How much does the Chicago Public Library love Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration? It loves it so much that it not only chose it as the latest One Book, One Chicago selection, it decided that the One Book, One Chicago festivities would go on for a full year instead of the customary one month.
“It gives us a chance to stretch things out,” explains library spokeswoman Ruth Lednicer. “It’s a fascinating book. At first you’re daunted by the size”—the book is a whopping 640 pages, larger than any previous One Book, One Chicago selection—”but it becomes engrossing very quickly.”
Though the book is about the experience of African-Americans who moved from the rural south to the urban north between World War I and 1970, Lednicer believes it will resonate with all Chicagoans.
“It’s a great starting point for a conversation,” she says. “The Great Migration shaped Chicago. But we can also talk about what makes people pick up and leave what they know and go into the unknown. It’s everybody’s story, the hope of leaving for something new and better. It’s created the tapestry of this city.”