New York City has announced its One Book, One New York program, which will encourage residents of each of the five boroughs to read the same book once the title is announced in March. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), which is spearheading the initiative, has hailed the program as “the largest community read program in the country.”
New Yorkers will be encouraged throughout February to vote for the book from a list of five finalists: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
“Being that New York City is the epicenter of the publishing industry, it struck me that we should be doing something really significant to support the publishing industry, to promote literacy, and to support independent bookstores throughout the city,” MOME commissioner Julie Menin said of the program. “We want to make sure that in every single borough we are promoting literacy and supporting local bookstores.” In announcing the program, New York joins hundreds of other cities and regions that have adopted one Book, One Read programs.
Menin added that the publishers of the five books up for vote have donated more than 4,000 copies of the books to more than 200 libraries throughout the city—and once the book is chosen, the city will host an author event at the New York Public Library, as well as a number of ancillary events at bookstores throughout the city that will, Menin said, “depend upon the book chosen.”
Voting will be available online and at the digital kiosks located throughout the city’s subway system, Menin said. An ad campaign featuring five celebrity advocates—actors Bebe Neuwirth, William H. Macy, Giancarlo Esposito, and Danielle Brooks, along with comedian Larry Wilmore—will include videos produced in partnership with Buzzfeed and more traditional advertising on subway platforms, at bus stops, and in NYC taxis.
“Something that makes it incredibly timely in this moment our country is in is that all five of these books deal with themes of immigration, of race, oftentimes of being an outsider,” Menin said. “These books are incredibly timely. These are really thought-provoking books that really speak to the age that we’re in.”