Hamilton reading program returns with Olympic rowing book and month of events

Hamilton’s One City One Book community reading program will be returning to the city in October for its third consecutive year.

The program includes a featured book and a series of activities to support understanding and enjoyment of the topic. This year’s selected book is “Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown, a New York Times Best-Seller and inspiration to a PBS documentary, “The Boys of ‘36.”

Heavily involved community members Honi Cohen and Niki Motley started the month-long community event in 2017 with inspiration from the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, which has been showcased in Dayton and Columbus.

“We made a committee decision for which book to choose this year, everyone has input,” Cohen said. “This book is really a super book.”

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With the Great Miami River running through the city, Motley said that this book relates to the area’s Great Miami Rowing Center and its efforts to teach about the history of the sport.

“The rowing community is a big part of Hamilton and that’s why we decided this book,” said Motley, who added that the center will be giving two free rowing sessions to all attendees who come to any event.

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Alongside its partnership with the Great Miami Rowing Center, One City One Book has partnered with Miami University-Hamilton and the Lane Libraries. This year’s celebration will have two to three events per week with the goal of promoting “interesting discussions through books.”

Cohen said that there will be fewer events than previous years, which the committee thought would be a better way to encourage participation.

“We would rather have less events with more attendance,” Cohen said. “We want all of our events to be exciting.”

Among the highlights is an appearance by keynote speaker Bryce Carlson, who became the first American to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 2018. Carlson, a biology teacher at the Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, will speak on Oct. 21 at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.

On Oct. 2, Dan Beery, a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist, will also be speaking at the Fitton Center. Beery won gold in the men’s eight crew in a time of 5 minutes, 19 seconds, which was a world record at the time.

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In total, 350 hardcover copies of the book will be distributed to businesses in Hamilton’s 17 neighborhoods. Motley said that 75 will be sent Hamilton High School and 50 will go to Badin High School.

These books were purchased with money received through Hamilton’s 17 Strong micro-grant program. Additional copies of the book were purchased by the Lane Libraries, which are available to the public for free.

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