Our most recent pick was What is the What by Dave Eggers, which showed up all over our city as the selection for One Book, One Philadelphia, one of the nation's largest municipal reading projects. Although billed as a novel, it's based on the life story of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng, who downloaded his experiences into Eggers' skillful hands. Deng's journey from his village to the United States involves murderous conflict, starvation, and barefoot treks across miles, but the book has a hopefulness we all found mesmerizing—no small matter in an opinionated group that's more than willing to disagree. Even read in fits and starts, while waiting for subways or for schools to let out, the story is instantaneously engrossing.


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