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Matt Damon in “The Martian.”

GROTON — With the success of past years as inspiration, Groton Public Library is preparing to launch its twelfth annual “Groton Reads” program that this year hopes to capitalize on some Oscar madness.

According to Lauren Sanchez, adult programs coordinator at the library as well as organizer of the Groton Reads program, this year’s book assignment will be Andy Weir’s “The Martian.”

“The Martian is a very popular book with a movie version (now) out,” said Sanchez.

As in the classic 1964 film “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” Weir’s novel follows American astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars in the year 2035 who must use his knowledge of science to survive long enough for a rescue mission to reach him. Unlike the latter half of the earlier film, however, “The Martian” sticks with hard science throughout.

“The community has responded very positively to Groton Reads,” said Sanchez. “Last year, we had an enormous response to the ‘Following Atticus’ book in which the author came for a visit. This year, unfortunately, the author of ‘The Martian’ declined our invitation but we’re hoping to develop a nice community feeling about space exploration, especially among children. Surprisingly, there are many different organizations locally that promote space exploration including one in Groton called One Giant Leap.”

Groton Reads kicks off at the library’s Sibley Hall on Feb. 13, from 2-4 p.m. with plenty of copies of “The Martian” available at the library to take out for those who want to participate.

But with all of the classic science fiction novels that have been published over the last century, why did Groton Reads choose a book published only five years ago as its first science fiction assignment?

“We chose ‘The Martian’ because it’s a popular book with a movie adaptation that came out last year that is up for an Academy Award,” explained Sanchez. “But what’s also interesting is that the book was a self-publishing phenomenon, was picked up by a regular publisher, the Crown Publishing Group, became a best seller, and made the New York Times best seller list for 2014.”

Indeed, according to Sanchez, the self-publishing angle will be a major component in the various activities surrounding this year’s Groton Reads program spotlighted on April 12 with “Successful Self-Publishing” with Jane Karker.

Other events associated with the program to be held over the upcoming months will include:

* The Real Martian: Earth Explores the Red Planet, Tues., March 8, at 7 p.m. Jim Zebrowski from the Aldrich Astronomical Society will talk about the reality of getting to Mars and surviving there plus the secrets of the Red Planet that few people know about.

* Feasting With Potatoes, Tues., March 15, at 7 p.m. with Liz Barbour. Join chef/cooking instructor Liz Barbour and learn why potatoes are a healthy choice and how you can prepare them as a regular part of your family meal just like Martian Mark Watney.

* GPL Book Group discusses “The Martian,” March 29, at 7 p.m. Drop in and join other readers for an informal, lively discussion about the book.

* Movie Night, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. Come to the library that night to see a screening of “The Martian” movie.

To sign up and/or learn more, go to or call 978-448-8000.

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