For the past 11 years, the Daniel Boone Regional Library has sponsored the One READ program, a community-wide reading program that spans both the Columbia and Callaway County Public Libraries, as well as local bookstores and colleges.
After deliberating over more than 140 suggested titles from the public, the reading panel in charge of selecting the final two books has released this year's titles: "The Call," by Yannick Murphy and "The Ruins of Us," by Keija Parssinen. Public voting for the final book opened on April 8, and will run through April 26.
"The Call" is an account of a New England veterinarian's life through log-entries, and his reflections on his life, his family and the world around him. "The Ruins of Us" is about an American woman whose family lives in Saudi Arabia, and the ensuing complications that occur when her son decides to join a radical religious group.
"There are a lot of similar programs that out there where the book is already chosen," said Sherry McBride-Brown, member of the One READ task force and regional youth outreach services coordinator and adult services librarian at the Callaway County Public Library. "But how we get the community involved with selecting the book is unique."
Community members are encouraged to submit suggestions throughout the year, and a final push for suggestions is usually made around September. During the winter months, the reading panel - made up of local readers of all ages, education levels and backgrounds - review each book.
In January, they meet and vote to narrow down the list to 10. For the next 10 weeks, each panel member reads those final 10 books, and then another vote is taken, leaving the top two or three books.
Past finalists have included "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "The Whistling Season" by Ivan Doig and last year's selection, "The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obreht.
"We want to pick something approachable," said Doyne McKenzie, collections manager for the Daniel Boone Regional Library, and co-chair for One READ, "so that someone will want to pick it up and read it. We also want something that's discussible, and has lots of subjects within it."
Both McKenzie and McBride-Brown emphasized that the goal of the selected book is to invoke discussion within the community, for both readers and non-readers.
"It's a great way to encourage people to read," McBride-Brown said. "People like to read things they're told to read. They love taking suggestions."
In addition to getting the community involved though book selection, there are also a series of events that take place in tandem with the themes and subjects contained within the book. In the past, this has included panel discussions, art, music, films, and if he or she is available, a discussion with the author.
"There are so many facets to this program, and how we can tie the community to the book through programs is just one of them," McBride-Brown said.