Books Matter: Fiona Bond

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Katie Barbur

The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a story of adventure, of brotherhood, of courage and sacrifice. 

Fiona Bond is the Executive Director of Creative Waco, an arts advocacy organization based in the art gallery Cultivate 7Twelve, her favorite book is The Lost Letters of Pergamum.

“It’s by Bruce Longenecker, who happens to be my husband,” Bond said. “It’s a book about the first century world and it’s a series of letters. And it is, as Bruce’s mom used to say, it’s not a true story, but it could have been true. So it’s historical fiction, essentially. But it is based on a series of fact and conjecture, which pulls together a story which kind of impacts the New Testament world.”

Bond said there are a number of reasons why the book matters to her. 

“I think it captures what it means to live in love, courage and sacrifice,” Bond said. “The other aspect of the book that makes it really special to me is that we hear from people from all over the world.”

Bond said she recommends Wacoans read The Lost Letters of Pergamum, because it is a book that takes readers into a completely different cultural context. 

“I think that’s important for us to immerse ourselves into because it helps us to understand the New Testament better,” Bond said. “But it also helps us to understand the other cultures that make up this culture.”

Bond said it’s important for Wacoans to read. 

“It allows us to step outside our context,” Bond said. “That’s just good therapy.”

Bond said for her, books have always been a way of looking at the world through someone else’s lens. 

“Whether it’s a story, pure fiction, nonfiction, a biography, whatever,” Bond said, “to see the world and to have the gift of seeing the world completely from someone else’s perspective, is something we should hold very precious.”

Books Matter: Kyle Deaver

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By: Alexis Scott

Modern times have fostered an environment that puts technology at an all-time high. Smartphones, tablets and laptops hold power over kids, teens and adults more and more each day. Snapchat, Instagram and other apps like Twitter have infiltrated the daily lives of people across the globe. With the attention now on screens, activities that maintain essential value, like reading, have been forgotten.

Many people still believe in the power of the written word; one of those people is Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver. Deaver said he thinks reading is an essential part of character development. 

“I think it opens your mind to new ideas, in ways that no other medium can,” Deaver said. 

Mayor Deaver appreciates the stories that hold true meaning, especially redemption stories. Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book Unbroken exemplifies what reading really means to him.

“I just think it’s such an amazing story of the human spirit,” Mayor Deaver said. “I just think that this is the kind of story that young people should be reading, that they should know.”

Reading is not something to be left in the past. It is essential not only for entertainment but allows people to open their minds to stories with meaning and lessons to learn in ways that technology and social media cannot.

“Those things are great, but you get to dive deeply into ideas, I think that’s the main difference,” Deaver said. 

Put down the screen and pick up a book and open your mind to new ideas.

Books Matter: Kelly Filgo

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Haylee Bernard

Kelly Filgo, lead director of specialized projects at the Texas State Technical College, said his favorite book gave him, “words to put on what I already felt, believed.”

Filgo educates students while they train for aviation careers. Filgo’s favorite book is The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distractions by Matthew Crawford. 

Filgo said the book “is a look through the lens of classical philosophy but applied to modern Western culture. About how as a culture, we are not very good at giving sustained attention to what we do and what that means for us.”

The book is about how people do not have the opportunity to give themselves honest self-evaluations, and this prevents people from being resilient and dedicating time and attention to one thing. 

“We lack the constructive criticism. People say it is the youth and their cellphones. However, Crawford dispels that immediately and says that culturally, we reject prior knowledge and challenge things, but what we mistakenly did was equate individuality with self-sufficiency. What we tend to do in that case is create a warped self-image,” Filgo said. 

Filgo said an important lesson in the book is that hobbies lead to good practices, because they provide us with an opportunity to focus on one task and provide us with obvious feedback. Filgo engages in the art of 3D printing as one of his hobbies, because he said it allows him to perfect his craft through learning from his mistakes. 

Filgo said the most valuable takeaway of this book is, “learning how to stay focused long enough to know when you are getting it and to know when you are not and to be honest with yourself enough and say that it was not good enough.”

Books Matter: John Kinnaird

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here

By Kaitlyn McMillan

Books are an essential part of life. Whether it’s a book from your childhood or one that was recently released, we all have one that matters and connects us to a special time in our lives. For Waco Councilman John Kinnaird, The Poky Little Puppy, is one that happened to pave the way for the rest of his life.

“This book sort of laid the groundwork for a lifelong interest in reading and learning,” Kinnaird said.

Many of us recall books from our childhood specifically for the story, either a fairytale or one that taught us a lesson, but for Kinnaird, his is different.

“It’s a classic,” he said. “I wouldn’t really recommend it for the story or the subject matter, or even a lesson that might be able to be learned from it because you kind of have to squint your eyes for it.”

Kinnaird said he believes that with any book regardless of the message, reading with your kids is an important thing to engage in, especially now in our growing world of technology.

“I would encourage people to read this with their kids or with their loved ones just because doing something together like that is kind of what we’re built for,” Kinnaird said. “Sitting in my mom’s lap reading this for all of those hours meant so much to me and still means so much to me now, because it’s that time and love that sets us up for success down the road. Sitting with your kid and doing this is a lot better than playing on your phone.”

National Reading Month is an important time for everyone as we try to encourage people to put down their smartphones, pick up a book and connect with their loved ones. For Kinnaird, the memories cultivated with his mother were all made possible due to the first book he ever picked up, and one that he will never forget.

Books Matter: Andrea Barefield

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Amy Rickabaugh

Many people may take literacy for granted, but for Waco Councilwomen Andrea Barefield, reading is the only foundation for growth as a community. 

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni is a book that means a lot to Barefield, as it has been with her since she was in middle school.

“I have been able to find myself in the multiple stages of my life within the pages of this book,” Barefield said. 

The sections of this book dedicated to strength and empowerment, especially of African Americans, are some of Barefield’s favorites. 

Barefield points out a particular poem in the book called “Ego-Tripping” and says that “if when you read that poem you don’t believe in yourself, forget about it. There is not an opportunity for people to tell you that you are anything but fabulous.”

This is something that Barefield said she needed to hear when she was a young, impressionable, middle school girl. 

During these younger years, Barefield experienced the importance of getting her questions answered and following her curiosity about what she was seeing in the world she was growing up in. 

“Escaping in literature is one way we can go to the other side of whatever our curiosities are,” Barefield said. 

She encourages readers that the pages of a book aren’t judgmental, and they allow questions without blaming the reader for ignorance.

“Reading authors that write about cultures that you are unfamiliar with is the way to really have your questions answered without having to deal with the grey matter of people,” Barefield said. 

Barefield was raised by educators, who were raised by educators, so reading has been fundamental for her throughout her life. She says she knows that humans cannot do anything without a foundation. Barefield believes that the foundation of reading is the development for growth.

“Literacy and the importance of stimulating your mind is the only way foundationally we can grow and do anything else,” Barefield said.  

Books Matter: Ashley Toscano

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Sadie Hopkins

Ashley Toscano, who was named Teacher of the Year in the Waco Independent School District, teaches the spectrum of subjects to 22 multicultural third grade students at Hilcrest PDS elementary. 

“As a teacher I’m constantly telling my students to read for fun at home,” Toscano said. “I think it’s important that they have a model for that though. So, I try to be the example by going home and reading at least something every night.” 

She said she was impacted by many books in college, but her favorite would have to be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. She explains how it focuses on a young German orphan during World War II who was adopted into a radical family who hides a Jewish teenager. Toscano said one of her favorite themes in the book was that the little orphan girl steals books because she loves words and thinks they’re magical. 

“Interestingly the book is in the point of view of death. Death is almost a narrator in the book, watching it all take place,” Toscano said. “Because of everything that is happening in the concentration camps, he sees how terrible human beings are to each other. But he is choosing to focus on this child who is different from everyone else.”

She emphasized how The Book Thief isn’t a happy go lucky story, but that it carries a much more meaningful lesson than most. 

“One of the key themes would be the sanctity of life. The way someone lives and the way someone dies says a lot about them,” Toscano said. “I learned it’s really important to not take our lives for granted, because we are blessed with freedoms that years ago not everyone had.”

Toscano said she tries to read a picture book a day to her students to show the importance of reading for fun.

“I just try to really keep a culture of reading in my classroom,” Toscano said. “Every day our lessons focus on using real literature.”

Books Matter: Alfred Solano

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Mariah Bennett

 “Our greatness is our diversity. The best thing about life is diversity,” Alfred Solano said.

 Alfred Solano is the president and CEO of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (CTHCC). According to Solano, the CTHCC is about leadership and Latinx representation in the community.

Solano was first introduced to activism and representation work by his father, a Chicano activist in the Alliance of Mexican Americans in Waco. He truly understood representation’s importance at 11 years old when he found a book in his father’s massive literature collection, “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin,” an epic poem by Rodolfo Gonzales.

 In the poem the narrator Joaquin describes his struggles as a Mexican American born to Mexican born parents. What makes the poem special, besides its connection to the Chicano movement, is its structure. The poem is split in two columns on every page. On one column there is poetry written in Spanish and the other column there is an English translation. To a young Solano, “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin,” made him feel recognized, he said.

 Solano, like many Mexican Americans, was not taught Spanish growing up. With the book, Solano could learn the language thanks to the structure.

 “I remember thinking at the time…that’s really cool I can go from one [column] to another and learn,” Solano said.

 Solano said he was also able to learn from “I Am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” about how the Aztecs invented the concept of zero. Growing up, Solano had a love for math and said he felt connected to the Aztecs because of this. 

 “I’m part of this group that invented the concept of zeros … It really gave me a sense of power,” Solano said.

 “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” is a piece of literature that mattered to Solano as a child and still matters. The poem made Solano feel recognized as a Mexican American, which is the type of work Solano does today for the Latinx community. The CTHCC helps those in the community be recognized, represented and come into positions of leadership. “I am Joaquin, Yo Soy Joaquin” has shaped movements, cities and individual worlds like the ones of Alfred Solano.

Books Matter: Amy Sassatelli

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Megan Messer

For some people, reading books is a way to escape reality. For others, it’s a way of life. Amy Sassatelli, library assistant for Waco-McLennan County Library, reads about 100 books each year. Her favorite is a nonfiction book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

“It’s one of my main books. When people want recommendations I recommend this one. It’s one most people come back to me and say, ‘That was such a good book,’” Sassatelli said. “I like it because it’s more than it sounds. It sounds like the power of habits and you would think it would be just that, but it’s about so much more than just habits.”

Sassatelli said Duhigg’s book, which made the New York Times bestseller list in 2012, helps readers understand how their habits affect their work life and personal life.

“Humans are weird and complex creatures, and this book explains how we tend to make things more complicated in our minds than they really need to be,” Sassatelli said. “For example, making our beds. If you don’t do anything else, make your bed when you get out of it in the morning, and incrementally all of the little everyday things will sprout from there.”

The book touches on a variety of tasks people do in everyday life, and how different habits form out of the smaller things people do every day, even if they aren’t thinking about it.

 “It kind of explains why your brain does certain things and why it makes those connections. It makes one tiny thing affect your life in so many different ways,” Sassatelli said. “So, learning small changes that you can make to make your life better, why would you not do that?”

Even though she said she does not normally re-read books, Sassatelli has returned to The Power of Habit many times to give advice to her husband, sister-in-law and colleagues at work.

“I read a lot, so I definitely put thought into this book as one of my favorites,” Sassatelli said. “I think the good thing about this book is it makes you think that even if you better yourself in a small way, your brain still expects a reward of some type. If you read this book, you’ll pick up on things like that that will really surprise you.”

Books Matter: Allison Frenzel

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Lucy Ruscitto

 Allison Frenzel, co-owner of the Fabled Book Shop & Cafe says books are “the best way to experience a life you might never experience… allow[ing] the imagination to hope outside its boundaries of regular life.”

The next novel Frenzel believes that Wacoans should dedicate their time to is The Which Way Tree. Frenzel said she listened to Elizabeth Crook’s novel on audio and became “enraptured in the magic of it.”

“It’s a Western. I love a strong woman and adventure,” Frenzel said. “I recommend this book to all Wacoans because it’s a story that has a little bit of magic. As a piece of art, it was so beautiful.”

Frenzel’s understanding of the importance of literacy contributed to her drive to open a book store with Kimberly Batson.

“This is a town full of readers,” Frenzel said. “What if we had this place that could be a hub?”

Frenzel said when researching what the store’s name should be, she and Batson, co-owner of both Fabled and Common Grounds,  intentionally deliberated.

“We love the aspect Texas is known for, which is the tall-tale,” Frenzel said. “[Fabled] celebrates the nostalgia of fairytales and magic.”

Frenzel said the opening of the shop was “ironic” for her, as her son was diagnosed with dyslexia as the launch occurred. At first, she said she struggled knowing he would battle with something that often came naturally to other children his age.

“It really is a disability,” Frenzel said. “But then, we realized there’s so many strengths people with dyslexia have.”

Frenzel said that this was her motivation for opening Fabled.

“We better have really good books… that he feels are worth muscling through. Because of it, he loves to read. He just knows it’s hard work,” Frenzel said.

Frenzel acknowledges the diverse Waco community in their book inventory with the “shelf that celebrates brains that are different,” meant for children just like her son and others who feel excluded from reading.

“I want kids to come in and see books [and] say, ‘Hey! That person on the cover looks like me!’” she said. “Reading is for everybody.”

Books Matter: Alan Bond

March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her.  Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project.  To read all the blog posts so far, click here.

By Kate Nelson

Alan Bond, Baylor University’s Student Government External Vice President, explained how the autobiographical Holocaust book, Night by Elie Wiesel, had an impact on his worldview and his perspective on leadership. 

Night describes Wiesel’s experience in the Holocaust, where he was interned in the concentration camp Auschwitz from 1944 to 1945. 

“Seeing it in the perspective of the Jewish man, Elie Wiesel, I was able to see first hand, from a first person point of view, what the people went through, all the hardships. I could just see what people are pushed to and who follows who,” Bond said. 

Bond was not only shocked at the crimes committed during the Holocaust, but also how truly influential a leader can be.

“It shows me a lot about leadership. With Hitler, everything he did for people who followed him is crazy to me. How can someone follow someone like him and do these terrible acts?” Bond asked. 

 Bond also gained understanding about the effect leaders can have over people, despite how bad that leader may be.

“Reading a book like that is shock treatment. It brings you into the harshness of society and the things that can happen to you, and the people around you, and how leaders can influence a great many people, for the better or for the worse,” Bond said.

While Night had a clear impact on Bond and his worldview, he went on to explain why literacy is important in a broader context. 

“Books matter especially in a university setting. You’ll learn about not only the society you are in, the history about yourself, the history about the world, but it’s also more contemplative … you learn a lot more about yourself,” Bond said. 

Bond’s comments on Night show the importance of literacy in developing an understanding of the world, its history and the role people play in it.