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

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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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!

Thank You Fairfield!

A few years ago, one of our past One Book One Town authors mentioned how impressed he was with the idea of a community organizing itself around the sharing of a story. Now, another ‘OBOT’ season has come to a close and we would like to thank Fairfield for taking another incredible journey with us.

Each year we try and select a book that is radically different than the years before and once again, the town has embraced this year’s title, A House in the Sky. An almost-capacity crowd filled the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts at Fairfield University to see Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett speak. It was an emotional, empowering night that left everyone fortunate enough to experience it deeply moved and fundamentally changed.

Amanda Lindhout, author of "A House in the Sky," became emotional as she recounted some of the horrors of her abduction and 15-month captivity in Somalia as she spoke to a One Book One Town audience of nearly 800 people Wednesday at Fairfield University. Photo: Meg Barone / Fairfield Citizen

The authors shared a similar sentiment:

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Many thanks to our community partners like the Pequot Library, Fairfield University and the Fairfield University Bookstore, the primary sponsor the Friends of the Fairfield Public Library and our other sponsors listed on this blog.

Each year we wonder how we’ll ever be able to put together as satisfying a One Book One Town experience as the previous year. We’re still working on that, but for now, if you have a suggestion for One Book One Town 2015, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Happy Reading and see you next Winter!