A Time Magazine "Best Comix of the Year" and New York Times Notable Book, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis -- a graphic novel, has been selected as the 2009 choice for Centre County Reads.
Centre County Reads is an effort to encourage all members of the community to read and discuss the same book. Centre County Reads has been selecting annual books since 2003.
Persepolis tells Satrapi's account of her childhood, ages 6 to 14, in Iran during the Iranian Revolution.
The kick off program for the novel will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Downsbrough Community Room at Schlow Centre Region Library.
Chai tea will be served, and State College resident and Pakistani native Talat Azhar will discuss how a girl's education can be affected by war, said Pat Griffith, chairwoman of Centre County Reads and head of the adult department at Schlow library.
Events related to Persepolis will continue around the county through March. The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., will screen the film version of the book on Feb. 22.
The book sparked particular interest to the selection committee, Griffith said.
"We were interested in the multicultural aspect, since Iran continues to be in the news," Griffith said. "Then in the complete other vein, we were interested because it's a graphic novel."
The graphic novel, a comic book with a twist, generally provides a more involved storyline. The committee discussed that the graphic novel format might be off-putting to some readers, Griffith said.
One skeptic was Jenny Litz, a supervisor of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Library and Web editor for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.
"I almost wasn't going to read it, but then I loved it," she said. "The consensus of the group is that they thought it would have a wide appeal. I think it's going to appeal to more people than it's going to turn off."
Meredith Rogers, community relations manager at Barnes & Noble, 365 Benner Pike, is on the board for Centre County Reads and has involved the store with the initiative.
"It's really a group effort," Rogers said. "As a store, we support Centre County Reads because we all try to expose the community to good books, not so much just the bestsellers."
To help the program, Rogers said that after the first 50 copies of Persepolis sell in the store, the store will donate 50 copies to the library. Rogers added that an important advantage of the program is communication.
"Especially in this age of computers and technology, all we do is e-mail," Rogers said. "No one holds a conversation anymore. This is exciting because you're really getting people -- no pun intended -- on the same page."