The community voted to read “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep for this year’s One Read program. Last November, the library received more than 230 suggestions for what to read in 2021, and this April 833 people voted for their preferred title. The other title considered this year was the novel “The Resisters” by Gish Jen.
“During the 20 years of One Read, this is the second time a true crime nonfiction book has been selected,” said One Read co-chair Lauren Williams. “Coincidentally, the first time we asked for the community to vote for the One Read book, the winner was “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. This year’s book is partly about her.”
Part true crime narrative, part biography, “Furious Hours” documents the remarkable story of the 1970s-era Alabama serial killer Willie Maxwell, and Harper Lee’s attempt to write a book about his crimes, the justice system and racial politics in the deep South. Cep first tells the story of Maxwell, the mysterious deaths of several family members, accusations of voodoo and his dramatic murder at the funeral of his final alleged victim. Cep next dives deeply into the trial of Maxwell’s killer (which Harper Lee attended), Alabama politics and the insanity defense. Finally, Cep creates a portrait of a frustrated Lee, trying — and failing — to get to the truth behind the murders onto the page. The result is an extensively researched and immersive work of nonfiction.
Author Casey Cep earned a degree in English from Harvard and a Master in Philosophical Theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She is currently a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her first book, “Furious Hours,” was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and was named a New York Times Notable Book.
“Readers can check out “Furious Hours” now so everyone will have a chance to read it before September. It’s available in several formats – paperback, large print, book on CD, ebook (OverDrive) and downloadable audiobook (OverDrive),” said Kirk Henley, One Read co-chair. Readers can pick up a copy at the library or place a hold on the title for pickup through curbside service in Ashland, Columbia or Fulton, at Library-to-To lockers in Hallsville and Holts Summit or on the bookmobile.
Planning for related programming is already underway. “Earlier in May, the One Read Task Force met to begin planning programs for September, the majority of which will be virtual as they were last year,” said Kat Stone Underwood, One Read co-chair. “We’ll have the annual One Read favorites, including the Author Talk on September 30.”
One Read, now in its twentieth year, is a community-wide reading program coordinated by Daniel Boone Regional Library and co-sponsored by a task force of local businesses, agencies, academic institutions and other groups that encourages adults of all ages to read and discuss a single book. More information about submitted titles and related One Read topics can be found at oneread.dbrl.org.