Category Archives: In the News

Book Club Addresses Cultural Differences

Written by Madalyn Alfonso
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

A town-wide book club full of members of a variety of ages, backgrounds and ideologies may seem like a big idea, but with One Book One New Paltz, that idea comes to life every year.

As a diverse crowd shuffled into Lecture Center 100 on Monday, Oct. 2, author Imbolo Mbue, a native of Limbe, Cameroon and current New York City resident, prepared to speak about her debut novel, Behold the Dreamers in the first event of One Book One New Paltz (OBONP) this year. Faculty, students and fans of the novel settled in to hear Mbue read an excerpt and talk about her process.

“Mbue is a very honest writer,” said sophomore psychology major Ashley Rodriguez. “She spoke so openly about her personal life. I found the event very interesting and made a lot of connections with her personal life to mine.”

Behold the Dreamers is about an immigrant family from Cameroon trying to get by in America by working for a rich, white family in New York City. The book explores the ideas of class, race, immigration, family and the disillusionment of the American Dream.

Charlene V. Martoni, committee member of OBONP and the conversation moderator began the evening by introducing Mbue and her book, explaining the praise it has received in recent news publications, such as being chosen for Oprah’s book club, and then giving Mbue the floor to kickstart the four-day long series of programs.

“I was driven by inspiration,” Mbue said. “I was very observant of the class differences in New York City, and I did a lot of research. This book is a love song to many places for me; Cameroon, America, Harlem, and writing this book was a way of going home.”

One Book One New Paltz is a project that began in 2005 and was founded by Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, to promote reading as a way of connecting people in the College and neighborhood. Every year, the committee chooses a book that becomes the “community read,” which is meant to encourage people of all backgrounds to participate in and celebrate their community by having a shared reading experience.

Behold the Dreamers was chosen because it fits the criteria the committee uses in their selection process. The chosen book needs to incorporate many different issues that can open a conversation that is accessible to various groups of people. Mbue’s goal for the book was to focus on empathy and challenge people to think of their world differently and consider other perspectives.

“Everyone deserves empathy, even if we disagree,” Mbue said. “It was hard for me to empathize with rich white people for this book, but I needed to develop empathy for these characters, even if I didn’t understand the struggle of the one percent. I wanted to connect two drastically different worlds.”

Martoni interviewed Mbue and audience members were also invited to participate in the Q&A. Mbue spoke on her inspirations, her struggles in immigration and understanding America and where she hopes to head next from here.

“I dreamt that America was full of rich people and that everyone had a wonderful life. Coming to America I realized how rough it actually is.” she said. “While America is a wonderful country, it has many issues and flaws, and it is not wonderful for everyone.”

The final event of One Book One New Paltz 2017 will take place on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Elting Memorial Library in the Village of New Paltz, with the book discussion and wrap-up. Behold the Dreamers can be purchased as a paperback in local book stores Barner Books and Inquiring Minds Bookstore for $14.50.




Meet Our 2016 NYLA-Dewey Award Winner

Written by Daphne Jorgensen
Published in the UAlbany College of Engineering and Applied Sciences newsfeed

University at Albany’s 2016 NYLA-Dewey Scholarship Award winner, Charlene Martoni, is no stranger to winning… and giving back to others.

Information Science student Charlene Martoni has been selected as a recipient of the NYLA-Dewey Scholarship. This award of $1,000 is sponsored by the Lake Placid Educational Foundation and the New York Library Association. It is awarded each year to students pursuing a master’s degree in a program in New York State that is accredited by the American Library Association. Successful candidates are selected based on evidence of strong scholarship, leadership, and a commitment to work in a library or library system in New York State for at least two years after graduation. References writing in support of Ms. Martoni’s application for the award praised her leadership and supervisory skills, one calling her “a bright, talented and motivated leader in her field.” Continue reading

New Paltz communally reads $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

Written by Frances Marion Platt
Published in the New Paltz Times

(Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Photo by Lauren Thomas. Committee members from left to right: Darlene Davis, Sue Books, Charlene V. Martoni, Myra Sorin, Shelly Sherman, and Linda Welles.

One Book/One New Paltz, the annual joint community reading and discussion experience, returns to town with a week’s worth of activities from November 13 to 20. But this year it’s going to be a little different: Instead of the usual novel, the book selected by the One Book/One New Paltz Committee is a sobering non-fictional account of the lives of people living in extreme poverty. The 2016 Community Read is titled $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). Continue reading

Orange Is The New Paltz: Miss Rosa Visits New Paltz

Written by Amanda Copkov
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

Having made her great escape from Litchfield Penitentiary, Miss Rosa of “Orange Is the New Black” made a pitstop at SUNY New Paltz.

Actress Barbara Rosenblat, referred to as “the Meryl Streep of audiobooks,” plays the role of Miss Rosa in the critically acclaimed, top-rated Netflix series and came to the College as part of the One Book/One New Paltz (OB/ONP) program. The goals of this program are to foster community, encourage reading and support literacy by making one read accessible to everyone in the community, according to OB/ONP Committee Chair and Webmaster Charlene Martoni. Continue reading

One Book/One New Paltz initiative takes on the prison system with this year’s community read “Orange is the New Black”

Written by Sharyn Flanagan
Published in the New Paltz Times

Pictured are some of the members of the One Book/One New Paltz Committee (L-R): Linda Welles, Abby Chance, Darlene Davis, Charlene Martoni, Shelley Sherman, John Giralico, Sue Books and Myra Sorin. This year's book is “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Book clubs are a great way for people to get together to talk about ideas. But usually the clubs are made up of people who are already friends, or at least already know one another, and therefore probably have somewhat similar backgrounds. But what if a book club could encompass an entire community; a diverse range of people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and economic levels who could stimulate each other’s ideas through the common ground of a shared reading experience?

Continue reading

Guiding Out of the Darkness

Written by John Tappen
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

Photo from oracle.newpaltz.eduCharlene Martoni’s best friend lost  someone to suicide.

“I saw how one person’s suicide can have an affect on others — a ripple effect,” Martoni said.

For three years, Martoni, a fifth-year journalism and education major, has been the chairperson for the SUNY New Paltz Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention.

Martoni said the walk is an event where people can feel safe speaking about suicide — a subject that continues to be stigmatized. Continue reading

A Light out of the Darkness

Written by Katie Kocijanski
Published in the New Paltz Oracle

Photo from oracle.newpaltz.eduThe overall goal of the Out of the Darkness campus walk held last Saturday, May 1 was to bring suicide out of the Darkness and into the light. The money raised will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Continue reading