Reading Chicago Reading

Who reads? What do they read? How do they read? These are questions essential to the study of literacy, yet fine-grained answers to these questions are difficult to come by, as noted in To Read or Not To Read, a 2007 report from the NEA. Our project Reading Chicago Reading represents a rare opportunity to seek empirical answers to these questions within a large metropolitan area, with a wide variety of texts, and across a great diversity of readers. Read more

‘One Book’ turns 20! What have we learned?

This fall is the 20th anniversary of “One Book One Chicago.” CPL hosted a panel about its impact, and featuring Reading Chicago Reading project work. John Shanahan of the RCR team moderated a discussion of OBOC as data and as city-scale cultural infrastructure.

Panelists: Creators of OBOC Mary Dempsey (former Commissioner of CPL) and Amy Eshleman (Chicago’s First Lady and former CPL librarian); Kathleen Rooney (Dept. of English, DePaul University) novelist and author of Reading With Oprah: The Book Club That Changed America; and Jennifer Lizak (Coordinator of Special… Read more

Some Initial Findings from the Predictive Model

Among conclusions presented in our research article [DHQ 14.2 2020], we noted:

Our project has identified several challenges that will be of interest to scholars in the digital humanities, particularly those working at the intersection of text analysis, geography, and public data sets. Our original goal to capture and predict mass literary events has largely been met. As “capture,” we have created an archive of nearly a decade of multiple media forms (and metrics for them) associated with a cultural program that has engaged many thousands of people across a major American city for years. … Read more

The First Season, Part 1

A post by Emma: In late summer 2001, the Chicago Public Library and the Mayor’s office announced that Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird would be the inaugural choice of a new program called “One Book, One Chicago.”

We returned to the cultural and political climate when OBOC launched by diving into the archive of newspapers between August and October of 2001. There might have been many possible reactions to the choice of Harper Lee’s famous but controversial novel, but it was all together well-received. On August 9, 2001, Patrick Reardon and Marja Mills wrote an article for the Pittsburgh… Read more

What We Learned from Thousands of Goodreads Reviews

This post is by student researchers Emma and Chris:

If you’ve ever combed through Goodreads, you may have noticed the range of ratings and reviews on the site. While some books may receive thousands of comments, others only gather a hundred (or less). You might also wonder have much disparity there is in ratings for any single book.

We wanted to know what Goodreads reviewers said about some of the “One Book One Chicago” books we’re studying as part of the Reading Chicago Reading project. Comments on Goodreads can, of course, come from anywhere in the world. But did Chicago’s choice of these books Read more