The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment on Tuesday announced the kickoff of a community reading initiative that will spotlight a series of books with connections to New York City. Their end goal: get the city to read the same book at the same time (which has been attempted in the past). The program, called "One Book, One City," is being run as a contest in February, with New Yorkers given the chance to vote on one of five books selected for consideration. The books are:
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
According to a press release announcing the initiative, the city will be publicizing the contest all around New York to bring residents of all five boroughs aboard.
"We're thrilled to celebrate our enduring literary capital with the One Book, One New York program," stated Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. The program "will reignite conversations about reading throughout the city, from our libraries to our subway platforms, from our local bookstores to the coffee shop."
Each book is being promoted by a different celebrity "advocate" who will offer a video testimonial through a partnership with BuzzFeed. The celebrities (and their books) are: Larry Wilmore (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Danielle Brooks (Between the World and Me), William H. Macy (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), The Get Down's Giancarlo Esposito (The Sellout) and Bebe Newirth (Americanah).
At the end of February, New Yorkers will cast their votes, online or at digital kiosks at certain subway stations. There will be public events focused on the winning book across the city throughout the spring. According to the release, the books' publishers provided copies of the books to each public library branch in the city. That's more than 4,000 books for more than 200 branches.
One Book, One New York "will encourage the entire city not only to read the same book at the same time, but to engage in honest, perhaps even painful, conversations about the themes addressed in these five extraordinary works, including race, immigration and how we choose to perceive those who are different from us," Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson stated.