On February 1, 2017, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment launched One Book, One New York, a novel campaign designed to bring book-loving New Yorkers together through reading one great book at the same time. The program began with a public voting period where New Yorkers were invited to choose one of five books for the city to read as one.
The outpouring of enthusiasm for this program was immediate and is ongoing. From the moment when MOME blanketed the City with ads in subways and bus shelters, and Taxi TV featured celebrity videos made with partner BuzzFeed, #OneBookNY has trended on social media, and people throughout the five boroughs and beyond have joined the conversation.
In March, MOME announced the choice was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an epic, international love story with powerful insights into timely topics like immigration, race and identity.
Book clubs sprang up all over the city: from Miss Kavanaugh’s after-school club with students and teachers in the library of Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn, to a group of women inmates at Rikers Island who have been gathering every week to read and discuss Americanah with the help of a teaching artist from Columbia Teachers College. New Yorkers went to their neighborhood libraries and local bookstores to pick up a copy, with Penguin Random House supplying all 219 library branches with 1500 copies of Americanah, all of which were checked out. At the eight Barnes and Noble stores in the City, sales of Americanah increased by 400%, with another huge bump in the foot traffic to local independent bookstores from Shakespeare and Company on the Upper East Side to Green Light bookstore in Brooklyn. New Yorkers flocked to One Book events at the Schomburg Library, the Apollo Theatre and more.
On June 5th, the One Book, One New York program culminated at the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in the Celeste Bartos Forum. Five hundred people packed the room to hear author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discuss Americanah with Buzzfeed Books Editor Isaac Fitzgerald, Condola Rashad read an excerpt. Adichie produced startling insights. Everyone was on the same page.
We encourage all New Yorkers to form their own book clubs and community events as part of One Book, One New York. Penguin Random House has provided a discussion guide to enhance conversation around Americanah, and to highlight key themes and passages throughout the book. Access the discussion guide here.