Suggested One Read: How to Read the Air

Book cover for How to Read the Air by Dinaw MengestuCritically acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu describes the immigrant experience in hauntingly lovely prose in “How to Read the Air,” our next One Read nomination. This is the story of Jonas, who leaves behind his marriage and job in New York to recreate his mother and father’s road trip taken 30 years previously. Along the way he weaves together a family history that will take him from the war-torn Ethiopia of his parents’ youth to his life in the America of today.

Our nominator writes, “In gorgeous language, Mengestu explores the disintegration of relationships, the effects of abuse, the difficulties of immigration and the loss of one’s culture.”

Thank you to everyone who suggested books to be considered for the 2013 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: Wild

Book cover for Wild by Cheryl StrayedOne of the first nominations we received this year was for the New York Times bestseller “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. Ultimately, we heard from several readers who thought this memoir would make a great community-wide read.

One nominator writes, “Strayed’s memoir about the monumental wilderness test she put herself through after the death of her beloved mother is a riveting read that has the quality of a literary novel.” Another local reader calls the book “an inspiring read that will appeal to a variety of readers – folks who’ve lost a parent or struggled through a marriage, as well as outdoor enthusiasts. There’s something for everyone.”

Want to know what other books people in your community are discussing? See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2013!

Suggested One Read: A Good American

Book cover for A Good American by Alex GeorgeAlex George may originally be from Great Britain, but Columbia now claims him as its own! We received multiple nominations for his novel, “A Good American,” in which Frederick and Jette Meisenheimer leave Germany and set sail for America at the turn of the twentieth century. They eventually settle in the fictional town of Beatrice, Missouri, and the story follows the couple’s descendants as they are shaped by the cultural and historical events of the passing decades.

One local reader commented, “The town itself changes as the family does and there are many wonderful, unforgettable characters throughout the book. Many of the issues dealt with in the book are issues we deal with in society today. The author himself is a recent immigrant and has a wonderful perspective on what it is like to become part of a different culture.” This nostalgic family saga explores connections to home, issues of identity, small town life and the power of music.

Want to know what other books people in your community are discussing? View all of the nominated titles we have highlighted here at oneread.org so far and find your next good read!

Suggested One Read: The Ruins of Us

Book cover for The Ruins of Us by Keija ParssinenDuring the nomination process for One Read 2013, there was a huge outpouring of support for local author Keija Parssinen and her novel, “The Ruins of Us.” Here are just a few of the enthusiastic comments nominators shared about this work.

  • “Beautifully-written, tightly-plotted novel about troubles in the marriage of an American woman and a Saudi Arabian man who have lived in Arabia for years with their two children. A great story in itself with background in current issues of Islam and Middle Eastern politics…We usually only hear of war and chaos in this region and this would allow people to perhaps recognize that people have the same hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations all over the world. Great plot, characters with depth – memorable.”
  • “This book is a wonderful combination of a page-turning story and a passport to the elusive Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The book is part love letter to that country but also presents the complex and intricate ways its culture affects universal experiences like love and family. I loved it and think others will too – plus I think it would be so wonderful to support a local author!”
  • “Engrossing plot and particularly immersive setting with individual passages that convey larger truths. I find myself still thinking several weeks later both about the main character Rosalie and her actions and about the country and society in which she lived. The book is especially good at conveying a sense of place. This is an impressive debut novel. It would be a great choice specifically for One Read 2013 because (1) the author lives here and (2) with the recent Arab Spring, the book’s protagonist as a transplanted American opens possibilities for discussion about whether (or to what extent) we as Americans understand another culture even when immersed in it.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2013 One Read book! Nominations are now closed, but we will continue highlighting some of the suggested titles here at oneread.dbrl.org throughout the next few weeks.

Suggested One Read: Pictures at a Revolution

Book cover for Pictures at a Revolution by Mark HarrisAll month we have been receiving your suggestions for our 2013 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.

First up is “Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood” by Mark Harris. The reader proposing this title writes, “This book explores the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967–‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ ‘The Graduate,’ ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ ‘Doctor Doolittle’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde’–using these films to examine the cultural revolution that transformed not only Hollywood but also America.” In 2009, Salon.com named this book as one of the best books of the decade.

There is just one day remaining to send us your suggestions! Let us know what you think our community should read in 2013 by filling out a suggestion form at any of our branches, the bookmobile, or online at oneread.org by November 30.