Kathee Kenna was in her mid-30s and beginning to make a home of her own in La Cañada the first time she read the best-selling 1978 novel, “A Woman of Independent Means,” by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey.

Kenna was taken by the book which chronicled, through letters, the arc of Bess Steed Garner's wealthy lifestyle in Texas in the early 20th century through the 1960s. Reading it now, decades later, the tale took on a new tone.

“The second time I read it, I saw her as shallow and self-centered and petty,” she admitted. “That did not come through to me years ago when I read it, when I was young and starting out in life.”

The mysterious way literature reaches people on different levels over time is sure to be up for discussion Sunday as the city hosts its 10th Annual One City One Book reading and discussion of “A Woman of Independent Means.” Complete with an author interview, Q&A and book signing by the author, the free event takes place 2:30 p.m. at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, 4469 Chevy Chase Drive.

Participants will also enjoy a theatrical rendition of “A Woman of Independent Means” from Lissa Layng Reynolds, of South Pasadena's Fremont Centre Theatre, performing part of her one-woman show based on the book.

The event is sure to draw a crowd, if inventory at the library and local bookstores is an indicator of success.

As of Tuesday, the library had just one large-print copy of the book left on its shelves, having sold all 30 copies it had made available for purchase, La Cañada Flintridge Library manager Mark Totten reported. Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse had one copy in stock, while La Cañada Books & Toys still had 11 copies remaining.

Two main aims of community reading programs like One City One Book, which exist throughout the nation, are to encourage communities to come together and to foster literacy. In La Cañada, however, those goals are hardly lofty.

“Everybody here seems to know the value of reading,” said Totten, citing a 10% increase in book circulation over last year. “We don't have to go out and encourage people to read — they're already reading.”

Kenna, publicity chair of the One City One Book Committee, said the event is a great way for locals to share a reading experience together but also encouraged people who haven't read “A Woman of Independent Means” to attend.

“Come be a part of the community,” she invited.

-- Sara Cardine, s_cardine09@yahoo.com

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