Everyone in Minneapolis is supposed to be reading the same book. It's called "One Minneapolis, One Read."
Logistically, this seems impossible, until you realize that everyone is supposed to have their own copy. OK, that's doable.
But why? To create a citywide conversation, of course. You can strike up a conversation with the person in the next seat on the bus:
So, where are you? Uh -- the 16A, heading to St. Paul. No no, where are you in the book? Well, last name's Larson, so I'd be between the K and M. Not the phone book. The book we're all reading. It's "The Grace of Silence" by Michele Norris, an account about integrating south Minneapolis. Uh -- I think I missed class that day. 'Scuse me, my stop ...
It's a great idea. But what about next year? Some suggestions:
• Something literary from the 19th century, where the heroine spends half the book wondering if Mr. Topcoate is going to come to tea, and spends the rest of the book in her room trembling because his cane brushed against her ankle. 800 pages.
• A mystery. Some pulpy detective novel from the '50s, like "Murder Me Deadly, My Sweet," or one of those Dan Brown books where a fellow uncovers an ancient conspiracy hidden for centuries in plain sight. (His next book, "The Leprechaun Covenant," has to do with the ancient occult symbols in the Lucky Charms marshmallows.) Disadvantage: Some joker will run around town shouting "the sultry heiress in the red dress is the killer," ruining it for everyone. The mayor would have to call a press conference and beg everyone to keep reading. Sure, it could be the heiress. Don't you think the lawyer character was acting rather suspicious? OK, no more questions.
• Harry Pettor. In a world where everyone is a magician, young Harry makes a startling discovery: He's normal, with no special powers at all, and has to go to a special school. The series follows Harry and his friends through college, until they must eventually face their greatest foe, the Nonexistent Employment Market. Then everyone can get together at the Lake Harriet bandshell for a mass showing of the movie versions, and break into small groups of three to four thousand to discuss how the movies were different. Then everyone goes home to find they were burgled by illiterates.
Next year's book: "Home Security for Dummies."