Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir Chosen as 2024 One Book One Nebraska

October 16, 2023

Tessa Terry

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir Chosen as 2024 One Book One Nebraska

People across Nebraska are encouraged to read the work of a Nebraskan — and then talk about it with their friends and neighbors. Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020) by Debora Harding is the 2024 One Book One Nebraska selection.

This memoir of native Nebraskan, Debora Harding, is all about a traumatic childhood event, the aftereffects of which would change her family forever. Harding expertly weaves the past with the present in a riveting story of survival and family dynamics. Harding’s debut book has been compared to bestsellers like “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls and “Educated” by Tara Westover.

“With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability.” – BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs

Debora Harding was born and raised in the midwest. At the age of nineteen she dropped out of university to work for Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, before relocating to Washington DC to run an environmental non-profit. Fed up with politics, she cycled across America where she met her English husband, author Thomas Harding. She then joined him in the UK and worked at an award-winning video production company that focused on the counter-culture protest movement in Europe. Later, she co-founded the UK’s first local television station in Oxford. Wanting the children to enjoy the great outdoors, the family moved back to the USA, and Debora trained as a restorative justice mediator and ran an independent bicycle business. She is now a full-time writer and activist, and splits her time between the UK and the US.

Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events that will encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. Support materials to assist with local reading/discussion activities will be available after January 1, 2024 at http://onebook.nebraska.gov. Updates and activity listings will be posted on the One Book One Nebraska Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/onebookonenebraska.

2024 will mark the twentieth year of the One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. The Nebraska Center for the Book invites recommendations for One Book One Nebraska book selection year-round at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/obon-nomination.asp.

One Book One Nebraska is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. The Nebraska Center for the Book brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at and supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”


The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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