Beginning in March, the One Book, One New York program hopes to get everyone in New York City to participate in a shared reading experience. Buzzfeed partnered with Commissioner Julie Menin and the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment office to launch the program on Feb. 1. Selection for the inaugural title begins this month, and I've got a look at the five books all of NYC will vote to read below.
This isn't the first time a citywide reading program has been attempted in New York. Back in 2002, a selection committee — unrelated to the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, which is in charge of this year's initiative — for "one book, one city" stalled out over fears of poor reception after narrowing their choices to two titles: Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee and The Color of Water by James McBride.
One Book, One New York appears to have learned from the mistakes of its past, however. The New York Times reports that city "officials asked an advisory panel made up of heads of public libraries, publishers, academics and others to suggest possible books." After narrowing down the list to five titles, the reading program has tasked New Yorkers with voting for their book of choice during the month of February. Votes may be registered online or via subway kiosks, and voters can watch video endorsements from celebrities before casting their ballots.
Check out the five books all of NYC will vote to read below, and share your favorite with me on Twitter!
'The Sellout' by Paul Beatty, endorsed by Giancarlo Esposito
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul actor Giancarlo Esposito calls Paul Beatty's The Sellout "one of the sharpest and most biting books in recent memory." The story of a California man who annexes and re-segregates his town, Beatty's novel won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2016.
'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, endorsed by Bebe Neuwirth
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's award-winning novel centers on Ifemelu and Obinze: a pair of high school sweethearts living in Lagos, Nigeria. University life and post-9/11 security measures eventually separate them, but, after achieving independent success, Ifemelu and Obinze find their way back to each other.
'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith, endorsed by William H. Macy
William H. Macy channels Frank Gallagher to endorse this "story of another family of low-repute but with ambitions." Set in the early 20th century, Betty Smith's 1943 novel charts the lives of Francie Nolan, her brother, and their parents, who are themselves the children of Irish and Austrian immigrants.
'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Díaz, endorsed by Larry Wilmore
Larry Wilmore calls The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao "the best story about an overweight kid who's into science fiction and desperate to find love since 'The Larry Wilmore Story.'" Junot Díaz's award-winning novel focuses on Oscar, a Dominican kid from New Jersey who wants to write speculative fiction, get laid, and break his family's curse.