Library picks Shapiro memoir for One Book Steamboat community read |

Library picks Shapiro memoir for One Book Steamboat community read

"Inheritance" by Dani Shapiro is on tap to be the 2020 One Book Steamboat community read.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A single book will serve as the linchpin for a full slate of community conversation and education as part of the upcoming One Book Steamboat community read.

Bud Werner Memorial Library presents One Book Steamboat each year, with a focus on literary works that will inspire and promote conversation across the community.

Author Dani Shapiro’s memoir, “Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love,” was chosen as this year’s book. It’s a critically acclaimed bestseller that “fits the bill perfectly,” according to Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator at the library. “It’s a popular book, a popular author … and is accessible.” The library will be stocking extra copies, and the paperback version becomes available Tuesday, Jan. 28.

“Inheritance” examines what defines a person. “What makes us who we are?” is the chief question being offered up by Shapiro.

The contents of her memoir took shape in the spring of 2016 when Shapiro discovered her father was not her biological father. That fact turned her life upside down — she no longer felt as if she had an identity, or at least not the one she previously knew. Shapiro examines and reassesses her life on a journey to self-awareness, encountering themes central to self discovery, love, shame, science and technology and the capacity of the human heart.

Several events are scheduled through February and March to further discussion and understanding of many themes from the novel. The events culminate with a visit from Shapiro. 

One Book Steamboat has become a signature event for the library, bringing avid community participation, according to Lay.

“We’re interested in promoting the reading of the book on a deeper level,” Lay said. “People really read it for the story, but also read it for the provocative conversations that can come from it.”

The events include:

Genealogy 101 — 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Library Hall

With genealogy being a central theme of “Inheritance,” it was apropos for the library to educate the community on the tools it has available for familial research.

“This is certainly a story of identity, what is family, privacy and spiritual identity,” Lay explained. “These are all really compelling points for discussion.”

At this first community event, reference librarian John Major will share an overview of the library’s physical, virtual and human resources available for genealogical research, including method-specific texts, databases and programming. Major will also explain ways to access the collections, including publicly available hardware and software. He will follow up with quick and common search demonstrations for several resources.

“Data Mining the Deceased” — 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Library Hall

Following along with the genealogy theme, the library will host a special screening of the documentary, “Data Mining the Deceased,” with focuses on privacy concerns.

Following the documentary will be a Q & A with filmmaker Julia Creet.

In her film, Creet explores the industry behind the exponential intensity of genealogy, raising some key questions, namely regarding the concerns over ownership and privacy of personal data about the living and the dead.

“This really is about the privacy conversation, which is definitely a thread in Dani Shapiro’s book, for sure,” Lay said.

Exploring the Sacred: Identity and Spirituality — 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, at Library Hall

A big component of Shapiro’s book involves the notion of spirituality and coming to terms with one’s own identity. To explore that further, the library will host a conversation about the nature of identity with Steamboat Springs’ spiritual leaders.

Shapiro’s story is that she was raised Jewish orthodox, and once she discovered who her father was, she was not of Jewish heritage on that side, Lay explained.

The traditions that will be represented on the panel are Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholic, Christian and A Course in Miracles.

“Decoding Watson” — 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Library Hall

Turning to the science and technology aspects of “Inheritance,” a showing of the recent documentary, “Decoding Watson,” will introduce viewers to Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson, who was behind the double helix.

With unprecedented access to Watson and his family, director Mark Mannucci explores the scientist’s life, achievements, controversies and contradictions. His discovery of DNA’s structure revolutionized human understanding of how life works. The film uncovers his signature achievements, complexities and contradictions, including his penchant for expressing unfiltered and objectionable points of view.

Discussion: “Inheritance” — Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the conference room of the library administration wing

The Steamboat community is encouraged to come together to discuss “Inheritance.” The library has purchased extra copies for its collection, so everyone is able to check out a copy of the book, read it and participate in the community conversation.

Author Event: Dani Shapiro — 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, in Library Hall

“Inheritance” author Dani Shapiro will be welcomed to the community at the finale of One Book Steamboat.

Shapiro will talk about her book, which has garnered critical acclaim and bestseller status, led to a podcast about other people’s family secrets and a stop on the couch with Oprah for a “Super Soul Sunday.” 

After six weeks of reading and expanded learning, it will be Shapiro’s role to deepen the conversation and share her personal story. Books will be available for sale, and an author signing will be held courtesy of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.

“She’s excited to be part of our community read,” Lay said. “We’re really excited to have her, and I think the community is in for a really big treat.”

To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email

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