One-upping Oprah

"One Book, One City" initiatives, whereby local residents all read and discuss the same book during a set period of time, have spread ...
by | March 6, 2006

"One Book, One City" initiatives, whereby local residents all read and discuss the same book during a set period of time, have spread to hundreds of municipalities across the country since Seattle pioneered the concept eight years ago.

Someday, I'm going to write a feature story for Governing that explores the impact--if any--that "One Book" activities--small-group discussions, lectures, film screenings, dramatic readings and other events--have on participating communities.

In the meantime, I just learned of a new approach the Chicago Public Library is taking with its selection for 2006, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn: Chicagoans who read the book can engage in online discussions with participating residents in their sister city of Moscow.

In partnership with the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature (which presumably will provide Cyrillic translation services), this "international book club" has the potential to put Americans in a direct dialogue with some of the 20 million Soviet citizens who actually experienced the gulag.

It certainly introduces a new dimension beyond chatting about Tom Sawyer with your neighbor across the back fence.       

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