by Kim Charlson

Join Library Users of America at the convention on July 8, 2009, for our first One Book, One ACB book discussion group event. The broader concept of the "One Book ..." activity originally started as a community-wide reading, or "One Book," program designed to promote the value of reading by recommending a compelling book that links the community in a common conversation. Everyone reads the same book, and then people participate in One Book programs which encourage dialogue about a particular book, but also foster lifelong learning and the development of a strong community identity.

Launched in Seattle in 1998 with great success, the "One Book" concept has swept the nation, and is a true reading/library phenomenon. LUA is proud to be bringing this community-building experience to ACB with the first One Book, One ACB event. Please join us on Wednesday, July 8 at 3:30 p.m. for the book discussion group featuring the book "A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler" by Jason Roberts. Just check out the book, read it and come prepared to participate in or listen to the discussion and share the experience with others who enjoy reading and discussing this compelling book. This title is available in many formats from many sources, including: from NLS as hard copy Braille or Web-Braille BR16660, on cassette as RC62703, as a downloadable digital book DB62703; from RFB&D as HQ920; available for download at Bookshare and it can be purchased from

"A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler" by Jason Roberts is a biography of Englishman James Holman (1786-1857), who was blinded at age 25 after serving in the Napoleonic wars and who then achieved fame as a world traveler. Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, tells this compelling story of the life of the 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded, but nevertheless became one of the greatest travelers of his time. Roberts depicts Holman quite accurately, characterizing him with both grace and wit and evoking a realistic image of "The Blind Traveler."

Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic wars. Following his blindness, Holman continued on as an accomplished sailor, and he arranged to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, an unusual fraternity whose members only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass to collect their stipend. For most blind people of the period, blindness would have been the start of a long march to the grave. But Holman was determined, and wanted none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging trips, and leave from the Knights, in order to travel around the world without assistance. He undertakes such interesting adventures as traveling from Paris to Canton; studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunting slavers off the coast of Africa; gets arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publishes several best-selling travel memoirs. Roberts re-creates each journey, both geographical and physiological, providing insights into 18th-century beliefs, mores, and worldly knowledge, along with descriptions of the ghastly array of cures inflicted on Holman by practitioners of medicine of the era.

Decide now to order your copy of "A Sense of the World" and plan to join the One Book, One ACB reading event at the convention -- you'll be glad you did!

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