For the next few days, Park City residents should all be on the same page. Local librarians and booksellers have been encouraging patrons to participate in the annual One Book One Community program, which wraps up with a special event on Thursday, Aug. 14.
This year’s selection is “Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives” by David Oliver Relin.
According to Dolly’s Bookstore manager Sue Fassett, the book has all the elements of a great page turner plus a special bonus. One of the book’s heroes is a Park City resident.
Fassett explained that, in order to be selected as Park City’s One Book, the tale must be compelling. “It has to have all the elements of a great story, adventure and characters that are larger than life.”
“Second Suns” fits that bill perfectly, she said.
The book details the efforts of Drs. Geoffrey Tabin, of Park City, and Sanduk Ruit of Nepal to offer their sight-saving cataract surgery in remote outposts in the Himalayas and all over the world.
Their story is told in vivid detail by David Oliver Relin, the author of the immensely popular (and controversial) bestseller “Three Cups of Tea.”
Unfortunately, Relin became embroiled in the controversy surrounding the central character in “Thee Cups of Tea,” and took his own life after completing “Second Suns.”
According to Tabin, the news of Relin’s death was heartbreaking. The veteran journalist traveled with Tabin and Ruit for three years, meticulously chronicling their escapades, which included trekking through rugged terrain, setting up surgical tents in remote villages, and then watching patients react to being able to see again after years of blindness.
It was very different from the as-told-to role Relin played in writing the book about
Greg Mortenson who was later accused of fabricating information and misusing funds earmarked for his charity. Tabin believes his disillusionment with Mortenson was a factor in Relin’s suicide.
As a result “Second Suns” was diligently fact-checked by both the author and the publisher.
Tabin recalls that Relin, who was 49 when he died, “was a great guy, very articulate. He wanted to do good for the world through his writing. ‘Three Cups’ was all told to him by Mortenson. In this one he wanted to be part of the story. The controversy hit him very hard.”
Relin’s tender heart is evident in his descriptions of patients waiting in long lines to be seen by the doctors, and their emotional outbursts when the bandages are removed and they see their surroundings and loved ones again.
The book also delves into Tabin’s colorful background as an eccentric medical student and mountain climber who was busy bagging the world’s tallest peaks before tackling his current challenge to cure blindness to cure blindness around the world.
One Book One Community is offered by the Park City and Summit County Libraries and Dolly’s Bookstore. Last year the Park City School District also participated but this year it did not. Summit County Library Director Dan Compton, said he believes the book will resonate with Parkites “because people in this community have a global perspective.” Park City Librarian Jasmina Jusic added, “it is very inspirational. It is about someone who is changing people’s lives literally with a five-minute surgery.”
The program’s culminating event takes place Thursday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building auditorium at Kimball Junction. Tabin will narrate a slideshow with images from his eye-care missions in Nepal, Ethiopia and Bhutan. He said he will also answer any and all questions about the book, mountain climbing, the “Three Cups of Tea” controversy and about the subject most dear to his heart the work being done by his nonprofit, cureblindness.org
“Second Suns” is available at Dolly’s Bookstore and at the Park City and Summit County libraries.
Previous One Book One Community Selections
2003 – “The Bean Trees” by Barbara Kingsolver
2004 – “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer
2005 – “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri
2006 – “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez
2007 – “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen
2008 – “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch
2009 – “Canaries on the Rim” by Chip Ward
2010 – “Mister Pip” by Lloyd Jones
2011 – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
2012 – “Refuge” by Terry Tempest Williams
2013 – “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” by Sherman Alexie
2014 – “Second Suns” by Davis Relin