A Novel Idea 2023
Twenty years of building community, one book at a time.
When the A Novel Idea community read program first started 20 years ago it was with a simple question in mind: What would happen if everyone in Deschutes County read the same book? The goal was to engage with the community throughout thought-provoking and relevant programming and wrap it all up with a free and accessible visit from the author. That first year, a small committee of five readers looked for a book with regional roots and selected David James Duncan’s The River Why. The weeklong A Novel Idea event coincided with National Library Week and ended with a capstone presentation by Duncan; 400 people took part in seven programs.
Fast forward to 2019, the last year pre-pandemic, and A Novel Idea had evolved into a month-long event, with 23 programs drawing in more than 7,500 participants. When we had to make a quick pivot to online-only programming in 2020, more than 9,000 people took part in virtual programs and presentations.
The tremendous growth of A Novel Idea is a testament to you, the readers and thinkers of Deschutes County. Your interest and your enthusiasm have enriched A Novel Idea year after year, and for those of you able to provide financial support, your donations have helped ensure that every A Novel Idea program could be offered free of charge, including every author presentation.
As we came to the end of our second decade of A Novel Idea, we knew a celebration was in order. Over the years we have been around the world together—we’ve even been to the moon!— and have visited times that stretch into the past as well as into the future. Picking just one book to mark this tremendous milestone was a daunting task. We began to consider the possibility of bringing back authors from past years, and to our delight, David James Duncan, María Amparo Escandón, Peter Heller, and Anne Griffin all said yes. We are excited and honored to bring all four authors to Central Oregon on April 29 for the main event, and to offer you more than two dozen engaging programs in the month before their visit.
Thank you for making A Novel Idea the largest community read program of its kind in Oregon. We are excited to see where the future takes us. Happy reading!