Time For Hartford To Pick Next Shared Reading Assignment
April 22, 2010
It's that time again. Time to pick the One Book for Greater Hartford.
When I was on the selection committee last year, we chose "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz.
It was a huge success. In fact, Hartford Public Library's chief executive director, Matt Poland, said it was the library's most successful One Book program since its start nine years ago.
No doubt because it was a great book. But mostly because the community really owned the whole process that culminated in hundreds of people waiting more than an hour to get their book signed by Diaz at the library.
Awesome, but I bet we can make this year's One Book program even more successful.
To refresh your memory, the One Book literary program is about engaging the community in the shared experience of reading one book by a living author. A citywide book club, if you will.
As a returning selection committee member, my assignment is to read all four books in contention before the committee meets in June to pick this year's One Book.
But just like last year, I want your help. Read the books, and let me know what you think. Vote at courant.com/onebook for your top pick.
Our choices this year are:
•"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," by Mark Haddon. This book deals with a topic that's getting a lot of much-needed attention lately: autism. It's described as a murder mystery told by an autistic 15-year-old whose parents are struggling to cope with their child's condition.
•"People of the Book," by Geraldine Brooks sounds meaty. Written by a foreign correspondent-turned-novelist, it tells the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a rare, illuminated 14th-century book used during Passover Seders that disappeared from the city's library during the second Balkan War.
•"Anna In-Between," by Elizabeth Nunez hits many of the same immigration and cultural themes from last year's book. But in this one, a New York City book editor struggles to convince her mother, who lives in the Caribbean and has advanced breast cancer, to seek treatment in the States despite her belief that as a black woman she'll receive second-rate care.
•"Outcasts United," by Warren St. John is about a topic close to my heart: underdogs fighting the odds. It's a true story about the Fugees, a soccer program for boys from families of refugees from war-torn Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, who have been resettled in a small town just outside Atlanta.
One Book culminates in the winning author's visit to Hartford in late October. But through the summer, there'll be numerous events where readers can share reactions to the text and discuss the issues the books explore.
No guarantee that the book you choose is going to be the selection committee's top pick come June, but the more feedback we have, the better.
So vote — and tell me which book you think should be The One.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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