One Book One New York Gets NYC Reading

One Book One New York

Does anyone read anymore? That is a really good question with bookstores going out of business, newspapers folding, and everyone addicted to the newest version of Candy Crush for 2017(I feel so old because I don’t know what the new cool app is).  Somebody out there can tell me what is cool, in the comments. Anyway, this post is about a cool new project that the City of New York has rolled out this year, It is called, One Book One New York, and it is a citywide book club where an award-winning book is voted on by New Yorkers to be read by New Yorkers.

What’s The Idea Behind One Book One New York?

The program is the idea of Commissioner Julie Menin and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment to get New York reading more and building community by the population of the city becoming an active book club using the subway, Buzzfeed,  Twitter, YouTube and the government website to publicize the vote to pick the first book. Can you imagine strangers on the train breaking out into conversation over a great piece of literature and their views on it because of One Book One New York? That would be amazing to me, to be able to have a friendly debate on the way to work instead of having the usual contest to avoid eye contact lingering past the proper length of time. The voting started in New York City on February 1st and being the over the top city that it is, well-known New York celebrities were used in presenting the five choices. For the full month of February, all of New York City could vote for their favorite choice and the winner is to be announced this morning!

What Are The Choices For The First Pick?

Like I mentioned before, there were five choices and each one was pitched by a celebrity in a YouTube video as their favorite and the accompanying descriptions were from the One Book One New York official page.

Bebe Neuwirth picked “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Danielle Brooks picked “Between the World And Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates,

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and a current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Larry Wilmore picked “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

Giancarlo Esposito picked “The Sellout” by Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

William H. Macy picked “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.


For the first book pick of One Book One New York, will have a press event to announce the winner and will be the launch of the largest community read in the country. That sentence was the tagline on all the advertisements and it is an admirable thing to start a peaceful moment in the chaos of this city. Another amazing benefit to this program is that 4000 copies of the five picks were given to 200 of the city libraries to make it easier for everyone to find copies and be able to read along in unison. The winner for the first pick is “Americanah” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! You can download a free audiobook copy and start reading right away if you click here

What a wonderful project! Don’t you agree? Which book would you have chosen? Have you heard about this project or seen the poster already? Will you be reading along? Tell me all your thoughts in the comment section below, I can’t wait to read them.

one book one new york

Until our next rendezvous…



32 thoughts on “One Book One New York Gets NYC Reading

  1. I have seen the ads, but I have so many books stacked up or currently reading that I won’t be able to wrap my head around it! Of the 5, I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn years and years ago…(you may be old, but I’m OLD! lol). And my wife and I read Between The World And Me when a buzz started happening around it. As an aside, the reason we found out about that book was from our awesome bookstore-Astoria Books, which though small, packs a lot of excellent books in. My wife went to a Feminist Book Club there a week or so ago where they had a huge turnout. I agree its not the same in general these days, but I applaud this effort for sure.

    1. I hope this builds excitement for reading as well and hopefully brings people back to spending money at bookstores. I prefer this then the oft mean mug looks on the train. Haha! I love how varied the choices were and the list of events coming up surrounding the project. I’m going to start reading next week after I get a copy or download the audiobook. Also, there were so many small bookstores tweeting about it, I love the involvement.

      1. That would be nice. Though I am certainly guilty of it myself, the two things I miss the most are music stores and book stores. I once worked at Tower Records and being around music all day, knowing you could spend hours exploring was special. Yes I know I can buy it online, yes I know I can go to a vinyl store or a place like Academy, but I really miss meandering down those aisles.

        1. I loved Tower Records. I do like doing that St Rough Trade, it brings Tower Records /Virgin Megastore vibes back to me. I spent a lot of date nights there..Also I spend a lot of time at the Strand for the same reason, touching books is do different than going through the queue on Amazon.

          1. I like Rough Trade I’m just not able to get there too much. It does have that vibe as you say. I love the Strand too. The tactile element is important to me when deciding on a book-no lie!

            1. I agree 100% on those points. The vibe in Rough Trade really makes me miss the old Times Square. I know that sounds crazy but you know what I mean. And I can spend hours in the Strand when I’m wearing the right shoes. I would love it if they expanded or reopened another location.

                    1. I’ve seen them but was never in the mood or had time to stop. I have to say that when I’m around the park I’m usually rushing somewhere.

  2. Right now I have 1984 and The Girl on the Train waiting to be read. I love books and bookstores! And I am glad I’m not the only one who remembers Tower Records!! I used to go and browse the one in Hollywood. I miss those days! Not all of them though! 😉
    However, I do believe that newspapers and bookstores are becoming chic again. And that’s good!
    Happy reading, Trudy! 🙂

    1. Thank you Sabine! I just hope that the momentum continues. There are events planned for the next four months to get more awareness of the project as well as discussing the book. I’ll keep an eye out for the progress.

  3. We were so stoked about this! Talk about going back to basics. We love conversations about books because people take away so many different things from the same material. Looking forward to seeing how it grows!

    1. So am I! There are so many book events during the Summer, so I hope that this one book will bring them all together throughout the different communities. I think making the audiobook available for free was an amazing first step.

  4. Candy crush is a puzzle game where you click rows of certain colors until they disappear. But they make it addicting as possible. Giving you bonuses and such and making sure you check in daily and what not. I’m not playing but my husband is. As far as reading goes, I love to read and I read and listen to probably at least 5 books a month! What a great way to encourage reading in New York!

    1. Yes, I loved playing it, I meant the new game that was as popular as that was when it came out. I think the last craze was Two Dots. That’s an amazing amount of books! You are a great reader!

  5. This is such an awesome project! What a great way to promote reading and to build community than through a shared love for a turn of phrase? I wish it’s replicated all over the world!

    1. I believe other cities around the world have formed similar book groups. Maybe if you suggest it using website as a guide, your city can be next?

  6. I’m so pleased “Americanah” was chosen as it was the book that jumped out at me as I was reading/listening to your blogpost. I hope it is available in the UK to read … I’m doing a search right now. ??

  7. I hadn’t heard of this! Thanks so much for sharing and outlining what it’s all about. I’ve been wanting to read more…and keep putting it off (shame on me)! This also seems like a great way to actually start conversations in public potentially – “Oh, are you reading because of One Book One New York too?” Hehe the stuff of meet-cute DREAMS!

    1. You’re welcome! I thought that it was a freaking great idea! I have trouble sticking books into my life because I’m usually reading different blogs and my life is so unorganized. But I thought it was awesome because at least you can get the audio file for free and it is an awesome way to talk to people, hopefully all super cute! I have to get a copy from the library because that is the best wing man, “He’s cute and he reads!!”.

What do you think? I would like to know.

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