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The OneBook Project began at CRC in Fall 2010; here is the list of books selected during each academic year.

Just Mercy (2019-2021)

Just Mercy - A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy bookcover

Join us as we study social justice and redemption through inspiring lectures, discussions, and activities designed to inspire our thinking about problems and solutions we face in this world.

Enrich your engagement with the text and/or plan class activities by using the videos, links, discussion questions and other resources on our Just Mercy Canvas page.

About the Author

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (Links to an external site.) in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

About the Equal Justice Initiative

The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. Founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and bestselling author of Just Mercy, EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. EJI challenges the death penalty and excessive punishment and provides re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people.

About Walter McMillian

Walter McMillian, who is black, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a young white woman who worked as a clerk in a dry cleaning store in Monroeville, Alabama. Mr. McMillian was held on death row prior to being convicted and sentenced to death. His trial lasted only a day and a half. Three witnesses testified against Mr. McMillian and the jury ignored multiple alibi witnesses, who were black, who testified that he was at a church fish fry at the time of the crime. The trial judge overrode the jury’s sentencing verdict for life and sentenced Mr. McMillian to death.

Check out copies from the CRC Library.

The Book of Joy (2018-2019)

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Book of Joy bookcover

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression.

This book explores a week of conversations between these two giants as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death.

They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science.

Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.

More about The Book of Joy.

"The Urban Monk Podcast" with guest Douglas Carlton Abrams, editor of The Book of Joy

Ruby (2017-2018)

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby bookcover

"Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love."

About the Author

Cynthia Bond is a New York Times Best-Selling Author. Her novel Ruby was chosen to be an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and an Indie Next Pick. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Bond attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, then moved to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She founded the Blackbird Writing Collective in 2011. Cynthia has taught writing to at-risk and homeless youth for over fifteen years, and is on staff at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center.

More about the author and Ruby.

Interview with Cynthia Bond by CRC Librarian Emily Bond on March 14, 2018 in the CRC Recital Hall

Last Child in the Woods (2016-2017)

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods bookcover

"In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard."

More about the author and Last Child in the Woods.

Author Richard Louv interviewed by Cosumnes River College student Nick Kopp

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies (2015-2016)

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies by Seth M. Holmes

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies bookcover

This book is an ethnographic witness to the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants. Based on 5 years of research in the field (including berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca up the West Coast), Holmes, an anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, uncovers how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care.

Holmes’ material is visceral and powerful—for instance, he trekked with his informants illegally through the desert border into Arizona, where they were apprehended and jailed by the Border Patrol. After he was released from jail (and his companions were deported back to Mexico), Holmes interviewed Border Patrol agents, local residents and armed vigilantes in the borderlands.

He lived with indigenous Mexican families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the United States, planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals, participated in healing rituals, and mourned at funerals for friends. The result is a ‘thick description’ that conveys the full measure of struggle, suffering and resilience of these farmworkers."

From "Selected Works of Seth M. Holmes, PhD, MD." Selected Works. BE Press, 2014. Web. 8 July 2015

More about the author and Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.

A Discussion with Seth M. Holmes, Francisco Ventura M, and Elio Santos on March 31, 2016

Bottlemania (2014-2015)

Bottlemania by Elizabeth Royte

Bottlemania bookcover

Bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. But what’s the cost of all this water—for us and for the environment?

In this eye-opening book, Elizabeth Royte does for water what Michael Pollan did for food: She examines the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that surround it on its journey from distant aquifers to our supermarkets and homes. She looks at the various sources of drinking water (including the embattled Maine town that Poland Spring exports from), the chemicals we dump into it to make it potable, and the real differences between tap and bottled.

This is the story of one of the greatest marketing coups of the twentieth century—and one of the most troubling issues facing our environment today. With a new afterword on the developing issues in clean water around the world.

More about the author and Bottlemania.

The Omnivore's Dilemma (2013-2014)

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma bookcover

Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves?

The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, as the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species.

Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore's Dilemma is changing the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.

More about the author and The Omnivore's Dilemma.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2012-2013)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks bookcover

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance.

This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. 

More about the author and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

I Do Not Come To You By Chance (2011-2012)

I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Abaobi Tricia Nwaubani

I Do Not Come To You By Chance bookcover

I Do Not Come To You By Chance is the story of young Kingsley Ibo - a Nigerian man who has just completed his education and is looking for work so that he can begin supporting his family members who are struggling through hard times. With no job opportunities available, Kingsley gets caught up in the lucrative world of Internet crime. This book is part coming of age story, part ethical dilemma, funny and very interesting. You get a unique look at life in Nigeria and Internet crime (from the other side of the computer).

Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges - a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibilities, too. But times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola, the sugar in Kingsley's tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply; he cannot afford her bride price.

It hasn't always been like this. For much of his young life, Kingsley believed that education was everything, that through wisdom, all things were possible. Now he worries that without a "long-leg" - someone who knows someone who can help him - his degrees will do nothing but adorn the walls of his parents' low-rent house. And when a tragedy befalls his family, Kingsley learns the hardest lesson of all: education may be the language of success in Nigeria, but it's money that does the talking.

Unconditional family support may be the way in Nigeria, but when Kingsley turns to his Uncle Boniface for help, he learns that charity may come with strings attached. Boniface - aka Cash Daddy - is an exuberant character who suffers from elephantiasis of the pocket. He's also rumored to run a successful empire of email scams. But he can help. With Cash Daddy's intervention, Kingsley and his family can be as safe as a tortoise in its shell.

It's up to Kingsley now to reconcile his passion for knowledge with his hunger for money, and to fully assume his role of first son. But can he do it without being drawn into this outlandish milieu?

More about the author and I Do Not Come To You By Chance.

The Latehomecomer (2010-2011)

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

The Latehomecomer bookcover

In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. Driven to tell her family’s story after her grandmother’s death, The Latehomecomer is Kao Kalia Yang’s tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. It is also an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.

Beginning in the 1970s, as the Hmong were being massacred for their collaboration with the United States during the Vietnam War, Yang recounts the harrowing story of her family’s captivity, the daring rescue undertaken by her father and uncles, and their narrow escape into Thailand where Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp.

When she was six years old, Yang’s family immigrated to America, and she evocatively captures the challenges of adapting to a new place and a new language. Through her words, the dreams, wisdom, and traditions passed down from her grandmother and shared by an entire community have finally found a voice.

Together with her sister, Kao Kalia Yang is the founder of a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. A graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University, Yang has recently screened The Place Where We Were Born, a film documenting the experiences of Hmong American refugees.

More about the author and The Latehomecomer.