Baldacci Promoting Literacy in Manatee



Author David Baldacci for decades thrilled lovers of political intrigue, but he wanted to make sure the next generation of readers can tackle the increasingly difficult task of telling truth from fiction. “It’s impossible to be a full participant in democracy if you can’t read,” Baldacci tells SRQ. “How are you participating?  Not being able to read actually takes away facets of your freedom.”

Baldacci will speak Tuesday evening as part of a fundraiser in support of the Manatee Library System’s “I am a Lifelong Learner” program encouraging literacy among young readers. The Virginia-based writer, who owns a winter home in Northwest Florida, says he directs much of his philanthropic effort toward helping libraries and boosting literacy not just so people keep buying books but so that society has the tools to stay informed.

The writer of such political classics as Absolute Power will discuss the creative process, including the ups and downs of conceiving fake scandals in an age of Washington uproar. He recalls how even though he wrote his first novel, about a president using his power to cover up a personal sex scandal, came out before the Bill Clinton impeachment in the late 1990s but he still would get accused of exploiting the event in his book.

In the age of Donald Trump, there’s suddenly fresh controversy to mine daily, but in a way that’s stifling. “I think of an outrageous plot I can put in a book, but the next day The Washington Post has reported on it,” he says. “But the flip side is I feel liberated to write about anything. After the last year or so, readers will accept anything as being possible.”

He does hope future readers can tell the incredible from the un-credible. “I’m thinking about the 2016 election where people were bombarded with bots and Russian trolling, and all the misinformation and disinformation on the internet,” he says. “People without strong reading skills and strong comprehension skills can easily be duped into believing things they read that are not true.”

He wants a more functioning literacy, one that includes spotting solid sourcing. If that happens, then voters can be educated properly in their electoral decisions regardless of what they ultimately decide. “If you can’t read it’s almost impossible for you to come up with your own opinions and to synthesize and process information,” he says. “If you don’t reach your own opinions, other people out there are glad to tell you what you should be thinking.”

Tickets for An Evening With David Baldacci cost $100 for reserved seating and $75 for unreserved. Teachers and literacy educators can get a deep discount. Tickets can be purchased from The Library Foundation.  The event takes place Tuesday evening from 7-8pm at the Neel Performing Arts Center at State College of Florida.

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