Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Book -- One Town

One Book One Vancouver

Sometimes, someone has a simply brilliant idea. It is so brilliant that it spreads like wildfire and everyone wonders why no one thought of it before. What on earth am I talking about, you ask? It's the One Book -- One Town Reading Campaign.

Vancouver started One Book-One Vancouver six years ago. Of course it's based in the Vancouver Public Library system, with multiple copies of the chosen book, along with brochures about the book and the campaign and reading guides for those wishing to use it in book clubs. The people of Vancouver vote on the choice of book from a short list placed on the library's website. In previous years it had been a book with a local connection, however the 2007 book is My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki, an American writer. Nora Cody, a reviewer, wrote in her review of the book:
My Year of Meats is a wonderful, strong, disturbing, funny novel. It is at times hilarious and absurd, at times shocking and heart wrenching.
I myself found it shocking and disturbing and did not care for it at all. It certainly makes you want to be a vegetarian. But that no way negates the idea of the One Book -- One Town project to my mind.

Until recently I had no idea that this was not a Vancouver Library initiative. Imagine my surprise when I read recently that the One Book -- One Town project was thought up by Nancy Pearl of the Washington Center for the Book, in Seattle.

Originally called If all of Seattle read the Same Book, it is now known as Seattle Reads. It started in 1998 and from there has spread rapidly to more than 350 communities throughout fifty one states and abroad to Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The Library of Congress has compiled a list of the communities and the books chosen here for our interest. I found it fascinating. Check the list. Maybe your community is involved and you don't know it. Perhaps it's an idea your community might wish to adopt.

In any event I wish you all Happy Reading. Remember: To Read is to Learn, a slogan I made up for my high school celebration of Book Week, more than fifty years ago and won me a book prize, which I have to this day. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, with a navy leather cover and a gold school crest embedded in the cover.

This is posted today in celebration of the Vancouver Public Library reopening after a three month long strike by the workers.


RUTH said...

What a brilliant idea :o)

Janice Thomson said...

Ditto Ruth. I wish it was a world-wide project because 'to read IS to learn'. Excellent post Jmb.

Carver said...

Hi JMB, First I have to say that's wonderful that the strike has ended in the Vancouver Library System. I can't imagine having that happen.

My oldest sister told me about the One Book campaign because they were doing that when she was spending time in Key West, FL and she wanted to know what I thought of the book. I assumed until reading your post that it was a Key West activity. Especially since my sister tries to time some of her Key West visits with writer's workshop they have. She lives in Nantucket, MA most of the time.

So, imagine my surprise when I followed your link to find out that my town is a participant and has been for years. This year the book is The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I'll have to look for that in my library as I haven't read that book yet. I'm also going to check out Manhattan and San Francisco on your link as my other siblings also read a lot and I bet their towns are participants.

Take care, Carver

Sen. Peter Higham Paul said...

I think only in Vancouver this type of thing is possible - must be the bracing atmosphere.

Tai said...

Ah, I remember that! As you noted, a few years ago the local books were promoted.
Purchase of the books were also a donation to a Vancouver based charity, yes? Perhaps that is a different initiative.
Nonetheless! A wonderful and including plan it is. Wonder if Victoria is going to do the same? Maybe I should inquire!

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I suspect if there was a book for Birmingham, it would not be very highbrow...

Lady Chatterleys Lover, or something, I guess.

Liz said...

Horray, the strike's over!

What a great idea 'one book - one town is'. I'm not sure if I would want to read that particular book though!

Liz said...

Bristol and Stevenage are the UK's 'entrants' and both seemed to have ceased with 2005.

I noticed The Secret Lives of Bees on the lists somewhere; have you read it? Highly recommended.

Ian Lidster said...

It must have been so galling for you to have the libraries behind picket lines. Please don't let me get started on unions.
Otherwise, do read is to live life to its fullest. A brilliant idea. I've done a bit of work with our local literacy society, so I know how dreadful it is to not be able to read. I mean, I know by default by working with the illiterate or semi-literate.
Oh, and your comment on my blog re the Elgar Concerto. We are of full accord; it must be du Pre.

paullove said...

Hi there, u just been given an award from ma blog do pass it around thanks ya nice blog! keep it up!

leslie said...

I know my sister will be over the hill with the knowledge that the libraries are open again. She's a regular at the Kerrisdale branch. Re the book "The Secret Life of Bees" it is a great read for anyone looking for a good book. I've never heard of the one book-one town thing but then I live out in Delta. I wonder if they have the same thing. Will check into it.

jmb said...

Hi Ruth,
Isn't it just? We have had some quite good books till this one, even "The Corporation".

Hi Janice,
Any town with a public library can do it easily. Although it probably works better in a larger town.

Hi Carver,
Yes we are all glad the strike is over although it's been very tough on the library staff.
See I told you all that your town might also be taking part. The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a wonderful book. I really liked it.

Hi James,
In BC, the warmest part of Canada, we read and buy more books per capita than any other part of Canada. I certainly do my bit to help the stats.

Hi Tai,
I don't think it is connected to a charity, but it is a great idea. You should suggest it for Victoria, it's a large enough city.

Hi Crushed,
Now why are you so critical of Lady Chatterley's Lover? Well actually it is a bit boring as I recall. I first read it expurgated and lived in London in 1960 when the famous court case overturned the ban on it in England.

Also one of my very good friends here is the widow of the cousin of Frieda, Lawrence's wife on whom the book was based. She was considered the black sheep of the family because she left her husband and 3 children to run off with Lawrence.

Hi Liz,
Great idea, usually a good book but not this year. Although many of my friends loved it and are always trying to suggest it for my
book club. I did like the Secret Life of Bees.

Hi Ian,
Well I did miss my weekly visit to the library but I read my own books and bought a few more just in case. I can't imagine my life without books.

Well Paul, who ever you are, I will check it out.

Hi Leslie,
I often visit the Kerrisdale library too. Well actually I visit all the westside libraries! You could ask them to start it in Delta if they don't already have it.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting

Sen. Peter Higham Paul said...

Don't know how you have the time - you're so active.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I, too, think that's a brilliant idea. Well done, Vancouver!

jmb said...

Hey James, you're losing it. You commented here already, but welcome again.

Hi Welshcakes,
I think it's a wonderful idea and I liked all the other books until this year.