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Community Reads offer more than just a book discussion

TMatt Damon in a scene from the film "The Martian." Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox via AP

ON MARTIANS AND IDENTITY Community Reads programs, such as those taking place next month in Arlington and Concord, have been rapidly growing in popularity over the past few years. Think of them as the new generation of book clubs — instead of an intimate group of friends or neighbors gathering to discuss a book, the entire town is invited to join in.

And it’s not only about reading anymore. Identifying a text — usually through a community-wide democratic process — is only the beginning.

For example, Concord has chosen “The Martian” by Andy Weir as its community-wide reading selection in March. Events related to the Martian theme include a photo exhibit by Dan Barstow, director at Maynard’s Virtual High School, who has worked on the development of software that helps astronauts on the International Space Station take photographs of Earth; a talk by Jim J. Zebrowski of the Aldrich Astronomical Society Inc. about the reality of getting to and surviving on Mars and our ever-increasing knowledge of it, thanks to satellites, probes, and unmanned rovers; an evening with space suit designer Nikolay Moiseev of Final Frontier Design, a design firm that crafts aerospace safety garments for the future of space travel; and several programs related to martians and space travel for children.

Meanwhile, townspeople in Arlington have chosen a literary theme far from the red sands of Mars. Their book for March is “Americanah” by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award-winning volume that explores race, identity, and immigration. Related programming in Arlington includes a viewing of the documentary “Good Hair,” a musical performance by Offiong Bassey, TED talks, and a panel discussion on identity.


For a complete schedule of Concord’s community reading events related to “The Martian,” go to www.concordlibrary.org. To find out more about the offerings in Arlington, go to robbinslibrary.wordpress.com/arlington-reads-together-2016 .


COLOR OF WATER “By Land and by Sea,” an exhibition of watercolors and drawings by Maynard artist Joyce McJilton Dwyer, is on display through March 26 at 6 Bridges Gallery, 77 Main St., Maynard, with an artist’s reception on Saturday, March 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. Dwyer teaches watercolor painting for Acton-Boxborough Community Education, Acton Council on Aging and Carlisle Recreation Department. She also teaches private lessons in her studio at ArtSpace in Maynard. For hours or more information, call 978-897-3825 or go to www.6bridgesgallery.com.

Stay Well, Singers! The Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus hosts a presentation for vocalists on proper care and maintenance of their voices by Dr. Thomas Carroll, an otolaryngologist and the director of the Brigham and Women’s Voice Program. Titled “Take Care of Your Voice!,” the presentation takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29, at First Parish Church, 349 Boston Post Road, Weston. Admission is free. For more information, go to www.saengerfest.org.

WOMEN’S QUEST Join local historian and University of New Hampshire history professor Ellen Fitzpatrick for a discussion about her timely new book, “The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency,” on Thursday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Stellina Restaurant, 47 Main St., Watertown. “The Highest Glass Ceiling” tells the stories of three women who set their sights on the American presidency: Victoria Woodhull (1872), Margaret Chase Smith (1964), and Shirley Chisholm (1972), providing the far-reaching historical context for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Admission is free; a full menu and bar will be available after the talk. Reservations are recommended.


Lenten Songs On Sunday, March 6, at 5 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, Concordia Consort presents music from its Lenten program, “Teares of a Sorrowful Soule,” which pairs chorales and psalms with powerful instrumental pieces by Byrd, Bach, Hassler, Pedersen, Scarlatti, Buxtehude and Pachelbel. Following Concordia Consort’s performance, Trinity’s Parish Choir will sing Choral Evensong with “responses” by Wesley and Luther and the “Magnificat” & “Nunc dimittis” canticles set by Thomas Weelkes. The choir will also sing William Mundy’s anthem “O Lord, maker of all things.” Admission is free. The church is at 81 Elm St., Concord. For more information, call 978-369-3715 or go to www.trinityconcord.org.

FLOWERING ARTISTS Needham’s Art in Bloom, now in its eighth year, will be on display at the Needham Free Public Library on Saturday, March 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, March 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sponsored by Roche Bros., the event is free to the public. Art in Bloom presents art by Needham High School sophomores through seniors, working in a variety of mediums, including oil paints, clay sculpture, graphic design and charcoal sketches, along with floral interpretations of each piece created by members of the Beth Shalom Garden Club. The library is at 1139 Highland Ave., Needham Heights. For more information, go to www.NeedhamArtinbloom.com.

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