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 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 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: 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 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 throughout the next few weeks.

Suggested One Read: Cemetery Bird

Book cover for Cemetery Bird by Bridget BuffordDuring the nomination process for One Read 2012, many of you voiced your support for “Cemetery Bird” by local author Bridget Bufford. Here are just a few of the comments from area readers about this novel.

  • “This is a compelling story with several direct Missouri connections that I think would get people interested in reading it. The story also has compelling female and ethnic minority characters that I think would speak to a broad base of Columbia’s diverse community. The main character is a part-Apache firefighter whose story is both exotic enough to be interesting and familiar enough to form a connection with local readers. The storyline touches on issues such as substance abuse and autism, and I believe this could help bring awareness to those issues in our community.”
  • “This book puts you inside the minds of persons with autism and persons with brain injuries. I think that getting some understanding of what it is like to face these issues from inside them is fascinating and brings understanding. It is hard to put down–the characters are strong and unusual.”
  • “It is an enlightening story of maturity, consciousness and insight into the human condition. Bridget has an uncanny grasp on human behavior, what we observe and what we discard as we journey through this bumpy life.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2012 One Read book! Nominations are now closed, but we will continue highlighting some of the suggested titles here at throughout the month of December.

See other readers’ nominations for One Read 2012.