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Oyster Bay launches summer reading program

A novel program has come to Oyster Bay, inspired by other municipalities and organized by self-described bookworm Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia.

"One Town, One Book: Oyster Bay Reads" is meant to encourage townwide discussion of a book that is read simultaneously by residents, Alesia said, adding the page-turner chosen for the program's inaugural year is F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby."

"It being the first year, I wanted to choose something that was short, that wasn't daunting, that was accessible so high school students, young parents and others could read it and that was local," Alesia said.

Libraries in Oyster Bay will host tie-in events, including discussion groups and movie screenings, as part of the program, town officials said.

"The Great Gatsby," set in Roaring Twenties Long Island, isn't specifically about Oyster Bay, but Supervisor John Venditto at Tuesday's town board meeting said readers "just get an Oyster Bay feeling" about some of the book scenes.

Alesia last week said she hopes "One Town, One Book" will lead to residents spending less time on their smartphones and more time chatting face-to-face about the book.

"You can look at the person next to you and ask them, 'What page are you on?' " she said.

"It's a terrific opportunity to communicate with people around you about something important, about literacy," Alesia said. "It fosters a sense of community."

Participants are asked to read the book in July and attend discussion events at the Hicksville Community Center on Aug. 8 and Aug. 22, town officials said.

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