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Help pick Maryland's "One Book"

The Maryland Humanities Council is preparing for the second One Maryland One Book program, which is designed to get folks across the state reading the same book and discussing civil rights, multi-culturalism and related issues.

The book for 2008 was Ron Suskind’s A Hope in the Unseen, a non-fiction account of a Washington, D.C., teen who wants to get a good education and break out of tough neighborhood. During the fall, the council sponsored discussions at schools and libraries across Maryland – sort of a statewide book club.

Now the council is in the process of choosing the 2009 book from a list of 10. I’m part of the group that will help make the selection, and for my "homework" I’ll read The Color of Water by James McBride and deliver a short presentation. Others under consideration are: Song Yet Sung by McBride; The Reappearance of Sam Webber by Jonathon Scott Fuqua; The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; Gifted Hands by Ben Carson; The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini; Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat; The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri; Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama; and Digging to America by Anne Tyler.

That’s a strong list; it will be tough to pick just one book. So, I thought I’d throw it open to a broader audience for comment. Let me know what you thought of The Color of Water or any of the others listed.

The council wants a book that will appeal to high school students as well as adults, and will spark discussions about "race, identity, civil rights or multicultural experiences in Maryland and America." To weigh in, just post a comment.

I’ll share your thoughts with the selection committee when we meet in early January. And I’ll keep you posted as the field is narrowed and the 2009 program takes shape.

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