Think of it as a book group for the whole city.
Each year, the Young Leadership Council’s literacy and community program, One Book, One New Orleans, selects one book and encourages the community to read and discuss it.
This year’s selection is “New Orleans Boom & Blackout: 100 Days in America’s Coolest Hotspot” by local writer Brian Boyles. He’ll read from the book at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cabildo, 701 Chartres St., and a discussion will follow.
“Normally, our literary and reading season begins in September, and we have about 10 weeks of events,” said Curry Smith, the executive director of the Young Leadership Council, “but because of the name of the book and its subtitle primarily, the project leaders in charge of this program thought it would be fun to do 100 days of one book. So we’re starting a little early this year with a kickoff, or what they’re calling a ‘preseason opener.’ ”
“New Orleans Boom & Blackout” centers on the 100 days surrounding the 2013 Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, famously marked by a 34-minute power outage in the third quarter. The game in the renovated dome was intended to be the crowning achievement in the recovery of the city from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the subsequent flooding.
The book was chosen through a selection committee comprised of one representative from each of their community partners, the executive director and president of the YLC, the project leaders, and book group members from around the city.
The YLC also coordinated a poll to see what the public thought of the selection. “New Orleans Boom & Blackout” enjoyed a resounding victory, with more than 60 percent of the vote.
To put as many books in New Orleanians’ hands as possible, One Book, One New Orleans partners with Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, Literacy Alliance of New Orleans, New Orleans Public Library, Books2Prisoners, WRBH Radio for the Blind, and Shell.
Shell has provided funding for the project for the past 11 years, making it possible this year for the YLC to buy 674 copies of “New Orleans Boom & Blackout.”
“When I joined the Young Leadership Council, I was really looking for a project that I felt could help improve the city at the broadest level because I just had a son and I really wanted to do something that would make the city a better place for him to grow up,” said Megan Holt, project leader of One Book, One New Orleans.
“I started looking at One New Orleans and thinking critically about the role literacy plays in our community. If you increase the literacy rate, you can decrease the crime rate, poverty rate and improve access to healthcare. And these are just a few of the benefits.”
There are many discussions and gatherings throughout the 100 days, which ends with a concert by TBC Brass Band at Celebration Hall Oct. 28.
Among them is an event at Dillard University titled “Lil’ Wayne and America’s Idea of New Orleans: A Panel Discussion.”
“It’s at Dillard, so I think it’s going to be a great mix of younger New Orleanians who are students and older New Orleanians, and I’m really looking forward to the conversation they’re going to have,” she said.
There will also be a conversation with service workers at Chris Owens’ club, 500 Bourbon St., Sept. 16.
Beginning Sept. 9, WRBH 88.3 Reading Radio will air readings of “New Orleans Boom & Blackout” Monday through Friday. The readings will air in the morning at 9 a.m. and in the evening at 7 p.m.
For a copy of the book, visit one of the branches of the New Orleans Public Library, or sign up for a class with the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans, which is designing a curriculum surrounding the book for the adult education and ESL classes.