Perkins Library Welcomes Governor Deval Patrick
Gov. Deval Patrick reads an excerpt from his memoir, A Reason to Believe, at an event hosted by the Perkins Library’s Elder Book Club. More than 150 people packed Dwight Hall to hear the governor.
Members of the Perkins Library’s Elder Book Club got a once-in-a-lifetime experience when Gov. Deval Patrick visited them on January 24 to answer questions about his memoir, A Reason to Believe.
Book club members read the governor’s book last year and were so impressed they sent him a letter and invited him to attend a future meeting. To their surprise, he accepted.
The event was open to the public and drew more than 150 people, including library patrons, Perkins alumni, and Perkins School for the Blind students, teachers and staffers. As he looked around the meeting hall, Patrick joked, “I’ve never seen a book club this big!”
Book club member Elaine Saunders read the letter they sent to the governor. “We were so moved by the book that we wanted to share our collective thoughts,” she said. “Overall, we felt we really got to know you, as a person, not just a politician. We were struck by your sincerity and genuine caring principles.”
“I was so touched by the letter you sent,” Patrick said. “It was extraordinary to feel so connected to the people who read what you write.”
Perkins Secondary School teacher Kate Crohan shakes hands with Gov. Patrick during his visit to Perkins. The governor read an excerpt from his memoir and answered questions about writing.
A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life recounts Patrick’s journey from a poor tenement on Chicago’s South Side to his current position as the state’s first African-American governor.
“Most books by politicians are kiss-and-tells or are laying the groundwork for future campaigns, but this book is neither of those,” Patrick said. Instead, the book pays tribute to all the people in Patrick’s life who taught him lessons in faith, friendship, and perseverance.
“I wrote the book because I am an unrepentant optimist and an idealist,” he said. “And I have come to understand that this is a strength, not a weakness.”
Patrick read an excerpt from the book and answered questions from the audience about writing. “It’s tough,” he said, “especially considering the day job I have.”
That may explain the book’s unpretentious 240-page length. When he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Patrick said the host held up the book and asked: “Will it get bigger when it’s older?”
When one book club member praised him for how well he narrated the book’s audio version, Patrick said with a big smile, “Thank you for that, because I really wanted James Earl Jones.”
Although Patrick answered questions about everything from socializing with the Obamas to his legacy, he deflected specific questions about politics. “I am hoping we will leave a body of work after eight years in office that will make Massachusetts stronger for a long time to come,” he said.
Judi Cannon, a braille services specialist at the Perkins Library, shows Gov. Patrick how to read a braille book. The governor received a braille copy of his memoir, A Reason to Believe, in honor of National Braille Literacy Month.
At the end of the event, Perkins President Steven Rothstein gave the governor a braille copy of A Reason to Believe in honor of National Braille Literacy Month.
The Perkins Library provides services to more than 26,000 people in New England. Books and periodicals are available free of charge for people with visual, physical or reading disabilities. Many titles are also available via digital download. For more information, visit www.PerkinsLibrary.org. The library’s Elder Book Club meets monthly and is open to people 55 years and older with visual impairments.