Another View: A reading adventure worth sharing

By: Jenifer Gee,
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Calendar of events for One Book, One Community

One Book, One Community is a project that encourages everyone to read the same book and then participate in discussions and events about it. The following is a listing of upcoming events for Auburn’s inaugural One Book, One Community:

April 18 – Janet Kovacich murder cold case panel moderated by radio and TV personality Beth Ruyak, 7-9 p.m., Placer High School auditorium

April 20 – Canyon tour with Mike Lynch of state parks and Jordan Fisher Smith, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Register at placerone bookonecommunity@

April 23 – An evening with the author: book signing and presentation, 7-9 p.m., Placer High School auditorium

April 25 – Screening of “Under Our Skin,” a film about Lyme disease, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Nobili Room, Placer County Office of Education Annex building

For more information: Log on to Facebook at
or email placeronebookonecommunity@

Not too long ago, I found myself in the middle of the American River Canyon, right beside a ranger responding to a call of a missing runner out on the trails that would not end well.

I was also alongside the same ranger when he went to investigate a crime case involving gold miners out in the far reaches of the foothills.

I was immersed in these tense situations and more while reading “Nature Noir,” a book written by Jordan Fisher Smith. In “Nature Noir,” Smith shares his experiences as a park ranger for 14 years in the American River Canyon. His tenure as a ranger was at a time when it was all but certain the Auburn dam would be built and Smith and other rangers were protecting lands that many assumed would be underwater in a matter of years.

Smith’s book is the centerpiece of Auburn’s first-ever One Book, One Community project that is taking place now. The project encourages everyone to read the same book and then participate in discussions and events about it. It has been required reading in some local high school classes.

Events surrounding the book start this month and are centered around the book’s setting and its “characters,” which are based on real-life people from the area.

I hope those who enjoy reading and even those who don’t will pick up a copy and attend one, or all, of the special events surrounding it. It’s a great read especially because it’s about real-life stories that happened in our backyard. It’s also a great way to connect and discuss with fellow Auburn-area residents.

I experienced this connection on a small scale last month when I returned a copy of “Nature Noir” back to the Auburn branch of the Placer County Library (which has plenty of copies). It was the second time I had checked out the book and admittedly I was three days late in returning it.

I went inside to pay my 75-cent fine and the woman taking the return asked if I liked the book. I said I did, especially because it was based on a local place and local people. I then asked if she was reading the book and she said she had just started it.

I look forward to making more of these connections at upcoming activities scheduled this month.

There’s still time to read the book and even if you haven’t, the events are worth taking part in.

Activities include a panel discussion on the Janet Kovacich murder trial that was tried in Placer County 30 years after the Auburn wife and mother disappeared. The search for her body is among the chapters of the book. The panel, hosted by radio and TV personality Beth Ruyak, will include those who worked closely on the case during its investigation and prosecution.

There is also a canyon tour scheduled that visits sites and scenes included in the book. It  will be led by the author and Mike Lynch, who is both the current superintendent for the Auburn State Recreation Area and is the basis for one of the main characters in “Nature Noir.”

Later in the month, there will be an evening with the author, which will include a book signing and other entertainment.
In addition to those activities, there will be a screening of “Under Our Skin,” which is a film about Lyme disease and one in which Smith – who contracted the often misdiagnosed illness – plays a role.

What I love most about the book and its corresponding events is it gives you a chance to get to know the canyon land and its inhabitants that surround Auburn a little better and to see it through someone else’s eyes – and not just anyone’s eyes. It’s through the eyes of someone who experienced many exciting adventures, encountered a colorful cast of characters and shared poignant moments with some of the people he came into contact with.
I’m looking forward to sharing the book with others around town.