find a new home.
“It’s the book that made me a reader,” said Colusa County Library Director Stacey Costello, a VYCR Day organizer.
Costello said she read Adams’ novel on a trip with her aunt to England and Scotland when she was in the eighth grade.
About half of those attending Saturday’s event had read the book recently or were still in the process of reading the lengthy story. Several, like Costello, read the book years earlier and were delighted by the selection.
Saturday’s event was held entirely outdoors on the grounds of the Davis Mansion, which was built in the late 19th century in the former farming community known as Sycamore.
Organizers selected Watership Down in order to fashion an outdoor event after the 2020 VYCR for Amy Tan’s novel “The Joy Luck Club” was canceled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual book-in-common celebration is named for the late Virginia Wilson Yerxa, who was a strong advocate for reading. The program was organized in 2009 to connect a group of diverse people each year through the selected book in common in order to discover, explore, or renew a common interest.
“The vision of the Virgina Yerxa Community Read Day is to bring the community together,” said Loni Gross.
About 75 people from the community participated in the community read program at the ranch, which included a plein air painting class led by artist Mary Ann Nation, a self-guided story walk along the marshes, and a discussion of the book in relation to environmental humanities and animal fables, led by U.C. Davis Professor Michael Ziser.
Representatives from Colusa County Master Gardeners, The Farmer’s Daughter, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service provided information. Sauced Food Truck provided lunch.
VYCR founder Roberta James said it was wonderful to attend the daylong event as a participant rather than an organizer this year.
“I’m so impressed with the events that they planned,” James said. “It was so fun to be on this end of Virginia Read.”
VYCR is currently soliciting suggestions for the 2022 book-in-common. The book will be announced later in 2021 so that activities can be planned for the April celebration of the community reading project. §