"We have heard that truth is stranger than fiction," Rutledge told TeleRead in a recent email. "That may be the case, but until you have cracked open a Cli-Fi book or two, you may not have fully imagined the ways that life is altered by climate change."
As part of the 2016 Big Read in the St. Croix Valley in Minnesota, these library clubs have already planned events using a few engaging and provocative book selections to discuss the power of literature to wrestle with the vexing environmental questions of our time, according to Rutledge.
The cli-fi book club discussions will take place in Prescott, Stillwater and St. Croix Falls, she said.
''The programming is all stemming from ArtReach St. Croix's multi-disciplinary and valley-wide partnerships," she said.
The first event will feature an anthology of climate-themed short stories, with a forward by Bill McKibben, titled ''I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet."
The UK-published book contains contributions by Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, T.C. Boyle, Toby Litt, Lydia Millet, David Mitchell, Nathaniel Rich, Kim Stanley Robinson, Helen Simpson, and Wu Ming, Rutledge said, adding: "It's a great way to get a survey of some of the best 'climate fiction' writers of our time."
The second novel the Minnesota cli-fi book clubs will tackle in their monthly group discussions in March is "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver.
''In 'Flight Behavior,' Kingsolver traces the unforeseen impact of global climate change on the ordinary citizens of one rural community," Rutledge said.
When I asked how the book club idea took shape, Rutledge told me that she first heard about the cli-fi genre term from Irene Faass, a friend who teaches eco-feminist and other literature at Minneapolis Community Technical College.
Rutlege has organized the first few meetings of the cli-fi book clubs, which will host meetings at libraries in Stillwater, St. Croix Falls and Prescott. There are three books planned so far, and after that, Rutledge said, continued meetings depend on the interests of the attendees.
"Club members will be able to select their own book for a fourth meeting, and clubs may continue to meet and select cli-fi titles to read for as long as they like," she said.
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