Help Choose the Next Big Read Book

Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Vote September 1 - 30, 2017

Miami Valley residents are invited to cast their ballots September 1-30 to determine the next Big Read community reading book. A selection committee of local librarians and volunteers has narrowed the options to three finalists, and public vote determines the winner. Votes can be cast at public libraries, academic libraries, Books & Co., or online at The winning title will be announced at the end of October.

The Big Read is an annual spring community-wide reading project which encourages Miami Valley residents to read and talk about the same book. The three finalists for the Big Read 2018 are:

The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love

by Melissa Fay Greene (Nonfiction)

Written about 4 Paws for Ability, a nationally-recognized nonprofit agency based in Xenia, Ohio, The Underdogs tells the story of Karen Shirk, a woman who was told she was “too disabled” to be given a service dog. Despite being ventilator-dependent and immobile, she decided to raise and train her own therapy dog. In the process, she found many people, even children, get the same negative response when they apply for a service animal. Karen decided to train dogs for children with disabilities, and later veterans from recent conflicts who have developed PTSD or lost the use of limbs or hearing while in combat. After two decades and a thousand service dogs (and children) later, 4 Paws for Ability is the largest organization whose primary mission is to place service dogs with children. Author Melissa Fay Greene, a two-time National Book Award nominee, tells the stories of children and dogs who have been placed together, prisoners who help train the dogs, and veterans who benefit from service dogs. Each story proves that the unconditional love of a dog can change lives.

The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood (Fiction)

The classic dystopian novel follows the life and musings of the handmaid Offred, who lives in the rigidly structured and oppressive Republic of Gilead, once part of the United States. As a fertile young woman, she has only one job – to get pregnant and have a baby by an important man to whom she is assigned. With her basic rights and freedoms curtailed, she’s not allowed to read or write, drink coffee or alcohol, or even leave the Commander’s house on her own, and the rituals she endures are horrifying. But Offred remembers a time before, when she had a job, a husband, a daughter, and her own name. Originally published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale has recently been adapted into a TV series on Hulu.

Everything I Never Told You

by Celeste Ng (Fiction)

Told by alternating characters, Celeste Ng's acclaimed novel follows the Lee family before and after the mysterious death of Lydia, the middle child and stellar high school student who disappears one day and is later found at the bottom of a lake. Was she murdered? Did she commit suicide? Set in Ohio the late 1970s, the mystery is less important than the family story - James, a professor and first generation Chinese immigrant; Marilyn, a woman who gave up her dreams of becoming a doctor; and their three children who each have their own struggles. A beautifully written, intimate portrayal of a family.

The Dayton Metro Library launched the Big Read in 2005.

“Today The Big Read includes ten public library systems and three academic libraries spread across five counties, as well as a bookstore and a nonprofit literacy organization,” said Ben Murphy, Materials Selection Librarian at the Dayton Metro Library and co-chair of the Big Read. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get people across the Miami Valley reading and talking about the same great book.”

About the three finalists, Murphy adds, “This year’s finalists are quite diverse and have wide appeal. We have a classic dystopian novel that is the basis for one of the year’s most talked-about new TV shows, a novel about a family coping with the sudden death of their teenage daughter, and a heartwarming nonfiction book about a nationally recognized service dog organization based here in the Miami Valley. Whichever title wins, I know a lot of lively discussions and events are in store.”

Big Read Partners are:

Books & Co.

Bradford Public Library

Dayton Metro Library

Franklin-Springboro Public Library

Greene County Public Library

New Carlisle Public Library

Project READ

Sinclair Community College

Tipp City Public Library

Troy-Miami County Public Library

University of Dayton

Washington-Centerville Public Library

Wright Memorial Public Library

Wright State University


Visit to cast your vote and get more information on the next Big Read, past Big Read books and scheduled activities.