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  • 2023 “One Book, One Island” Winner Announcement

    2023 “One Book, One Island” Winner Announcement
    The Nantucket Atheneum is delighted to announce the winner of the “One Book, One Island”(OBOI) Community Read. Hundreds participated in an exciting race and a tight competition until yesterday’s  final push. Our winning OBOI title, The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, was the Nantucket Book Foundation’s entry and is a 272 page National Book Award Finalist described by Kirkus Reviews as “a fascinating glimpse into an alien consciousness.”

    What’s Next?
    The Atheneum and other participating organizations will purchase and offer the winning title for free, to be distributed from a variety of island locations starting late January. The Atheneum will also offer free programs and discussions to be held in March and invites other organizations to create free programming in honor of this 2023 OBOI selection. Learn more in January about the book giveaway and related events at www.nantucketatheneum.org

    Who Entered?
    The Nantucket Atheneum thanks all entrants for their submissions: Yesterday’s Island/Today’s Nantucket, the Nantucket Historical Association, the Artists’ Association Nantucket, Team Annye Camara, and the Nantucket Book Foundation. While there can only be one 2023 OBOI, all of the suggested titles are worth checking out.

    Why a Community Read?
    OBOI is one of many Community Reads around the country, geared to connect our communities over the discussion of a good book. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “Reading for pleasure reduces stress, heightens empathy, improves students’ test scores, slows the onset of dementia, and makes us more active and aware citizens.” We asked our participating teams to consider the following selection criteria, established over 15 years ago by OBOI's founding Librarian and organizations.

    Criteria of a Great Selection:
    • has broad appeal for community discussion
    • fosters enjoyment of reading
    • is accessible and affordable
    • is available in diverse languages and/or formats

    What Were the Entries?
    SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS: a Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery (recommended by the NANTUCKET BOOK FOUNDATION)
    Our WINNER, 27.7% of the vote


    HORSE by Geraldine Brooks (recommended by the ARTISTS' ASSOCIATION NANTUCKET)

    STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel (recommended by YESTERDAY'S ISLAND/TODAY'S NANTUCKET)

    PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (recommended by TEAM ANNYE CAMARA)

    CHESHIRE CROSSING by: Andy Weir (recommended by the NANTUCKET ATHENEUM)

    More about the winning title: Soul of an Octopus
    Naturalist Montgomery (Birdology, 2010, etc.) chronicles her extraordinary experience bonding with three octopuses housed in the New England Aquarium and the small group of people who became devoted to them. As a casual visitor to the aquarium, she had been intrigued by the sense that the octopuses, invertebrates separated from us by millions of years on the tree of life, she watched were also watching her. “Was it possible,” she writes, “to reach another mind on the other side of the divide?” Their appendages are covered with “dexterous, grasping suckers” that propel food into mouths located in their armpits, and they savor the taste of food as it travels along their skin. This ability is one of the ways in which they perceive their environment. On her first behind-the-scenes visit to the aquarium, Montgomery was given the opportunity to directly interact with Athena, a 2 1/2-year-old, 40-pound octopus housed in a 560-gallon tank. Hosted by the aquarium's director of public relations, with other personnel on standby to ensure her safety, the author was encouraged to place her hand in the tank. Though Athena possessed the strength to pull Montgomery into the tank, she was gentle and even playful. The author describes the thrill of this and subsequent encounters with Athena and two other octopuses housed at the aquarium. They recognized and openly welcomed her visits, soliciting petting and stroking as might a house pet in similar circumstances. Octopuses seemingly relate easily to humans, quickly learning to pick up cues from their keepers, who make a game of hiding food, and in turn play tricks on them. Yet in the wild, they are generally solitary and may attack and eat others of their species if placed in the same tank. With apparent delight, Montgomery puts readers inside the world of these amazing creatures. – Kirkus Reviews


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