The Museum of the Mississippi Delta announces the creation of the Topophilia Book Club, whose purpose is to connect readers to this region through a thoughtfully curated selection of books with a connection to this land. Six books have been chosen for the upcoming year and the discussions will be led by local physician, author, and historian, Dr. Mary Carol Miller.
The book club will meet bi-monthly to discuss fiction and non-fiction books connected to the Mississippi Delta. In addition to book discussions, other programs related to the book selections will be hosted by the Museum. The books are selected in advance and planned for the entire year, often coordinating with the Museum’s exhibition schedule. A list of the 2021-2022 selections is attached.
The idea for the new book club arose through the recent programming for the Smithsonian Institute’s “Crossroads” exhibition hosted by the Museum this past summer. The Museum hosted a number of literary programs in connection with the exhibition that were very well-attended. During one program led by Dr. Miller she shared the term “topophilia,” a word invented by Geographer Yi-Fu Tuan from the University of Wisconsin to describe the “affective bond with one’s environment—a person’s mental, emotional, and cognitive ties to a place.” “Because of Mississippi’s rich literary heritage, it made sense to continue exploring this region through the written word,” said Katie Mills, the Museum’s Executive Director. “When deciding on a name for the new book club, I immediately thought of the word Dr. Miller shared with us,” added Mills.
“Living in the Mississippi Delta, we are surrounded from birth by storytellers, some published, most not, but all capable of spinning words to capture the essence and eccentricities of this far-flung corner of America. If we did nothing but shed our day-to-day obligations and start reading the vast library of the Delta today, pausing only to pick up the latest works from a long line of celebrated authors, we could never catch up,” said Dr. Miller, “So let’s choose just a few, dive into the pages and then come together to share thoughts and opinions and our own Delta topophilia!”
Those wishing to participate should procure their own copy of the book. The Museum will have a limited number available for purchase and encourages you to visit your local, independent bookseller to purchase your copy. The first selection is Providence by Will Campbell. Dr. Miller will lead discussions on December 8, 2021, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and again on November 9, 2021, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Community Room at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta.
Support for Topophilia Book Club has been provided by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council.