Reading and walking at the same time aren’t often a good idea – just ask the folks walking and texting in the “No Cellphones” lane on a DC sidewalk – but at the Mill Valley Public Library, the two make for the perfect combination for the Library’s 2014 Adult Reading Challenge: Steps, Lanes, and Paths. Inspired by Mill Valley’s extensive network of over 175 heritage paths dating back to the 1880s, the Library is serving up a literary expedition that encourages readers to explore new literary landscapes while becoming actively acquainted with the city that many call home.

The Adult Reading Challenge centers around a “reading map” featuring the steps, lanes, and paths of Mill Valley. The 133 steps, lanes, and paths featured on the reading map correspond to a particular reading challenge category relating to peoples, places, genres and much, much more. Participants are challenged to read one book for each path by the challenge’s end on December 31, 2014. As participants undertake the literary challenge, they are also encouraged (but not required) to explore Mill Valley and celebrate its perambulatory heritage by walking the corresponding steps, lanes, and paths on the reading map.

“It’s been a personal goal of mine to walk every step, lane, and path in Mill Valley,” said Ali Birnbach, reference librarian and organizer of the reading challenge. “I know how enjoyable and unexpectedly refreshing it can be to explore the city through its back roads, and a reading challenge seemed like the perfect way to share the experience. A good reading challenge gives participants a general guide and lets them decide how they want to approach it. This year’s theme lets you literally choose your own path(s).”
The breadth of categories in this year’s challenge is extensive, from “Voyages of Discovery and Adventure” and “International Female Authors” to “How Can I Help You? The Service Industry” and “An Event or Experience Your Parents Lived Through,” among many others. Categories serve as inspirational starting points and are open to readers’ personal interpretation, meaning that readers are sure to find books to spark their interest. If that wasn’t motivation enough, over the duration of the challenge participants will have chances to win fantastic prizes, including an iPad Mini. For each book read, participants will earn one raffle ticket. The more books read, the more raffle tickets earned, and the more chances to win.

The Adult Reading Challenge is open now. Adults ages 18 and older are invited to register online through the Library’s website. Registrants should then stop by the Library Reference Desk to pick up a reading map. If participants are looking for reading suggestions, librarians at the Mill Valley Library can offer book recommendations. The Library’s website also features a wide array of book lists. 

“We announced our reading challenge last Monday and we currently have nearly 100 participants,” said Birnbach. “It’s a great start to what we hope will be one of our best reading challenges yet!”

In addition to the Adult Reading Challenge, the Mill Valley Public Library offers separate summer reading programs for kids, middle schoolers, and young adults. Visit the Library’s website for more information about any of these programs. 

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