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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.