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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 eighteen years of One Book – One Lincoln celebrations. In the fall of 2002, thousands of Lincoln residents 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 in the pages of People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. And in 2010 through 2014, the general reading public were allowed to vote for 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 contemporary novel Cutting for Stone in 2011. In 2012, the historical 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. In 2015 and 2016, a selection committee chose the winning titles. In 2015, issues of immigration and the sense of personal identity were explored with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah. In 2016, the topics of aging and dying with dignity were explored by readers with the non-fiction title, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. In 2017, readers observed the passing of history from a Moscow luxury hotel alongside Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the titular character of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. In 2018, the true crime history narrative Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann was chosen in the popular vote. And in 2019, viewers read about the issues related to immigration in the non-fiction title The Far Away Brothers by Lauren Markham.
Since 2015, nominations can be submitted year-round via our online form. The One Book – One Lincoln process begins in earnest in January each year, as the final round of nominations are sought from the reading public for titles to consider for that year’s project. In February, a selection committee of library workers and ordinary citizens whittles the list of between 100 and 200 titles down to a “shortlist” of 9 to 12 highly recommended titles, from which that committee also selects a group of three finalists. Those finalists are announced to the public (via the library’s web site Twitter feed and Facebook pages, and the Lincoln Journal Star) on Memorial Day, and the public is given the opportunity to vote on which finalist they would like to see as the selected title for the year. Also on Memorial Day, 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. On Labor day, the winning title in the public vote is announced. Discussion groups and special events will then run throughout the Fall.
Lincoln City Libraries Reference staff compile specialized resource pages for each year’s selected winning 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.]: