Fauquier Community Read

Due to current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, this community event – including author Steven Johnson’s April 29 visit – has been postponed until Spring 2021.  

Welcome to Fauquier Community Read 2020

Fauquier Public Library proudly presents Fauquier Community Read. Community Reads across the country engage and enlighten citizens, foster a sense of community and create a culture of community-wide reading.

This year the library proudly presents How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson.  By encouraging residents to read the extraordinary stories behind the ideas that make modern life possible, the committee hopes to spark a discussion that considers the future by exploring the past. 

There are many different ways to participate. Read the book, join a book discussion or come listen to author Steven Johnson.  Watch the PBS Series on DVD or explore the children’s version of the book. Do all the activities or do just one. We hope that whichever you choose, you’ll be inspired to have a conversation with your neighbor, friend, family member or coworker about How We Got to Now.

Fauquier Community Read is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Fauquier Library, Fauquier Library Board of Trustees, the Nicolaas and Patricia Kortlandt Fund at the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation and our community partners.

Join us for the Fauquier Community Read finale! New Date TBD

Steven Johnson, bestselling author of 12 books, host and co-creator of the PBS/BBC series “How We Got to Now” and host of the podcast American Innovations, will speak, followed by Q&A and book signing. Copies of How We Got to Now will be available for sale from The Open Book.

About the Book

Book Cover: How We Got to Now
In How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation, tracing facets of modern life from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

How We Got to Now was a New York Times bestselling book and finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. It inspired the Emmy-nominated PBS series “How We Got to Now,” which Johnson co-created and hosts.

Johnson is the bestselling author of 12 books and host of the podcast American Innovations.


Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How does Steven Johnson’s discussion of six innovations that made the modern world differ from what you learned in school?  Did it give you a fresh perspective?
  2. Which of the six innovations discussed most interested you?  What was your reaction to how much has changed because of these innovations in the last 200 years?
  3. Can you identify some modern innovations that may impact your life in the future? Can you anticipate some of these impacts?
  4. How do we encourage innovation?  What factors may limit, delay or even stop innovation?
  5. Johnson stresses that “we need a value system to decide which strains of innovation to encourage and which benefits aren’t worth the tangential costs.”
  6. How can we evaluate the opportunities that innovation places before us?

Additional How We Got to Now Discussion Questions are available here.
Printable version of How We Got to Now Discussion Questions.