TOWNSEND -- This February, the Townsend Public Library is encouraging residents to curl up with a good book -- "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern.
The book is the library's selection for its third annual "One Book, One Town" program, which asks all readers in town to read the same book in order to foster conversation and a sense of community.
In addition to purchasing more than 40 copies of the book for residents to check out, the library is sponsoring a series of book-related events and discussions throughout February to enhance patrons' reading experience. The program is funded through the Townsend Public Library Endowment.
"The library's role has changed over the years. It's turning more into a community center and a place people go to spend time," said Library Director Stacy Schuttler. "A program like this combines all of those things. It gives them something that we know is a pretty good read and gets them to try something outside of their comfort zone, as well as some of our programs."
This year's programs include a tarot card reading event on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., an introduction to baton twirling on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. and a book discussion on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
All events are related to the book's plot, which tells the story of a pair of dueling young musicians at a circus.
"People can pick and choose what they want to do, and can do as much or as little as they like," Schuttler said.
Groton is the only other library in the region that offers a similar program, called "Groton Reads," Schuttler said.
Inspiration from that program, combined with an idea from Library Trustee Pat Jeanig, helped bring "One Book, One Town" to fruition.
The program began with "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, which Schuttler said provided a kick-start to the program due to the popularity of the book and movie adaptation.
That month, more than 340 people checked out the book.
Last year, the chosen book was "Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" by Matthew Dicks, who came to the library to present to program participants. Those events were well-attended, with about 40 people each at two talks, Schuttler said.
"The first year was a little bit tougher because we had to introduce the program, but people knew 'The Hunger Games' because of the movie," Schuttler said. "Last year was easier. People know what it is now."
The books are chosen to be appropriate for both adults and children as young as seventh grade, in order to include as many people as possible in the program.
"It did seem like it was for all ages and had a wide appeal," Schuttler said of the decision to choose "The Night Circus."
By Feb. 11, all but 12 copies of the novel had been checked out of the library.
Follow Chelsea Feinstein on Twitter and Tout @CEFeinstein.