First published in the Oct. 1 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
In early September, members of the public voted to choose this year’s One City One Story Citywide reading program title.
Voters were asked to choose between five environmentally themed books that were selected by staff because they reflected this year’s OCOS theme, “Navigating Nature.”
Nominees included “Entangled Life” by Merlin Sheldrake, “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler and “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward.
Based on popular vote, the winning title for the 2021 Citywide reading program is Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” (1993). This award-winning novel takes place in a time when global climate change and economic crises have led to social chaos. California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortages to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Its protagonist, 15-year-old Lauren, lives inside a gated community, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyper empathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions. The novel explores themes of climate change and social inequality.
Residents may borrow the book, e-book, e-audiobook or graphic novel adaptation from the South Pasadena Public Library and participate in a One City One Story librarian-led book discussion or one of the planned special events that complement the “Navigating Nature” theme. The OCOS programs are intended for adults and teens. Registration is required for all events.
For more information about the schedule and links to register, visit southpasadenaca.gov/ocos.