One Book. One City. One Good Read.

Welcome to DC Reads 2014!

DC Reads is a DC Public Library literacy program that promotes reading for pleasure by having citywide celebrations for teens and adults that focus on one book.  Each year a new book is selected by a public voting process, with thousands of votes cast at libraries and bookstores around the city.

This year's DC Reads selection will be The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

Beautiful Things coverAbout the Book

Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

Listen to the Podcast

We sat down with Dinaw Mengestu for a brief interview here at DCPL prior to his speaking engagement on October 15th.  Take a few minutes to listen to what he has to say about writing about DC, the sense of place in his book, and the immigrant experience.

Special Events

For the full listing of events please see our DC Reads calendar.

Dinaw MengestuOpening Night Reception

Wednesday, October 15th, 6:30 p.m. - Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Great Hall

Join us at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library for an opening night celebration to launch DC Reads 2014.  Special presentation by author Dinaw Mengestu and copies of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and All Our Names will be available for purchase and autograph courtesy of Politics and Prose.

Missed the kickoff?  Listen to Dinaw Mengestu's full presentation here at the DC Public Library Podcast.

Book Discussion Groups

Libraries and community groups around the city will be reading and discussion The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears
Find a book group near you!
Download the discussion guide developed by DC Public Library.

DC by the book iconGuided Tours of Logan Circle & Shaw

Thursday, October 23, 6 p.m. – Meet in Logan Circle
Saturday, November 1, 10 a.m. – Meet in Logan Circle

To date, the DC By the Book (DCBTB) project has 11 fiction excerpts entered for “The Beautiful Things That Heavens Bears” and 50+ for the Dupont/Logan Circle neighborhoods. We'll be curating a selection of our favorites, complemented by historical context and photographs. We'll showcase a brand-new tour in the DCBTB app as we go.  DCBTB is a collaboration between DC Public Library, local partners, and the public to crowd-source passages from fiction set in D.C. and place them on a custom map of the city.  Learn more at

Get a leg up and download the app in advance:

For iPhones, search DC By the Book tours in iTunes.

For Android, search DC By the Book tours in Google Play.

African Film Selections

Tuesday, October 21, 6 p.m. - Martin Luther King Jr.  Memorial Library, A-5
Tuesday, November 4, 6 p.m. - Martin Luther King Jr.  Memorial Library, A-5

DCPL has lined up two special documentary films about life of African immigrants in the United States and their connection to the complex issues facing their home countries.  The first feature focuses on refugees from war torn Sudan.  The second follows the story of a West African woman in Philadelphia seeking asylum for her daughter.

Ancestry Workshops

Wednesday, October 22, 6 p.m. - Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library
Wednesday, November 12, 6 p.m. - Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library

Attend a database demonstration that explores DC Public Library’s genealogical and historical online resources highlighting the Black Studies and Washingtonia Collections. Learn how to research house histories, census data, maps, telephone directories and more. With your DC Library card, tracing your family history has never been easier.

I lost my tooth in AfricaChildren's Read-Alike

As part of this year's DC Reads we will also be highlighting a special book about African immigrant families.  I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakité ; illustrated by Baba Wagué.  This book will be incorporated into story times throughout the months of October and November. Ask your local children's librarian for more information.

Special Thanks to Our Partners

Additional support for DC Reads provided by the DC Public Library Foundation, Federation of Friends of the DC Public Library, and The Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

DC Public Library Foundation logo Humanities Council DC By the Book Logo

If you would like to purchase a copy of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears please consider supporting one of our bookstore partners.

(Dupont Circle)
Bridge Street Books
Idle Time Books
(Adams Morgan)
(Dupont Circle)
Politics and Prose
Riverby Books
(Capitol Hill)
Second Story Books
(Dupont Circle)
Teaching for Change @
Busboys and Poets (U Street)