The State Library’s “Iowa Center for the Book” is encouraging Iowans to read the book “Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio.” The book was chosen by the “All Iowa Reads Committee.”
Iowa City Public Library director Susan Craig is the committee’s co-chair. Craig says the book’s subject is “intriguing” and the group thought it would spark lots of discussion among Iowans. “I’m 54 and I have these memories of the early ’50s when my mother was very cautious about us going to the swimming pools because people thought maybe you got polio at the swimming pool,” Craig says. “…Many…middle aged people have memories of being in Iowa and their family members being stricken by polio or many people themselves suffered from polio.”
The book also conveys the excitement of finding a cure for such a serious illness, according to Craig. “We think that that is very pertinent in today’s world and the concerns that are out there about possible epidemics or bioterrorism and the many, many people who are working to make sure that tragedies don’t happen,” Craig says. She says reading the book gives one a better understanding of what work goes into finding a cure. This is the fifth year for the “All Iowa Reads” project and the first time a work of non-fiction has been chosen.
About two-hundred Iowa public libraries hosted book discussions about last year’s “All Iowa Reads” book — “Gilead” — which was written by Marilynne Robinson who teaches at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. “Our goal is to promote conversation about a book and we know that’s happening,” the librarian says. There is some information about this year’s book available on-line at www.iowacenterforthebook.org.