OBSD History

All previous One Book South Dakota titles are included in the SDHC's Lending Library and Book Club to Go program. Apply for a program for your reading group. 

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    2003 - Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

    Leif Enger’s best-selling debut is at once a heroic request, a tragedy, and a love story, in which “what could be unbelievable becomes extraordinary” (Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald). Enger brings us eleven-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy in the Midwest who has a reason to believe in miracles. Along with his sister and father, Reuben finds himself on a cross-country search for his outlaw older brother who has been controversially charged with murder.

    Their journey unfolds like a revelation, and its conclusion shows how family, love, and faith can stand up to the most terrifying of enemies, the most tragic of fates.

    Grove Press | 2001 | 312 Pages | Paperback

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    2004 - The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg

    It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets—secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg’s moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

    Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

    Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the “lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human” (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.

    Random House | 2004 256 Pages | Paperback

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    2005 - The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers

    When fourteen-year-old Carson Fielding buys his first horse—a run-down, wild-eyed roan—from the wealthiest rancher in his South Dakota border town, he learns a hard lesson about dealing with powerful men. Years later, Carson grudgingly agrees to work for the rancher, training his horses and teaching the rancher's wife, Rebecca, to ride.

    Carson and Rebecca fall in love, angering her vengeful husband, who sets off a cruel chain of events that shocks even the most hardened residents of the town. With the help from friends at the nearby Lakota Indian reservation, Carson challenges the ranchers’ rule, fiercely determined to protect what he holds most dear.

    Harcourt, Inc. | 2005 | 407 Pages | Paperback

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    2006 - Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

    Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage in America’s heart. In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and “manages to convey the miracle of existence itself.”

    Picador | 2004 | 247 Pages | Paperback

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    2007 - The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

    In the unforgettable fall of 1909, Rose Llewellyn and her brother, Morris Morgan, bring west with them “several kinds of education”—none of them of the textbook variety—and life is never again the same in Marias Coulee, Montana.

    Harcourt | 2007 | 345 Pages | Paperback

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    2008 - The Masters Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

    Having survived World War I, Fidelis Wadvogel returns to his quiet German village and marries the pregnant widow of his best friend, killed in action. With a suitcase full of sausages and a master butcher’s precious knife set, Fidelis sets out for America. In Argus, North Dakota, he builds a business, a home for his family—which includes Eva and four sons—and a singing club consisting of the best voices in town.

    When the old world meets the New—in the person of Delphine Watzka—the great adventure of Fidelis’s life begins. Delphine meets Eva and is enchanted. She meets Fidelis and the ground trembles. These momentous encounters will determine the course of Delphine’s life and the trajectory of this brilliant novel.

    Harper Perennial | 2005 | 388 Pages | Paperback

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    2009 - Buffalo for the Broken Heart by Dan O'Brien

    For twenty years Dan O’Brien struggled to make ends meet on his cattle ranch in South Dakota. But when a neighbor invited him to lend a hand at the annual buffalo roundup, O’Brien was inspired to convert his own ranch, the Broken Heart, to buffalo.

    Starting with 13 calves, “short-necked, golden balls of wool,” O’Brien embarked on a journey that returned buffalo to his land for the first time in more than a century and a half. Buffalo for the Broken Heart is at once a tender account of the buffaloes’ first seasons on the ranch and an engaging lesson in wildlife ecology.

    Whether he’s describing the grazing pattern of the buffalo, the thrill of watching a falcon home in on its prey, or the comical spectacle of a buffalo bull wallowing in the mud, O’Brien combines a novelist’s eye for detail with a naturalist’s understanding to create an enriching, entertaining narrative.

    Random House | 2001 | 262 Pages | Paperback

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    2010 - What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers

    What Is the What is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children—the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges.

    Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.

    Random House | 2006 | 535 pages | Paperback

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    2011 - The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph Marshall III

    The history of our state abounds with stories of struggles and perseverance, stories of impassioned individuals facing treacherous winters and impossible odds. Perhaps no person better epitomizes the struggles faced by so many in the early years of our territory than Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse.

    This iconic hero is best known for his prowess on the battlefield, yet a closer look at his life reveals a complex figure made up of much more than the war stories and heroic legends. It captures the life and times of one of our state’s most revered men, providing insight into the historical contexts that formed his character, beliefs, and later shaped him into a leader.

    Penguin | 2004 | 294 pages | Paperback

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    2012 - Dammed Indians Revisited by Michael Lawson

    Lawson's classic work, Dammed Indians: The Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux, 1944-1980 (University of Oklahoma Press, 1982, 1994), provided the factual basis for Congressional legislation establishing tribal recovery trust funds totaling $385.8 million for five Sioux tribes in compensation for reservation infrastructure lost to Federal dam projects.

    What began as a purely academic exercise for Lawson in the 1970s, to meet the requirements of writing a thesis and dissertation, eventually found a real world application between 1996 and 2002 that has significantly benefited the Sioux people. Lawson has recently updated his original work with six new chapters, including two that describe the process by which the tribes were able to gain recovery trust funds from Congress. Entitled "Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux," this revised edition was released by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press.

    South Dakota State Historical Society Press | 2004 | 397 pages | Paperback

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    2013 - The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin

    Lake Superior, the north country, the great fresh-water expanse. Frigid. Lethal. Wildly beautiful. The Long-Shining Waters gives us three stories whose characters are separated by centuries and circumstance, yet connected across time by the place they inhabit.

    After writing a book of short stories Garden Primitives, author Danielle Sosin found herself obsessed with an idea that was too large to succeed as a short story. She wanted to write about Lake Superior, to discover what it was about that enormous body of water that so moved and haunted her. The result, eight years later, was The Long-Shining Waters.

    The book, published in 2011 by Milkweed Editions, was the winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award and The Midwest Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award. As the 2013 One Book South Dakota author, Sosin embarked upon an unprecedented tour across South Dakota, presenting discussions about her book.

    The tour concluded with her appearance at the 2013 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood. Sosin has received many awards and fellowships from organizations including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Loft Literary Center. She lives and works in Duluth, Minnesota.

    Milkweed Editions| 2011 | 274 pages | Paperback

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    2014 - Dakota by Kathleen Norris

    Kathleen Norris’s first nonfiction book Dakota, published in 1993, was praised by critics, writers, and readers alike. The New York Times Book Review named it a Notable Book of the year, and Library Journal honored it among its Best Books of 1993. Norris also received the New Visions Award from the Quality Paperback Book Club and the Society of Midland Authors Award for 1993.

    Kathleen Norris, with her husband, fellow poet David Dwyer, moved from New York City to her late grandmother’s home in Lemmon, South Dakota (population 1,614). Norris lovingly describes the vast and starkly beautiful landscape. She also discusses her experiences with extremes of weather and topography and townspeople and farmers. She touts the rewards of monastic life, which leads her to a deeper understanding of herself.

    This self-knowledge heightens her appreciation of the concept of community, both social and spiritual, and of how we might apply monastic values to daily living in order to attain a stronger sense of community and of self.

    Houghton Mifflin | 1993 | 217 pages | Hardcover/Paperback

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    2015 - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    In 2013, “Ordinary Grace” received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. The New York Times bestseller also received the Barry Award, Anthony Award and Macavity Award for Best Novel.

    In the novel, published by Simon and Schuster and set in southern Minnesota, Krueger explores the issue of spirituality and his own childhood, writing about issues that he’s grappled with since a young age. The book is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

    Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota.

    He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is an attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.
    Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe.

    His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last five novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

    Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. Windigo Island, number fourteen in his Cork O’Connor series, was released in August 2014.

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    2016 - Some Luck by Jane Smiley

    The 2016 One Book South Dakota was "Some Luck" by Jane Smiley. The first volume of an epic trilogy from a beloved writer at the height of her powers, "Some Luck" is a literary adventure through cycles of birth and death, passion and betrayal that will span a century in America. The novel is a National Book Award nominee, as well as Best Book of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Seattle Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and BookPage.

    On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family's land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who's not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father's heart.

    Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, "Some Luck" gives us an intimate look at this family's triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century.

    Jane Smiley won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992. She appeared at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings, Sept. 23 at the Performing Arts Center.

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    2017 - Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

    Born into a food-obsessed family, Eva Thorvald finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic habaneros, each ingredient represents one step in Eva's journey as she becomes the chef behind a legendary pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent feast that's a testament to her spirit and resilience.

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    2018 - Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism by Thomas E. Patterson

    As the journalist Walter Lippmann noted nearly a century ago, democracy falters "if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news." Today's journalists are not providing it. In "Informing the News," Patterson proposes "knowledge-based journalism" as a corrective. Unless journalists are more deeply informed about the subjects they cover, they will continue to misinterpret them and to be vulnerable to manipulation by their sources. Patterson calls for nothing less than a major overhaul of journalism practice and education. This book speaks not only to journalists, but to all who are concerned about the integrity of the information on which America's democracy depends.

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    2019 - Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn

    Perhaps Kent Nerburn's most well-known book, "Neither Wolf Nor Dog" won the Minnesota Book Award and was made into a feature film in 2016. 

    "I am humbled to have my unique literary child, 'Neither Wolf nor Dog,' chosen as the one book South Dakota selection for 2019," Nerburn said. "A Native elder once counseled me: 'You should always teach by story, because stories lodge deep in the heart.'"

    Born and raised near Minneapolis, Nerburn earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota in American Studies. He went on to study humanities and religious studies at Stanford University before earning a doctorate in religious studies and art at the University of California at Berkeley. Originally a sculptor, Nerburn became a writer to reach broader audiences with his work. After spending 25 years in northern Minnesota, Nerburn and his wife now live near Portland, Ore.

    A two-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, Nerburn is the author of 14 books on spiritual values and Native American themes, including "Letters to My Son," "Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce" and, most recently, "Dancing with the Gods."

    "For several years I worked on the Red Lake Ojibwe reservation helping students collect the memories of the tribal elders," Nerburn said. "This changed my life and introduced me to the native spiritual traditions that have become so central to the message in my writings."

    The book is told from a multicultural perspective.  

    "In 'Neither Wolf nor Dog' I tell the story of three men – two Native and one non-Native — as we journey through a world too often hidden and too little understood, and struggle to see the world through each others' eyes," he said. "I hope readers who share this journey will learn something of our complex and difficult intertwined histories and reflect on what it means to go forward as common children of this common land."

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    2020 - Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-Roper

    The granddaughter of infamous religious zealot and Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps, Megan Phelps-Roper grew up protesting funerals with the extremist group before leaving the Westboro Baptist Church — and by extension, most of her family — behind in 2012 and eventually moving to Clark, where she lives with her husband Chad and daughter Sølvi.

    "Unfollow" chronicles her life in Kansas from childhood through adulthood, her departure from the church during her mid-20s, and the unlikely series of events that led her to South Dakota.

    Phelps-Roper said after the unveiling that she's eager to share her story with fellow residents of the state she now calls home.

    "It was actually six years ago yesterday that I made South Dakota my home and I'm so, so excited to share with the beautiful people of this state how the power of civil dialogue changed my life for the better," she said to the audience members who attended the Dec. 3 unveiling. "So, thank you again so much for this opportunity and I cannot wait to get started."