A warning to all New Yorkers: If everyone on the subway seems to be reading the same book this spring, you’re not going crazy.
New York City residents have picked “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the winning book for the “One Book, One New York” programme.
The programme encourages all city residents to read the same book over the next several months, in an effort to revitalise small bookstores and create a greater sense of community among the city’s readers. The city has also donated 1,000 copies of Americanah to branches of the New York Public Library (NYPL) for readers to check out.
Small meet ups will take place throughout the city, culminating in a June event at the NYPL’s main branch, where Adichie will be present.
The initiative allowed New Yorkers in all five boroughs to vote on one of five books to start reading in the month of March. Residents voted online or in kiosks in subway stations through the end of February.
Other cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia have hosted community reads in the past, though none have created as large a book club as New York now might.
In partnership with Buzzfeed, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment turned to those other cities to suggest books for people to read. It also consulted with heads of local libraries, publishers, and academics, the New York Times reports.
The shortlist offered five choices: “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Sellout” by Paul Beatty, “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith, and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz.
As the Times reported, the five books’ publishers each donated 4,000 copies to more than 200 library branches around the city in preparation for the final vote.
“Americanah,” Adichie’s third novel, is about a young Nigerian woman grappling with issues of race in the US. It was widely regarded as one of the best books of 2013.