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One Great Read




Live! Frozen Staged Reading
Tuesday, September 3, 7:30 p.m.
Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette, 313 N. 5th St, Lafayette

Kickoff: The Devil & One Size Fits All
Thursday, September 5, 6:30 p.m.
West Lafayette Public Library, 208 W Columbia St, West Lafayette

Paris Comes to the Prairie
Tuesday, September 10, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

The great Chicago fair was one of a long line of international expositions, many of them most notable hosted by the city of Paris. Neil Harris, author and professor emeritus of history at the University of Chicago, will place the Chicago event in the context of earlier expositions, explore its debts to Paris and Chicago's connections to Paris, and analyze the Columbian Exposition's innovations and impact. Using a large number of images he will document the fair's appearance, both as it was experienced by visitors and as it was popularized throughout the world.

One Great Read Book Group Leaders Help Sessions
Wednesday, September 11, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m., and Thursday, September 12, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Downtown Library

Do you want to discuss Devil in the White City with your book group, but not sure where to begin? In this program we will discuss how to talk about our One Great Read book. Participants will receive a packet of helpful materials.

Mobs, Murder, and Mayhem
Tuesday, September 17, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Beneath the shining facade of the 1893 World's Fair, there was a crime spree of staggering proportions. Find out from Purdue professor Susan Curtis how the social, cultural, and economic changes of the Gilded Age created a dark underside where mobs, murder, and mayhem.

Gallery Walk: One Great Read & TAF 
Friday, September 20, 6:00 p.m.
Wells Community Cultural Center

Book Discussion
Monday, September 23, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Join us to discuss The Devil in the White City.

Women in the White City
Tuesday, September 24, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Doctor TJ Boisseau, director of Purdue Women's Studies, will speak about the Women's activities at the 1893 World's Fair. The Women's Exposition was one of the most successful parts of the fair, allowing representative women from around the world to make their case for suffrage and demonstrate their role in society on the world stage.

Teen Carnival
Thursday, September 26, 6:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Play ring toss, cornhole, and classic carnival games. Learn to make balloon animals. Create photo booth props and take silly pictures. Munch popcorn! Talk about One Great Read.


EXPO: Magic of the White City
Tuesday, October 1, 7:00 p.m.
Klondike Branch Library

Enjoy a marvel of sights and sounds as 1893 comes to life.  Narrator Gene Wilder explores the plans, exhibits, and photos (2005, 116 min).

The History Behind The Haan Mansion
Wednesday, October 2, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

A pictorial presentation and discussion by Bob & Ellie Haan about how this home arrived in Lafayette after the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Group Read: The Beast Below
Saturday, October 5, 3:00 p.m.
Robots & Rogues Bookstore, 531 Main St, Lafayette.

Join us for a group reading of the graphic novel, "The Beast of Chicago". The images have been digitized and will be projected for attendees to take turns reading. This will take place at the Robots and Rogues Bookstore, 531 Main Street, Lafayette.

Criminal Investigation and Forensics: Giving the Devil His Due
Tuesday, October 8, 6:30 p.m.
Campus Library (Ivy Tech Community College, Ivy Hall Lilly Room 1114)

Ever wonder how detective and forensic work has changed since the days of H.H. Holmes? John Mishler, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, shares advances in techniques that help police catch criminals and what remains the same.

From the Wild West to White City: The World of Buffalo Bill
Thursday, October 10, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

From his Wyoming childhood, to a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute, to his vice presidency and work as the chief curator Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, James H. Nottage has studied American Indian history, art, and the culture of the American West.  He writes, edits, and contributed to "From Cody to the World: The First Seventy-five Years of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association," published by The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 417-418.

One Great Read Book Discussion
Wednesday, October 16, 2:00 or 6:30 p.m.
Campus Library

Discuss Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.

Brown Bag Book Discussion
Tuesday, October 22, 12:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Bring your lunch and discuss The Devil in the White City.

The Gunness Mystery
Wednesday, October 23, 7:00 p.m.
Downtown Library

Bruce Johnson presents his film The Gunness Mystery. In the late 1800s, Belle Gunness began reaching out to men across the Midwest through a series of want ads. Those who answered her ads were promised a bright future as a partner in her farm in La Porte, Indiana, but they were never seen again. If you enjoyed the true crime story in Devil in the White City, you will be fascinated by this killer tale.

2013 One Great Read Book Choice




Lafayette, IN – The year is 1893 and people from around the world are flocking to the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. Amid the brilliant white architecture, joyous crowds, and international celebrities, a serial killer lurks.

The 2013 One Great Read committee invites all county residents to join in exploring the making of the exposition and the murderous mind of H.H. Holmes, vividly captured in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson.

"It's jarring that a character like Dr. Henry H. Holmes, so evil, could co-exist with someone so modern and uplifting as the fair's director of works Daniel Hudson Burnham,” said West Lafayette Public Library Director Nick Schenkel. “A page turner from the first sentence to last, we are reminded that in the midst of beauty horror can thrive."

 “This was a book I hated to see end! As a fan of nonfiction that reads like, and is stranger than fiction, this book leaves little to be desired,” said Tippecanoe County Public Library Head Reference Librarian Alison Moss. “American history, Gilded Age popular culture, tons of facts about the 1893 Columbian Exposition, plenty of suspense and memorable characters -- what a wealth of program opportunities for One Great Read planners.”

The plot features a promising architect who created the fair and a serial killer who creates The World’s Fair Hotel, where he seduces young single women and murders them. Several victims were children. There could be as many as 200 victims.

Book Awards:

  •     2003 New York Times best seller (nonfiction)
  •     2003 International Horror Guild Award (nonfiction)
  •     2003 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
  •     2003 National Book Award (nonfiction), finalist
  •     2003 CWA Gold Dagger for Nonfiction, shortlist
  •     2003 Great Lakes Book Award (nonfiction), finalist
  •     2004 Washington State Book Award
  •     2004 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award
  •     2004 Edgar Award (Best Fact Crime), winner
  •     2004 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book, winner
  •     2009 ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound (History & Cultures)

2013 One Great Read activities begin September 1. A kickoff celebration at the West Lafayette Public Library occurs Thursday, September 5. Topics and presenters for upcoming programs include: author visits, live theatre and comedy performances, book group leaders’ workshops, documentaries, films and more. Exact dates and details will be announced on web pages and at www.facebook.com/OneGreatRead this summer. All partner-sponsored activities end October 31.

Books by Erik Larson:

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun

Film notes:  Although a movie based on this book is reported, online information varies.  Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights in 2010 and is expected to play H.H. Holmes. The screenplay is reported to be in development by Warner Bros. (www.cinemablend.com), and/or the producers are Paramount Pictures, Double Feature Films and Appian Way (www.wikipedia.com).

The One Great Read committee includes representatives from the Tippecanoe County Public Library system, West Lafayette Public Library, Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette, Tippecanoe Arts Federation, Wabash Area Lifetime Learning Association, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and Robots & Rogues, New and Used Books. Members are required to host or sponsor at least one activity per year.

Originally published in 2004, the 464-page novel is available in paperback, audiobook, and downloadable formats. Copies of The Devil in the White City are available in all local libraries and for sale in most new and used bookstores.


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