One Book, One Community steps into the past with Jess Walter’s novel ‘The Cold Millions’ |

One Book, One Community steps into the past with Jess Walter’s novel ‘The Cold Millions’

Tie-in events include lectures, book-signings and a film screening

One Book, One Community Presentation by Dalton Gackle

Park City Film screening of Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer’s ‘The Wobblies,’ not rated

‘The Cold Millions’ Author Jess Walter

Author Jess Walter will speak on Aug. 25 about his novel, “The Cold Millions.” The book is this year’s One Book, One Community read.
Photo by Rajah Bose

Although Jess Walter’s historical novel “The Cold Millions” is set in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, it has a Park City connection through the Wobblies, a labor-rights organization.

That’s why Summit County Library Director Daniel Compton and Park City Library Adult Services Librarian Kate Mapp selected the book for this year’s One Book, One Community read.

“The Wobblies had fought for workers’ rights on behalf of the miners in this area,” Compton said. “So I thought it would be fun to learn about the Wobblies and learn about our own history.”

Park City has been a labor union town from the get-go, and some local workers still rely on unions today, Mapp said.

I think we just enjoy reading about things that have happened in the past, because Park City has such an interesting history…” Daniel Compton, Summit County Library director

“We have unions for the ski patrol, teachers and the Park City Fire District, to name a few, and I don’t think a lot of people may recognize that,” she said. “Once people start looking at our history, they will see a lot of commonalities and connections Park City has with Jess Walter’s book. We take a lot of stuff from the labor movement of the early 1900s for granted, but there are people still fighting for rights today. So issues are still relevant for our times.”

“The Cold Millions” can currently be checked out at the Summit County and Park City libraries, and library card-holders can access the ebook and audible through the Libby app.

Compton encourages people to read the book before Aug. 25, when Walter visits Park City togive a presentation and book signing at 7:30 p.m. in the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.

Dolly’s Bookstore will have copies of the book for sale if anyone wants to get an autograph, said Compton, who is looking forward to meeting Walter, a New York Times Best-Selling Author, in person.

“When we select a book, there is no guarantee that we can get the author to come, but we reached out to Jess’ through his agent, and he was interested in the program from the get-go,” Compton said. “He is also very supportive of libraries, and that sealed the deal.”

Walter’s appearance marks the first in-person author visit since the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. “We did virtual events in 2020 with Pam Houston and 2021 with Ross Gay, and those were great, but it does mean so much to us to be able to do things in person this year,” Compton said.

The timing of selecting “The Cold Millions” also opened opportunities to partner with the Park City Museum and Park City Film in additional community programming, Compton said.

The first event will be a free lecture by Dalton Gackle, research, digital services and social media coordinator at the Park City Museum.

Gackle, who just published his own book, “Images of America: Park City,” which covers the history of Park City’s mining days, labor struggles and general life, will give his presentation at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 W. Ute Blvd. 

Park City Film will host a free screening of Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer’s 1979 documentary, “The Wobblies,” not rated, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.

“It’s interesting because ‘The Wobblies’ was just released on DVD a couple of months ago,” Compton said. 

The One Book, One Community program started in 2003 to bring the community together, according to Compton.

“I’ve been involved since 2008, and it’s one of my favorite programs we offer through the libraries,” he said. “To have a program successfully run that long is a big deal. It means the community does enjoy participating in it. I also think it’s cool when we all read the same book and have discussions about it.”

Compton feels Summit County and Park City readers enjoy historical-fiction novels like Walter’s book because of the success of past One Book, One Community programs.

In 2016, the community read Christina Baker Kline’s “Orphan Train,” which told tales of Depression-era orphans on the East Coast. A year after that, the read was Ruta Septety’s Carnegie Medal-winning young adult novel, “Salt to the Sea,” about four people and the sinking of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II, he said.

“I think we just enjoy reading about things that have happened in the past, because Park City has such an interesting history,” he said.

Jess Walter’s “The Cold Millions,” which is about the Wobblies, the historic labor-rights organization, is this year’s One Book, One Community read.
Courtesy of Katy Sewall

While One Book, One Community connects local residents, it also brings the libraries together.

“Having Summit County Library being so close to us, it feels great to do things that focus on  programming for adults together,” she said. “It makes us feel like a more close-knit community, and it recognizes how we are all together living in one community. Plus, it gives us a chance to pool our resources to bring big-name authors to the community.” 

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