Reading Group Center

One Book, One Community

Ever since Seattle started the trend in 1998, the phenomenon of One Book, One Community reading programs has been growing steadily across the country. Vintage and Anchor Books are proud supporters of these community-based reading initiatives, and whether you’re already established or just getting started, we’re pleased to offer a wide range of resources. Read on for selected favorites, new suggestions, on-line resources, and more.

Suggested Titles

How do you choose the best selection for your community reading program? Take a look at what communities around the country have been reading. We’ve also added a few suggestions of our own–books with subjects and themes that lend themselves to great community discussion.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Read by: Beverly Hills, CA | Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda, CA | Sacramento Bee Book Club

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

Read by: DeKalb, IL | Redondo Beach, CA | Irving, TX | Port Charlotte, FL

Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Read by: DeKalb, IL | Redondo Beach, CA | Irving, TX | Port Charlotte, FL

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg

“Lucid, realistic, compassionate, and illuminating… In its detail, depth, richness and sheer intelligence, Hurry Down Sunshine will be recognized as a classic of its kind.”
–Oliver Sacks, The New York Review of Books

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

“Ranks among the great adventure books of all time.”
The Wall Street Journal

Read by: Rockford, IL

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

“Dashiell Hammett . . . is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer.
The Boston Globe

Read by: Phoenix, AZ | West Valley Arts Council, AZ | Danville, CA | Los Angeles, CA | Savannah State University, GA | Boise, ID | Champaign, IL | Peoria, IL | Sterling, IL | Grand Rapids, MI | Ironwood Carnegie Library, MI | Fergus Falls, MN | Plattsmouth, NE |
Churchill County, NV | Buffalo/Erie County, NY | Caldwell Country, NC | Cumberland Country, NC | Hiram College, OH | Harrisburg, PA | Scranton, PA | Spartanburg, SC | Irving, TX | Staunton, VA | Snohomish/Island Counties, WA | Martinsburg-Berkeley, WV

My Antonia by Willa Cather

“No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.”
–H.L. Mencken

Read by: Chicago, IL | Wichita, KS | Pocumtuck Valley, MA | Nebraska (Statewide) | Lonesome Pine, UT | Wyoming (Statewide)

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill

“Stunning . . . with echoes of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece . . . a resonant meditation on the American Dream.”
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“A page turner and a heartbreaker, a tour de force of knotted tension and buried anguish.”

Read by: San Francisco, CA

Old School by Tobias Wolff

“Ingenious. . . . A tour de force. . . . Achieves a real profundity.”
The Boston Globe

Read by: Bellingham, WA | Roseville, CA | Kansas City, MO

Push by Sapphire

“You feel you’ve witnessed nothing less than the birth of a soul.”
–Entertainment Weekly

The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick

“Fierce, concentrated, and brutal, The Shawl burns itself into the reader’s imagination with almost surreal power.”
The New York Times

Read by: Gadsden, AL | Caldwell, NJ | Rochester, NY

Sum by David Eagleman

“Read Sum and be amazed.”
Time Magazine

The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz

Read by: Arab American National Museum, MI | Columbia University, NY | South Dakota Humanities Council, SD | Huntsville-Madison County, AL

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

“Things Fall Apart may well be Africa’s best loved novel. . . . For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction.”
Kwame Anthony Appiah

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

“Stunning. . . . Gorgeous. . . . Never before has Lahiri mined so perfectly the secrets of the human heart.”
USA Today

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

“Wangari Maathaiís memoir is direct, honest, and beautifully written–a gripping account of modern Africaís trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause.”
President Bill Clinton

What is the What by Dave Eggers

“Told with humor, humanity, and bottomless compassion for his subject. . . . It is impossible to read this book and not be humbled, enlightened, transformed.”
–Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

Read by: Marin County, CA | Philadelphia, PA

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

“A deeply moving novel…delightful and poignant…. Like the best of poetry, it opens the windows of the heart without a wasted word.”
Miami Herald

Read by: Arkansas | Berkely, CA | Commerce, CA | Escondido, CA | Los Angeles, CA | Pico-Rivera, CA | Sonoma County, CA | Jacksonville, FL | Miami, FL | Chicago, IL | Kansas City, MO | St. Louis, MO | Portland, OR | Brazos Valley, TX | El Paso, TX | Milwaukee, WI

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

“This majestic, moving novel is an instant classic, that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives.”
Chicago Tribune

Read by: California State University | Hayward Public Library, CA | Georgia College & State University, GA | Peoria, IL | Bloomington, IN | Kentucky State University, KY | East Baton Rouge Parish Library, LA | Lafayette, LA | New Orleans, LA | Newton, MA | Givens Foundation, MN | Washoe County (Reno), NV | Albequerque, NM | Buffalo, NY | Rochester, NY | Syracuse, NY | Westchester Arts Council, NY | Greensboro, NC | Watauga County, OH | Cincinnati, OH | Columbus, OH | Multnomah County (Portland), OR | Rhodes College, TN | College Station – Bryan, TX | Houston, TX | Waco, TX | Wiley College, TX | Richmond, VA | Seattle, WA

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

“A novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has power to exalt the reader.”
The New York Times Book Review

Read by: Arizona (Statewide) | Loveland, CO | Springfield, IL | Vigo County (Terre Haute), IN | Cedar Rapids, IA | Manhattan, KS | Grand Rapids, MI | Columbia, MO | Kansas City, MO | Lincoln, NE | Weahpeton & Breckenridge, ND | Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX | Salt Lake City, UT | Spokane, WA

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

“A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex. . . . Just as the world of Orwell’s 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood’s handmaid!”
The Washington Post Book World

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes. . . . Adichie’s understanding of a young girl’s heart is so acute that her story ultimately rises above its setting and makes her little part of Nigeria seem as close and vivid as Eudora Welty’s Mississippi.”
The Boston Globe

Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian

“Chris Bohjalian’s many fans will be glad to know he’s back on the high wire, expertly balancing topical issues with the more timeless concerns of the human heart. His well-drawn, sympathetic characters deepen and intensify the novel’s gripping plot rather than simply serving it. BEFORE YOU KNOW KINDNESS is smart, first-rate storytelling.”
–Richard Russo, author of EMPIRE FALLS

Read by: Augusta, ME | Wilmington, MA | Traverse City, MI | Western Michigan, MI | New London, NH | Richardson, TX

All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg

“A grand memoir. . . . Bragg tells about the South with such power and bone-naked love . . . he will make you cry.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Read by: Arkansas (Statewide) | Kalamazoo, MI | Cape Girardeau, MO | Evansville, IN | Gwinnett County, GA | Henry County, TN | Jackson-Madison County, TN | Murfreesboro, TN

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

“A gripping portrait of a family. . . . Goldberg is a terrifically smart, acutely talented writer.”
San Francisco Chronicle

Read by: Methuen, MA

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy.”
The New Yorker

Read by: Santa Barbara, CA | North Reading, MA | New Paltz, NY | Wake County, NC | Cincinnati, OH | Galueston, TX | Salt Lake City, UT

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

“A play that changed American theater forever.”
The New York Times

Read by: Chicago, IL

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges

“Bitterly poetic and ruthlessly philosophical. . . . A powerful message to people contemplating the escalation of the war against terrorism.”
Los Angeles Times

Read by: South Bend, IN

The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project

“Astonishing. Not since Angels in America has a play attempted so much: nothing less than an examination of the American psyche at the end of the millennium.”
Associated Press

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

“A remarkable book. . . . As an account of growing up female and Chinese-American . . . it is anti-nostalgia; it burns the fat right out of the mind.”
The New York Times

Read by: Saratoga, CA

The White by Deborah Larsen

“Riveting . . . lyrical. . . . An indelible portrait of a remarkable woman. . . . [A] brutal and beautiful novel.”
The New York Times

Read by: Chambersburg, PA | Harrisburg, PA (six counties)

Property by Valerie Martin

“This fresh, unsentimental look at what slave owning does to (and for) one’s interior life must be a first. And the writing–so prised and clean-limbed–is a marvel.”
Toni Morrison

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

“One of the best, most charming, honest, hilarious and life-affirming books to appear in years.”
The Plain Dealer

Read by: Carlsbad, CA | Monterey, CA | Grand Rapids, MI

Beloved by Toni Morrison

“A masterwork. . . . Wonderful. . . . I can’t imagine American literature without it.”
–John Leonard, Los Angeles Times

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong

“Powerful and life-affirming, this is the kind of exciting memoir that marks a reader forever.”
The Plain Dealer

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

“WHEN THE EMPEROR WAS DIVINE is a novel about loyalty, about identity, and about being other in America during uncertain times.”
–Nathan Englander, author of FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES

Read by: Clayton, CA | Contra Costa Country, CA | Glendale, CA | Silicon Valley, CA | Ft. Collins, CO | Cheshire, CT | Westport, CT | Johnson County (Iowa City), IA | Winnetka-Northfield, IL | Carmel, IN | St. Charles, IN | Topeka, KS | Howard Country, MD | St. Peter, MN | Vermont (Statewide) | Seattle, WA

The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer

“Packer’s novel explores how life itself can confront ordinary human beings with daunting moral dilemmas.”
USA Today

Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean

“Deeply moving. . . . Sister Prejean is an excellent writer, direct and honest and unsentimental; her accounts of crime and punishment are gripping, and her argument is persuasive.”
USA Today

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

“Gives the rest of the world a glimpse into that dark place where the human spirit continues, against all odds, to shine its light.”
USA Today

Read by: Santa Monica, CA | Westwood, MA | Snohomish/Island Counties, WA

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

“Stunning. . . . Heartbreaking. . . . This novelist is destined for great things.”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

“Marvelous. . . . Edgar Mint is nobody’s Everyman, but he is the hope and the pain of a child looking for, and eventually finding, a home.”
Los Angeles Times

Read by: Vail, CO

Regional Appeal Titles

If you’re looking for a novel that brilliantly evokes the people and landscape of a specific area or a nonfiction book with a regional focus, the following titles make for perfect selections. From the Pacific Northwest to the deep South, these authors have a talent for immersing the reader in a setting and creating a completely unique reading experience.

Northeast & Mid-Atlantic

* Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
* The Price of a Child by Lorene Cary
* Honky by Dalton Conley
* The White by Deborah Larsen
* Sap Rising by Christine Lincoln
* In Revere, In Those Days by Roland Merullo
* Empire Falls by Richard Russo
* When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
* Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout


* All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
* Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg
* Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
* A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
* Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
* Property by Valerie Martin
* At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
* Visible Spirits by Steve Yarbrough


* The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
* Saul and Patsy by Charles Baxter
* The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
* A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
* In the River Sweet by Patricia Henley
* The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
* A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
* My Ántonia by Willa Cather

West & Southwest

* Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt
* House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
* Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
* Plainsong by Kent Haruf
* All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
* Six Out Seven by Jess Mowry
* When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
* Bad Land by Jonathan Raban
* Rabbit Boss by Thomas Sanchez
* The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
* The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

How We Can Help

There are a number of ways Vintage and Anchor Books help support One Book, One Community reading programs around the country. From contacting authors to providing poster and bookmark templates, we can help provide the materials and information you need.

* Author Information/Liaison: Once you have chosen a book, we can contact the author on your behalf and provide biographical information. Queries should be directed to Russell Perreault, Publicity Director, or call 212-572-2080.

* Graphics: We can provide an electronic poster template picturing the author and the book cover. Project organizers can customize the design, adding their own logos, messages, etc. A bookmark template is also available. Individual author photos and book cover files are available for flyers and signage. Queries to Roz Parr, Marketing Director, or call 212-940-7865.

* Ordering Books: So that we can make sure books are readily available, please let us know as early as possible how many books you will need and when. Queries to Roz Parr.

* Discussion Guides: Over 325 Vintage and Anchor reading group guides are available, all formatted for easy printing. Browse our complete list. For educational resources and to download Teacher’s Guides, visit our Academic Resources site. High school teachers, click here.

On-line Resources

Visit these Web sites to find out more information about One Book, One Community programs across the country.

* For more about the books published by Vintage Books & Anchor Books (we have over 3,500 active titles), go to and

* The American Library Association Public Programs office has created a 44-page guide called One Book, One Community: Planning Your Community-Wide Read. Click here to download it in PDF form from their Web site. Also produced by the ALA is a One Book, One Community CD, available for purchase from the ALA Online Store.

* The Library of Congress maintains a complete listing of past and current One Book projects, organized both by location and by author. Visit their Web site to browse the list. It includes links to individual project Web-sites.

* Additional how-to information is available online from the Seattle Public Library and the Chicago Public Library.