Adams County Reads One Book
Join other readers in Adams County for lively, intellectual conversation based on our shared reading experience.
Each year, we announce the title in late June or early July, and stock copies in paperback, large print and audio book formats. Throughout October, we hold One Book programs such as book discussions, lectures and film screenings throughout the community. All programs are free and open to all.
Next Year's One Book
A committee of library staff and community members select the year's title from a list of about 40 books. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let any staff member know!
2020 Selection: The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone
An eccentric millionaire. A brilliant woman. A world of espionage and codes and ciphers. Two world wars, more than a dozen dinner parties, a plethora of correspondence, and a legacy left hidden in archives and libraries for decades. All of these pieces describe this year’s Adams County Reads One Book selection, “The Woman Who Smashed Codes,” by Jason Fagone.
2019 Selection: What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson
New York City, 1888. A devastating blizzard envelops the city, killing hundreds of people. Heiress Prudence MacKenzie’s fiancé, Charles Linwood, is found after the blizzard, with an ace of spades playing card clutched in his fist. Despite reassurances from everyone that Charles died from the blizzard, Prudence is not convinced. There are too many unanswered questions, especially the significance of the playing card. Prudence’s desire for answers leads her into the underbelly of New York City, where dark secrets hover in the shadows. As Prudence, with the help of former Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, slowly uncovers the truth, she discovers how deadly and grisly the truth can truly be.
2018 Selection: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
Based on true events, Kline writes a beautifully touching and evocative story that shows an inspirational spark can happen even in the most ordinary of circumstances.
2017 Fiction Selection: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
This novel's unique structure introduces readers to individuals who have tangentially affected Eva's life. Each chapter, or vignette, is told by one of these individuals – her father, Lars; her cousin, Braque; a classmate, Will. Stradal weaves a chronological storyline using this structure, allowing Eva to blossom in the narrative. Readers not only learn how Eva's presence in their lives affected decisions and attitudes, but, more importantly, how each of these characters provides an opportunity for Eva to grow and to mature, even if their place in Eva's life is miniscule. At its heart, however, "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is a mother-daughter story. It speaks of the missed opportunities and surprises found in life, with a few recipes sprinkled through.
2017 Nonfiction Selection: The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown
Love and sorrow. Pain and grief. Hope and new beginnings. And, ultimately, survival. These phrases characterize this year’s Adams County Reads one Book Nonfiction Selection, “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride,” by Daniel James Brown.
Yes, the Donner Party. Most of us know very little about these individuals who set out for the Western territories and a better life in the 1840s – a brief mention in a long ago Social Studies grade school class led to not so colorful jokes and opinions about them. However, there is much more to the story. Unlike thousands of others who had the same dream, and made it to their final destination, the Donner Party had many setbacks. Doomed from the start, the Donner Party faced bad advice, bad timing, bad supplies, leaving them in complete isolation in a blizzard. Unequipped for the challenges ahead, the Donner Party faced the ultimate question…how can one survive in the wilderness with no resources? And, to the readers, what would you do in the same situation?
2016 Fiction Selection: Longbourn by Jo Baker
It is a re-imagined belowstairs answer to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” where the servants, not Elizabeth Bennet or Mr. Darcy, take center stage. While the marriage prospects of the Bennett sisters occupies the time of the family upstairs, downstairs the housekeeper, Mrs. Hill is hard at work managing the staff – young housemaids Sarah and Polly; butler Mr. Hill; and enigmatic new footman, James Smith - that keeps Longbourn running smoothly.
At the heart of this novel is a budding romance between James and Sarah, who is chafing at the boundaries set upon her by her place in society. When circumstances force James and Sarah to part, she is forced to deal with his complicated past and mysterious ties to Longbourn and the never-ending demands of the Bennet family.
2016 Nonfiction Selection: Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History by Ben Mezrich
How far would you go to impress someone? Would you break the law? Would you steal moon rocks from NASA?
Thad Roberts chooses a path that will ultimately change his life, and the lives of those in his inner circle, forever. The 2016 Adams County Reads One Book Nonfiction selection, Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich, chronicles Roberts’ decision to steal moon rocks from a NASA laboratory and sell them for millions.
2015 Fiction Selection: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox isn't your typical mother. To her family and the outside world, she's a mix of contradictions; an opinionated partner, a disgrace, crazy, a revolutionary architect, and finally, a best friend. Now, she's also missing.
It all begins when Bee, Bernadette's daughter, brings home her report card and claims her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. Bernadette's actions become increasingly erratic as the trip draws closer. At one point she writes to her virtual assistant, Manjula, "Of the million reasons I don't want to go to Antarctica, the main one is that it will require me to leave the house." But then, during an intervention planned by her husband, Bernadette disappears. Bee is left trying to piece together not only the mystery of her mother's descent from an award-winning architect to an agoraphobic, lost individual, but also her whereabouts.
2015 Nonfiction Selection: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
In this #1 New York Times bestseller, Larson tells the story of William E. Dodd, who accepts the US ambassadorship to Berlin and moves his family from Chicago to the German city in 1933. Dodd, a college professor and aspiring US history author, seems an unlikely choice as ambassador, living conservatively and refusing to abide by traditional practices of ostentatious soirees and gatherings. As Dodd copes with his new responsibilities, his spirited daughter Martha attends parties and society engagements and becomes entangled with some of the most powerful men in Hitler’s new German government. What at first seems like deep devotion by German countrymen to their new government begins to show troubling and disturbing realities to Dodd. Physical attacks increase on American citizens. Laws targeting segments of the German population start to shed light on Hitler’s true purposes in government. Dodd’s attempts to alert the US State Department about the growing terror and atrocities only elicit silence from the US Government. Meanwhile, Martha’s comradeship with various men in foreign governments leads her down a dangerous path that will change her life, and that of her family, forever.
2014: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Harold Fry is a shy, retired British brewery salesman. He receives a letter from a former coworker whom he hasn’t had any contact with in 20 years, Queenie Hennessey. This brief note sparks Harold to take an unplanned trek – to walk the 600 miles or so from his home in southern England to the hospice where Queenie is dying of cancer. Without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, Harold begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, he meets strangers who stir up memories and flashbacks – of when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, his inadequacy as a father and shortcomings as a husband.
2013: Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling account of James Garfield’s rise from poverty to the American presidency, and the dramatic history of his assassination and legacy.
2012: A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Surprised to find himself reborn as a golden-haired puppy after a short life as a stray mutt, Bailey decides that there must be a reason that he was reincarnated, a purpose that he must fulfill and that until he does so, he’ll continue to be reborn. His search for his life’s meaning leads him into the arms of 8-year-old Ethan where Bailey discovers how to be a good dog. But a long life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. He is reborn once again as a puppy and begins to wonder – will he ever find his purpose?
2011: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Closely based on Alexie’s own experiences growing up on the Spokane Reservation in Washington State, the novel overflows with truth, pain and black comedy amid cutting memories of daily life on the “rez.” The novel is an unforgettable portrait of living in harsh circumstances and the struggle to leave those circumstances behind.