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One Book – One Lincoln is a community reading project co-sponsored by Lincoln City Libraries. The program encourages all adults in Lincoln and Lancaster County to read and discuss the same book at the same time. The goal of the program is to encourage reading and dialogue by creating a community-wide reading and discussion experience.
The idea of city-wide reading programs started in Seattle in 1998 with the program “If All Seattle Read the Same Book” initiated by the Washington Center for the Book, located at the Seattle Public Library. The Library of Congress’ Center for the Book reports that “One Book” programs have been introduced across the USA and around the world.
Lincoln has enjoyed fourteen previous years of One Book – One Lincoln celebrations. In the fall of 2002, thousands of Lincolnites read and discussed the midwestern tale Plainsong, by former Lincolnite Kent Haruf. For 2003, terrorism and operatic music combined as Ann Patchett’s award-winning novel Bel Canto was selected for our second city-wide reading experience. In 2004, Leif Enger’s dazzling debut novel Peace Like a River explored crime and miracles in Minnesota and South Dakota as our third choice. During the fall of 2005, Lincolnites went on a journey of friendship, discovery and redemption, exploring the culture and history of Afghanistan and its people, as we read and discussed Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel The Kite Runner. In 2006, for the first time, a non-fiction title was selected — Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City — an exploration of the heights and depths of humanity, through the simultaneous exploits of the creators of the miraculous 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the murderous Dr. Henry H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers, who preyed on the Exposition’s attendees. In 2007, readers found themselves thrown back to the Dust Bowl years with Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, and learned about many of the individuals who survived this period in the heart of the devastation. In 2008, we returned to fiction with Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, an atmospheric visit to the world of Gothic literature. In 2009, readers followed a historic religious document in its travels through time and geography through the pages of People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. And in 2010 and 2011, the general reading public were allowed to choose their favorite among the finalists, settling on I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice, by Nebraska author Joe Starita in 2010, and the gripping novel Cutting for Stone in 2011. In 2012, the non-fiction title Destiny of the Republic was the selected title, and in 2013 readers took a walk across England in Rachel Joyce’s novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. In 2014, M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans captivated readers with a haunting exploration of the consequences of choices, and in 2015 issues of immigration and the sense personal identity were explored with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. In our most recent years, the issues of aging and dying with dignity were explored by readers with Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
The One Book – One Lincoln process begins in January each year, as nominations are sought from the reading public for titles to consider for that year’s project. In February, a select committee of library workers and ordinary citizens whittles the list of between 100 and 200 titles down to a group of finalists. Those finalists are announced to the public (via the Lincoln Journal Star and the library’s web site and Facebook) in the Spring, and the public will be given the opportunity to vote of which they would like to see as the selected title for the year. In the Fall, the winning title will be announced, along with the schedule of public book discussion opportunities, and descriptions of any special programming events (related to the book’s themes) being held either at the library or in other venues around Lincoln. Discussion groups and special events will then run throughout the Fall. From 2010 to 2014, the public was invited to help even more in the decision-making process — readers were encouraged throughout June and July to vote on which of the announced finalists they would like to see as the selected title for the year — although discontinued in 2015, public voting will return in 2017!
Lincoln City Libraries Reference staff have compiled specialized resource pages for each year’s selected title. You can view the archived pages for past One Book – One Lincoln projects here. Click on either the links below or the cover graphics above to go to the One Book – One Lincoln page of information for that year’s entry.[Note: These pages are maintained as a historical archive — some of the resource links, especially to pages off-site, are dated and may no longer be active.]: