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Book ideas for the Berkshires—Because reading is fun!

I imagine a pop-up book about the Berkshires would do incredibly well. I also have to think paper engineer Bruce Foster might relish the chance to visit the paper-making past and present right in our own backyard.

You might say my book idea for the Berkshires just popped up—and you’d be right. First, I’ve been mind mapping my own book, which is currently underway. Second, as both the Lenox Library knows and the Stockbridge Library understands, I’m currently obsessed with a specific out-of-print book set in the Berkshires. Not to worry, dear reader, I plan a big reveal right here in the coming weeks, complete with archival photographs.

What I love about summer reading is how it all gives off that whole “one book, one community” vibe, where a library or other entity selects a book that everyone reads. My first experience of a city-wide reading program harkens back to 2010, when Boston chose “Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919,” a gem by Stephen Puleo. Stranger than fiction, the entire saga.

Cover of Stephen Puleo’s “Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.” Cover courtesy of Beacon Press.

Last weekend, I perused several new titles at The Bookstore in Lenox. So many great new biographies, memoirs, and novels, I didn’t even know where to begin. No matter. Over Saturday morning yogurt parfaits at a friend’s Pittsfield penthouse, I accepted the recommendation of “SILENCE: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of Our Lives,” by award winning author Jane Brox.

Cover of Jane Brox’s “SILENCE: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of Our Lives.” Cover courtesy of Mariner Books.

And yet, I did not expect the lingering effect of a book I’d picked up at a coffee house the weekend before. If ever a book idea for the Berkshires had come to me, I could not pinpoint it. Now I cannot dislodge the thought.

Let me begin by saying I only recently learned about the 2011-2012 exhibit of pop-up books at the Norman Rockwell Museum. So it was rather surprising to learn no serious pop-up book dedicated exclusively to the Berkshires exists, at least not now.

When I stopped in for tea at an adorable coffee shop in Historic Stonington Borough in Connecticut earlier this month, there it was: a movable feast and a magical journey, not to mention a marketing triumph and a philanthropic success. Seriously, judge this book by its cover:

The cover of “The Pop-Up Book of Stonington.”

More importantly, take a peek inside this work of art and pride of place. First of all, pop-up books aren’t just beloved by children. Second, any book requiring a “paper engineer” already grabs my attention. And third, the way in which Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce championed the entire project is remarkable.

In conclusion, I imagine a similar pop-up book about the Berkshires would do incredibly well. I also have to think paper engineer Bruce Foster might relish the chance to visit the paper-making past and present right in our own backyard.

The only question is: What Berkshire people, places, and things would a local pop-up book project include? I can see the Stockbridge Bowl and Mount Greylock for starters. I can also see Seiji Ozawa Hall and the outdoor stage at Jacob’s Pillow unfolding in all their pop-up splendor. And of course the homes connected to W. E. B. Du Bois, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Freeman, and Herman Melville would all have to make an appearance.z

Last but not least, the area’s many tennis courts, ski slopes, and theatrical stages would round out my personal list, with room for a Gilded Age Berkshire Cottage centerfold.

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