Chelmsford: On The Same Page

Are we all on the same page in Chelmsford? Not yet — but we will be! Nominations for the “One Book-Chelmsford” community-wide reading program have been arriving daily — by paper ballot and via our website, The choices are as wide-ranging, unique and opinionated as Chelmsford residents themselves. So it is no surprise that as of yet, there is no clear consensus of opinion. We are a community blessed with diversity and the nominations reflect that. If you haven’t nominated a title yet, you still have time. To date, we have collected over 100 nominations and expect many more to come in before the October 16th deadline.

The nominations so far include fiction and non-fiction, mysteries, science fiction, children’s books and memoirs. Many New England authors such as Chris Bohjalian, Jodi Picoult, John Irving, Archer Mayor, Linda Greenlaw and Stephen King have been highlighted. The nominations also include many Massachusetts authors such as Anita Shreve, Elinor Lipman, Alice Hoffman, Andre Dubus III, Tracy Kidder and local author Richard Rotelli. They also include Massachusetts settings like Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake,” Roland Merullo’s “In Revere in Those Days,” Meghan Marshall’s “The Peabody Sisters” and Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River.”

Classics such as Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” have made the list. Books with area connections were nominated including Lowell resident, Jack Kerouac’s defining novel of the Beat Generation, “On the Road” and Katherine Paterson’s “Lyddie” a tale of a young girl working in the mills of Lowell.

Book club favorites such as “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel and “The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-time” by Mark Haddon received several mentions. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer — two quirkier book club selections that work well for discussion also made the list.

Small town depictions got the green light from some folks as Russell Banks “The Sweet Hereafter,” Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls” and Sinclair Lewis’ “Main Street” all garnered votes.

Some voters were more enthusiastic than others, with one child nominating the same book eight times – (All the nominations were in the same ballot box and the handwriting was exactly the same) The choice -“Eragon” – a swashbuckling tale filled with magic stones, dragons and battle scenes was written by Christopher Paolini while in his teens. – It is an impressive accomplishment for a young author and will be released as a major motion picture in December.

Other youth-oriented titles that would be great to share as a family read-aloud include: “Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke, “Hoot” by Carl Hiassen, “Whirligig” by Paul Fleishman, “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Munoz Ryan, “Star Girl” by Jerry Spinelli, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s “Peter and the Starcatchers,” Lois Lowry’s “The Giver,” and Wilson Rawls -“Where the Red Fern Grows.”

Memoir/biography nominations included “John Adams” by David McCullough, “The Color of Water” by James McBride, “Funny in Farsi” by Firoozeh Dumas, and the still popular “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. Non-fiction titles included the provocative “End of Nature” by Bill McKibben, the classic “Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, and the ambitious “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond. “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore and Jonathan Harr’s “The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece” both also had several votes.

As the committee sorts through the votes and comes up with a final ballot for Election Day, November 7th, several criteria will be considered. In keeping with the spirit of the grant that the library received from the MA Board of Library Commissioners, we will focus on pleasure reading and drawing in new readers. Titles chosen will most likely be fewer than 400 pages, available in paperback and will lend themselves to companion programming. The committee is focusing on choosing a slate of “One Book” candidates that will have broad community appeal, be enjoyable to read, and be worth talking about.

All it takes to nominate a title is to go online to the library’s website and click on the ‘One Town’ logo. That will bring you to the ballot. The deadline to nominate a title is October 16th. So many books so little time — Nominate your choice today!