How is the One Book One Community Chosen?
The One Book concept was created in 1996 in Seattle, Washington to foster discussion and create a shared experience within the community by encouraging everyone to read a particular book. Since that time the One Book concept has been embraced by states, cities, and communities around the world.
Sarasota County Public Libraries have been involved with the One Book One Community program for 17 years. Every year the libraries offer author events, book discussions and programs related to the themes of the selected book.
How do we decide upon the selection each year? How can we know what people might enjoy and respond to? Over the years, the decision has been made by a selection committee comprised of library staff and interested community members and organizations.
Our selections have been guided by different factors. In our first year, we picked a Florida mainstay, A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith. We continued the Florida theme in subsequent years with books like Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford (2005), Remembering Blue by Connie Mae Fowler (2008) and Hurricane Punch by Tim Dorsey (2009).
In other years, our selections were designed to engage the readers through collaborative activities with community partners. The Asolo Repertory Theatre productions of Pride and Prejudice in 2006 and A Tale of Two Cities in 2007 led to the selection of those literary classics for One Book for those years.
We worked with the school system to particularly engage younger readers for 2010’s The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, 2011’s The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Muck City by Bryan Mealer, the 2014 selection.
Sometimes the books have been best-sellers that were extremely popular and compulsively discussable with both library patrons and book clubs. Such was the case with Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (2004), Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2012), Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline (2015), Sing For Your Life by Daniel Bergner (2018), Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, and The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (2020).
Some books were selected to work in tandem with specific events, celebrations and anniversaries. That was the case for 2016, when we celebrated the entire works of Sarasota author John D. MacDonald in honor of his 100th Birthday, complete with a Mayoral proclamation and historical marker, as well as a birthday cake!
2017 brought the World Rowing Championships to Sarasota, and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown was the perfect book to bring attention to the games and the sport of rowing.
And so… here we are, with the 2021 selection to be revealed next month. What will it be? What should it be? Stay tuned and check in at https://www.scgov.net/onebook to find out more!