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One Book One Northwestern started out as a quarter-long program for new students in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Over the years it evolved to include the entire campus with many participating departments and schools.

A list of previous selections and links to coordinating websites are listed below.

2022-23 "How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America," by Clint Smith

Faculty Chair: Leslie Harris, Professor of History at the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

In the 2022-23 One Book selection, How the Word Is Passed, Clint Smith guides the reader through an intergenerational story of slavery in America and how it has shaped the nation to this day. Using historical research and interviews with ordinary people in historic sites, Smith paints a picture of history not typically taught in school and explores people's contemporary — often inaccurate — understanding of it. 

View content from the 2022-2023 One Book selection

2021-22 "The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go From Here," by Hope Jahren

Faculty Chair: William "Bill" Miller, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Director of the Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

This book addresses what many have called the critical decade for addressing climate change. Our planet faces the dual crises of rapid climate change and biodiversity loss. Tremendous advances in healthcare, sanitation, agricultural productivity, energy production and technological innovation allowed the population to reach more than 7 billion. However, growth has resulted in environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, a rapid rise in greenhouse gas levels leading to global temperature increases and sea-level rise, and widespread disparities in access to resources across the US and worldwide. We need to ensure that populations already experiencing disproportionate impacts from climate change are not further disadvantaged by the policies implemented for adaptation and mitigation, and "use less and share more."

View content from the 2021-2022 One Book selection

2020-21 "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" by Bryan Stevenson

Faculty Chair: Jennifer Lackey, the Director of the Northwestern Prison Education Program and the Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy

"Just Mercy" challenges us to examine and confront the systemic racism, inequities, and moral failures of the United States criminal justice system. Perhaps now more than ever, Stevenson's voice needs to be heard. But Stevenson calls us forward to a better, fairer world—one that is more just in being more merciful. As a nation, we can divest from the systems that have led to this national crisis and invest in the values that will truly make our communities flourish, such as education, healthcare, and support services. As we read Just Mercy together this year, let's accept Stevenson's invitation to rethink what justice demands and, in so doing, to reimagine what is possible.

View content from the 2020-2021 One Book selection

2019-2020 "Hidden Figures, the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly

Faculty Co-Chairs: Associate Professor, Molecular Biosciences Heather Pinkett and Dean of Graduate school Teresa Woodruff

"Hidden Figures" is the true story of the black women mathematicians at NASA who helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space. In the book, Shetterly celebrates these unsung heroes, teasing out issues of race, gender, science and innovation against the backdrop of WWII and the Civil Rights Era.

View content from the 2019-20 One Book selection

2018-19: "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

Faculty Chair: English Professor Helen Thompson

Margaret Atwood's book, The Handmaid's Tale, a gripping and chillingly relevant vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution. The book won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. The book has been adapted into a 1990 film, a 2000 opera, a HULU television series – now in its third season, 2019 graphic novel and other media.

In 2018, Atwood announced that a sequel novel, "The Testaments", will be published in 2019.

View content from the 2018-19 One Book selection

2017-18: "Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality” by Danielle Allen

Faculty Chair: Associate Professor, History Gerald Cadava

Danielle Allen's book,Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality is a winner of the Zócalo Book Prize and the Society of American Historians' Francis Parkman Prize. Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Our Declaration is already regarded as a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text.

View content from the 2017-18 One Book selection

2016-17: "The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don't” by Nate Silver

Faculty Chair: Materials Science and Engineering Professor Stephen Carr

Nate Silver's book, The Signal and The Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail — But Some Don't, is a New York Times bestseller. It is a tour of modern prediction science, uncovering a surprising connection among humility, uncertainty, and good results.

View content from the 2016-17 One Book selection

2015-16: "The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America” by Thomas King

Faculty Chair: Journalism Professor and former Dean of Medill Loren Ghiglione

Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian offers a penetrating, provocative look at the history of North American Indian-white relations in North America. It focuses on government efforts to remove and relocate Native peoples and white efforts to exterminate and assimilate them. It contrasts popular perceptions of what King calls "Dead Indians," the romantic reminders of a largely fictional past ("dignified, noble, silent, suitably garbed"), and "Live Indians," contemporary and contemptible ("invisible, unruly, disappointing").

View content from the 2015-16 One Book selection

2014-15: "Whistling Vivaldi" by Claude Steele

Faculty Chair: Communication Professor Harvey Young

In Whistling Vivaldi, Steele looks back on his 30-year career investigating the impact of social biases and prejudices on everyday life. Finding that stereotypes can influence behavior and affect performance, he shares important strategies that may prove helpful in lessening their negative effects.

View content from the 2014-15 One Book selection

2013-14: "Last Hunger Season" by Roger Thurow

Coordinated by the Roberta Buffet Center for International and Comparative Studies
Faculty Chair: Brian Hanson, Director of Programs, Research & Strategic Planning, Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies

The book chronicles a year in the life of four small-scale farmers in western Kenya who, with help from a social enterprise organization founded by a Kellogg School of Management graduate, begin to transcend the cyclical poverty and hunger that they have always known.

View content from the 2013-14 One Book selection

2012-13: "Never A City So Real" by Alex Kotlowitz

Coordinated by Center for Civic Engagement
Faculty Chair: Professor, School of Education and Social Policy Dan A. Lewis

Through a collection of vignettes about Chicago's diverse people and neighborhoods, the book gives readers a much richer understanding of the city.

View content from the 2012-13 One Book selection

2011-12: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

Coordinated by NU Ventures in Biological Education
Faculty Chair: Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology and Associate Vice President for Research, Linda Hicke

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman who unknowingly became one of the most important figures in modern medical research.

View content from the 2011-12 One Book selection

2010-11: "Mountains Beyond Mountains," by Tracy Kidder

Coordinated by the Center for Civic Engagement
Faculty Chair: Professor, School of Education and Social Policy Dan A. Lewis

"Mountains Beyond Mountains" tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard-educated physician who has spent much of his life working in Haiti and other impoverished countries.

View content from the 2010-11 One Book selection

2009-10: "Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman

Coordinated by the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN)
Co-Chairs: Andy Jacobson, Assistant Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Bridget Calendo, Director of Operations, (ISEN)

"Hot, Flat, and Crowded" considers several timely and compelling topics important to humankind and the natural world, including climate change, economics, globalization, sustainability and health.

View content from the 2009-10 One Book selection

2008-09: "The Reluctant Mr. Darwin" by David Quarmmen

Coordinated by Interdisciplinary Committee on Evolutionary Processes (ICEP)
Faculty Chair: Professor Teresa Horton, Biology – Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

To coincide with Charles Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species," One Book organizers selected David Quammen's 2006 Darwin biography.

View content from the 2008-09 One Book selection

2007-08: "Go Tell it on the Mountain" by James Baldwin

Coordinated by the American Studies Program
Co-Chairs: Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Gender & Sexuality Studies; Assistant Dean for Freshmen Lane Fenrich and Associate Professor of English Jay Grossman

James Baldwin's 1953 first novel examines the role Christian religion in the lives of African-Americans. It was the center of eight weeks of readings, theatrical and musical performances, seminars and lectures.

2006-07: "Othello" by William Shakespeare

Coordinated by the Department of English
Faculty Chair: Professor of English Wendy Wall

The first year the whole campus was invited to participate, the One Book program selected William Shakespeare's tragedy, "Othello."

2005-06: Antigone by Sophocles

Coordinated by the College of Arts and Sciences
Faculty Chair: Professor of English Reginald Gibbons

The first year of One Book One Northwestern was aimed at incoming WCAS students, and each received a copy of the tragedy "Antigone," by Greek playwright Sophocles.