For the 18th year, the Richardson Public Library is bringing residents together with the draw of a story. Readers never outgrow the benefits of literacy, and Richardson Reads One Book helps ensure that reading continually enriches the lives of residents.

Author William Kent Krueger

Inspired by the national One Book program, Richardson Reads One Book (RROB) began in 2004. With the help of community partners, the program has not only encouraged readership, but has brought in renowned authors annually.

Each fall, RROB board members, some of whom have been part of the program for many years and are elected during an annual RROB meeting, begin reviewing a stack of fiction and nonfiction books for consideration for the following year. By January, the group has narrowed down their selection to a handful of options. The board votes on book finalists and reveals the work in the spring.

Criteria for the chosen book includes broad appeal, about a seventh-grade reading level and universal issues that provoke thought. Ideally, books are available in paperback, large-print and audio formats, as well as in other languages. The author must also agree to come for a community event and author’s luncheon.

Residents may check out the year’s chosen book from the Library or purchase their own copy. Participants can read on their own or take part in a number of book clubs. RISD high school students read the book as well. The group dynamic helps make each book come alive, said Vrena Patrick, Assistant Director of Library Services.

“The chosen book pulls people together to read and to be able to discuss a topic,” she said. “Everyone can have different opinions, but that is part of the fun of discussion. We’re all able to find a common thread.”

Richardson resident Carol Claunch has participated in RROB since 2011 and has served as cohost of the RROB luncheon annually. She calls her book club days her favorite days of the month.

“I am so excited about this year’s author, William Kent Krueger. He is a brilliant writer. I loved both “Ordinary Grace” and “This Tender Land.” I was disappointed when last year’s event had to be postponed,” she said. “Writers are true celebrities to me. I get my books signed each year, and I have a special shelf in my personal library for my RROB selections. I think the City of Richardson has one of the finest public libraries in the country. The RROB program is an example of what makes our library exceptional.”

Getting to hear in person from the acclaimed authors of a book they just enjoyed is a highlight for many RROB participants.

“All of our past authors are some of the biggest names on bestseller lists,” Patrick said. “I think residents really enjoy hearing more about the author’s experience, and they can talk to the author if they stay for the book-signing.”

Until 2020, each author came to Richardson in the fall. Last year’s event, featuring William Kent Krueger’s “This Tender Land,” could not be held due to the pandemic. Participants will still be able to hear from Krueger, since his novel, “Ordinary Grace,” was chosen as the 2021 RROB selection.

Selected books have often included diversity in age, experience, time in history, ethnicity, country, religion, perspective, circumstances and challenges. The stories foster contemplation, empathy and understanding, and Patrick emphasizes the importance of community support in making RROB possible.

“It’s a point of pride that we don’t charge for any program, so we depend entirely on community support for a program that reaches about 2,000 people annually,” she said. “We have quite a variety of donors–from organizations to individuals.”

A free public lecture with author William Kent Krueger is planned for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14. Please check for the location. Free tickets are available at the Richardson Public Library first-floor information desk.

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