Suggested One Read: Just Mercy

Just Mercy book cover

Throughout the month we are continuing to highlight a few of the many books nominated for One Read 2017.

Like last year’s One Read selection, “Bettyville” by George Hodgman, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson is a memoir. Stevenson, a lawyer, is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and his book recounts his experiences as a young lawyer working with inmates on death row in Alabama.

Bryan Stevenson’s actions have been compared to those of Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, which was our One Read book back in 2003.

This book has a couple of nominations, and one nominator writes: “for anyone who longs for social justice — this is the book!! A well-crafted, true story of working with innocent death row inmates to restore them to freedom.”

Check out some of the other books nominated by readers for One Read 2017.

Mini Memoir Writing Contest

UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!

“On Betty’s Journey, I have learned something I had not known: I am very strong, strong enough to stay, strong enough to go when the time comes. I am staying not to cling on, but because sometime, at least once, everyone should see someone through. All the way home.” – George Hodgman, “Bettyville”

Great minds only need simple tools by Antti KyllonenIn this year’s One Read selection, George Hodgman tells the story of returning to Paris, Missouri after working for years in New York City and finding both his hometown and his mother in extreme decline. The book is full of stories from his childhood, woven among his present-day struggles and triumphs as his mother’s caregiver – memories, events and conversations that formed the man he now is.

Taking inspiration from “Bettyville,” we invite you to write a personal essay of 250 words or less – a mini memoir – that recalls a pivotal event or interaction that significantly shaped your personality, crystalized your worldview, or otherwise echoed through the years of your life. The memory you choose may be a monumental moment – like the birth of a child or loss of a loved one – or seemingly small, but it should be a moment that stands for something important and from which you learned something about yourself.

Starting September 1, entries may be submitted using this form, mailed or dropped off at any library or bookmobile. (See full rules below for details.) Winning entries and honorable mentions will be published on this site and in the Columbia Missourian (online and in print). Winners will receive a $25 book store gift card.

Entry Form

Entries are due by September 26. Participants must be age 16 or older and residents of Boone or Callaway Counties. Read on for complete contest rules.

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Suggested One Read: Bettyville

Book cover for Bettyville by George HodgmanWe are currently taking your suggestions for our 2016 One Read title, and we’ll be highlighting some of these books here at oneread.org so you can see what other community members are reading and enjoying. All of these titles will be considered by our reading panel as they begin narrowing the list of suggestions. Let us know what you think our community should read in 2016 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile or online at oneread.org by November 30.

First up is “Bettyville” by George Hodgman. Our nominator writes, “[Bettyville] is universal and also local. This is the story of the relationship between a son and mother, the inner workings of a family, growing up gay, growing up in a small town, working as an editor in New York, love and commitment, coping with Alzheimer’s – there is something for everyone!”

What one book do you think our community should read together in 2016? Nominate a book today!

Suggested One Read: Orange Is the new Black

Book cover for Orange Is the New BlackWell-reviewed and popular when first published in 2010, Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in A Women’s Prison” gained even more attention after Netflix launched a series based on the book. The narrative follows the author’s incarceration for drug trafficking, during which she gained a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and met a varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances.

The reader who nominated “Orange Is the new Black” for One Read writes, “This book is a very accurate and eye-opening description of life in a women’s prison. Discussion topics include: the war on drugs, the overpopulation of American prisons, women’s issues, prisoners’ rights, mental illness, incarceration and opportunities to volunteer in prisons. As a women’s prison volunteer myself, I highly recommend this book.”

Thank you to everyone who suggested books to be considered for the 2015 One Read program. As the reading panel begins its work, we will continue to highlight nominated titles so you can learn what others in the community are reading and discussing.

Suggested One Read: The Invisible Wall

Book cover for The Invisible Wall by Harry BernsteinHarry Bernstein’s “The Invisible Wall” proves that it is never too late to write your first book. In his 90s, Bernstein has written a fascinating memoir about his childhood in an impoverished mill town in England before and during World War I. Our nominator elaborates: “His family was poor, his father was abusive and the particular street that he grew up on happened to be the dividing line between the Jewish and Christian neighborhoods, so there is an interesting dynamic between the two sides. This compelling true story also involves a love story between a Jewish girl and Christian boy. My mom and I and everyone we have recommended it to love it.”

See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2012.