RE: Omaha Reads campaign -- why only 5 choices? I vote "none of the above trash". Why not include non-fiction, maybe as a second category? Why not leave it open-ended -- i.e., ANY book?
Who would waste time reading these 5 trashy books?
Thank you for your comment.
I will try below to address your concern. Also, in the course of trying to give full information, I'll try to make the case about why the titles might not be 'trash.'
Every year for Omaha Reads, the library invites the public to nominate their favorite books either at their local branch or on our website. This is the opportunity to nominate literally any title, fiction or nonfiction, that you wish. This year, that period was February 12th through March 2nd.
The suggestions are then tabulated by library staff. At this point we look at not only the most popular suggestions, but also try to fill in the list to present a final grouping that hopefully has a wide range of appeal and subject matter. In other words, they're not all one type of book.
This year, that resulted in the following 5 titles, including one nonfiction book like you suggested. I've added a description to each which hopefully helps explain how it made the list:
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Those who are only familiar with the movies will be surprised at the emotional depth of this Gothic literary classic. With the subtitle that many don't know of The Modern Prometheus, much of the book is told from the monster's perspective. Unlike in most of the movies, the monster proves himself to be a very intelligent, sympathetic character, who tries to join society but is ultimately rejected by his creator and the rest of humanity.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
This story of Starr Carter, a 16-year old African American girl who goes to a predominately white private school, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend at the hands of a white police officer. Far from a one-note story, this timely book, written for teens, presents well-rounded, believable characters that the reader will end up caring about. It made the 2017 National Book Award Longlist, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was an American Library Association 2018 Printz Honor book as well as winning the ALA's 2018 Morris Award, which the honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens.
The Kings of Broken Things, by Theodore Wheeler
Set during the race riots in Omaha right at the end of World War I, this book tells the story of three people all from widely different backgrounds, as they try to make their way in a town that is toxic with political corruption, racism, and xenophobia. Wheeler tells their tale against the real historical backdrop of actual events, and in the course paints a vivid picture of a less-than-proud moment in Omaha's history.
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
Winner of the Man Booker Prize, this is easily the most surreal title on this list. Saunders uses the historical fact of the early death of Abraham Lincoln's son, Willie, as a jumping-off point. The grieving Lincoln's visit spurs the restless spirits of the graveyard to re-examine their own lives, and the nature of death and one's final reward. This first novel by a short story master gives a melancholy, kaleidoscopic (and yes, surreal) look at the mores of the nation at the time of the Civil War.
A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor, by Joe Starita
This nonfiction title by a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist tells the true story of the first Native American woman to get a medical degree. This is the story of a woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, and then spent the rest of her life using a unique bi-cultural identity to improve the lot of her people physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually.
I hope this gives more insight as to how these titles were chosen. Hopefully, at least one of the above titles will appeal to most people. And please, look for the ballots early next year so you can propose your own favorites! Thank you once again for your comment.