So You Think This Book is not for you?

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One Book One Town selection committee meetings are always interesting: We look at dozens of titles annually, each of which have their champions. Over the course of weeks and months a consensus begins to form around two or three titles and from there a decision is made. Most of us approach the idea of what makes a good ‘OBOT’ book differently – we each have our own preferred genres, our own diverse sensibilities about what makes for good reading, our own opinions on what would inspire conversation and our own ideas on which conversations we think our community should engage in and would benefit most from.

Once in a while, though, a book will emerge as a clear favorite right in the beginning. This was such a year. However, like every title that is eventually selected, there were some members of the committee who felt that the book just didn’t speak to them. Their initial indifference was invaluable to those of us who couldn’t put this book down. The doubts expressed are the same as some of those we’ve heard from a few people as we unveiled our choice two weeks ago:

“I don’t use Twitter.”

“I’m not really an Internet person.”

“That’s not my world…”

“That’s what happens when you go online…”

For those of us who have been, to put it mildly, obsessed with this book since those early meetings in June, these comments from our colleagues brought a necessary perspective to our decision process, and helped us clarify our thinking about the value of this story: To us, it’s not about technology. It’s about people. It’s about the way we behave when we think we are part of a crowd. It’s about the things we feel emboldened to say when we assume we are part of a majority, or that everyone around us shares our opinions, our way of thinking, and sometimes, our prejudices.

It’s about how quick we are to judge each other, how easily we indulge in outrage and how quickly we become offended, no matter how near or distant our actual proximity to the offensive person or thing.

Whether it occurs face to face over coffee, gossiping about rumors on the phone, chatting with neighbors at a school meeting, sharing opinions on Facebook or via the seeming anonymity of the comments section on a news site, the instincts remain the same, as do the potential pitfalls. The things we say can sometimes spiral out of our control. This is not something new, born of our increasingly digital culture, although it is certainly magnified by the speed and amplification of social networks. No: This is as old as communication itself.

When I first read this book, I was reminded of a brief scene in a movie based on a play  from a few years ago, set in the 1950s, long before the Internet became a daily presence in our lives:

It’s not perfectly analogous, as shaming and gossip aren’t necessarily the same thing. But they are certainly connected, related in a way that should make us a bit uncomfortable.

Even if you think that this book has no bearing on your life, we encourage you to give it a try: we think it will surprise you. Of course, in the end it might not be ‘for you.’ Despite the ambitious name of this reading adventure, there really is no such thing as ‘One Book’ that literally everybody in this ‘One Town’ will love to read. We take our selection efforts very seriously and remain conscientious when choosing titles from season to season that we are building a roster of books that, taken together, we hope will be useful and inspiring for years to come. Nothing brightens our day more than hearing people talk about our past selections and the impact the act of reading them together has made, and will continue to make, on our community.

-Nicole, Teen Librarian & One Book One Town co-chair

About our Author…

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…at his best, Ronson is one of the finest comic writers working today.” —The Guardian

“[Ronson] is one of our most important modern day thinkers…[So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed] is one of the most therapeutic books imaginable.” – US News & World Report

Jon Ronson is a gonzo journalist in the spirit of the great Hunter S. Thompson, but with the comic styling of the legendary Monty Python. An award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, his unique brand of intellect and comic wit has been described by comedian Jon Stewart as “satirical investigation.” He is a regular contributor to the BBC and NPR and he is the author of seven books including the bestselling The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Fascinated by madness, strange behavior and the human mind, Jon Ronson has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people. In The Men Who Stare at Goats, he goes behind the scenes of the U.S. Army’s secret paranormal warfare program to expose a strange and comic set of characters. The book was originally a BBC documentary series and later a major motion picture starring George Clooney. In its review The New York Times called the book “a twisted treasure hunt…outstandingly artful and chilling.”

Jon is also the author of the bestselling book The Psychopath Test, which The San Francisco Chronicle called “…no ordinary piece of investigative journalism.” In the book he explores the concept of psychopathy and how we define sanity, insanity and eccentricity in our society and in ourselves. The book was adapted into a story for NPR’s This American Life and has become one of the show’s most popular episodes of all time. Published in 2012, Jon’s book Lost at Sea is a collection of his essays that originally appeared in The Guardian (UK). Among the stories chronicled in those essays are Jon’s adventures with America’s real-life superheroes and an interview with a man who has tried to split the atom at his kitchen table.

For his latest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and the very scary part we all play in it.

When not spending time with extremists and psychopaths, Jon likes to spend time with his wife and son. He lives with them in New York City and London.

TOMORROW!

Can you believe it? Tomorrow we will reveal the official 2016 One Book One Town selection for Fairfield! Please plan to join us in the lobby of the Main Library for the official announcement at 9:30 am to be among the very first to know what book we’ll all be talking about for the next six weeks and beyond.

Here’s a final hint about this year’s title. Feel free to make your best guess in the comments below!

The author was born outside the United States.

See you tomorrow!

In less than one week…!

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In just six days we will make the official announcement revealing the 2016 One Book One Town selection! Please join us at the press conference next Tuesday, 1/12 at 9:30 am, where the book will be unveiled in the lobby of the Main Library. Now, here is your second-to-last clue about the title…can you guess what it will be?

We live in a world of communication – everyone gets information about everyone else. There is universal comparison and you don’t just compare yourself with the people next door, you compare yourself to people all over the world and with what is being presented as the decent, proper and dignified life. It’s the crime of humiliation.Zygmunt Bauman

In less than one month…

In just 29 days we will be revealing the official 2016 One Book One Town selection for Fairfield! Please plan to join us in the lobby of the Main Library for the official announcement on January 12, 2016.

Here’s another little hint about this year’s title. Feel free to make your best guess in the comments below!

It is a work of non-fiction, published for adult readers

Please continue to have a happy and healthy holiday season, dear readers!

In just about 50 days…

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We will be revealing the official 2016 One Book One Town selection for Fairfield! Please plan to join us in the lobby of the Main Library for the official announcement on January 12, 2016.

Here’s a little hint about this year’s title. Feel free to make your best guess in the comments below!

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Coming Soon…One Book One Town 2016

Yes – it’s about that time, Fairfield!

The One Book One Town selection for 2016 has been selected and we can’t wait to tell you all about it…in a few months.

We will make the official announcement on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. What we can say is that the One Book One Town selection committee is very excited about the upcoming season as it takes this beloved annual event in an entirely fresh direction.

Keep checking back here for some hints and clues about our new book and make sure to save the date of our big announcement.

 

Registration for An Evening with Emily St. John Mandel begins on Wednesday!

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March is here, and even though we might not see the end of this winter for a few more weeks, it’s officially time for One Book One Town! Copies of Station Eleven are flying off our shelves and displays, and we are ready to get our community conversation started!

Registration for our signature event, An Evening with Emily St. John Mandel begins this Wednesday, March 4th at 9:00 am. Register here, or call us at 203.256.3160. This event is expected to fill to capacity quickly, but don’t hesitate to put yourself on the waiting list if necessary – we are constantly working to make sure we can accommodate as many people as possible!

Meet the Committee: Sandra Agoes

Each week we will introduce a member of the One Book One Town committee as we prepare to bring another outstanding title, author, and slate of events to Fairfield.

Sandra Agoes, a longtime resident of Fairfield, has worked at Fairfield High School and the Fairfield Public Library. Her retirement from the library has given her the opportunity to enjoy all types of books, from her granddaughter’s latest read to a new debut author that has just appeared on the horizon.

A member of the committee since 2007, she enjoys her search for the perfect community read. She looks for something new and different with interest for as many Fairfielders as possible. Has she found the perfect book for every member of the community? Not yet…but she is sure enjoying the search!