Rise of the Rocket Girls Is the 2018 One City, One Story Selection

Posted on October 17, 2017 in

PASADENA, CA – The book selection for Pasadena Public Library’s 2018 One City, One Story community reading celebration is the New York Times bestselling book Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by author Nathalia Holt.

Now in its 16th year, One City, One Story is designed to broaden and deepen an appreciation of reading and literature by recommending a compelling book that sparks a community conversation on important issues.

Rise of the Rocket Girls is the riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn’t turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.

For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women–known as “human computers”–who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we’ve been, and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.

Nathalia Holt, Ph.D. is a science writer and author of Cured: The People who Defeated HIV (Penguin Random House 2014), also a New York Times bestseller. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Popular Science and Time. She has trained at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and Tulane University. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in Boston, Mass.

One City, One Story community programs will be held throughout March, beginning with a conversation with the author on Thursday evening, March 8, 2018. Event details will be announced in the near future.

For more information, visit  www.cityofpasadena.libguides.com/onecityonestory  or call (626) 744-7076.


NEWS MEDIA CONTACTS: Catherine Haskett Hany, Communications, Pasadena Public Library
(626) 744-4207, chany@cityofpasadena.net  OR Christine Reeder, Adult Services, Pasadena Public Library  (626) 744-7076, creeder@cityofpasadena.net


Why One City, One Story?

The idea of getting a community together to discuss a single book actually arose in Seattle and quickly spread across the US, coming to Pasadena in 2002. Since beginning, the Pasadena Public Library has hosted 15 titles and with each presentation the list of collaborating organizations, firms, volunteers, and businesses grows.

The purpose of the series of discussions is just that:  to discuss.  We hope to begin a healthy, enlightening, interesting conversation among the people of Pasadena.  The idea is not to agree, but to share thoughts and opinions.  In sharing, we all learn.

Early in the summer, about 12 community readers begin coming together to suggest titles for the next spring’s selection.  Criteria for selection include:

  • The author should be living and able to come to Pasadena for a presentation
  • If possible, the book or author should have some tie to Pasadena, the San Gabriel Valley, or southern California
  • The work should appeal to many members of society: women, men, teens, readers, non-readers, and so forth. The broader the appeal, the richer the discussion.
  • The book should inspire a conversation; it should start people thinking and encourage the sharing of ideas.
  • The book should have enough substance that it lends itself to a variety of programming possibilities.

The goal is to have the selection made public in the fall, giving ample time for Pasadena residents to give the title as a holiday gift.

In March or April, the programs begin, with all sorts of cooperative sessions being offered. There are often book discussions throughout the community, in churches, stores, and libraries.  Colleges and schools sponsor related events like panel discussions, art shows, concerts, or lectures.  Everyone gets involved.  In support, the Pasadena Public Library buys 300 copies of the book; usually the schools get another hundred or so, and Pasadena City College has many copies available for their students as well.

The Pasadena Public Library is very pleased to continue to present this strong community effort.  We believe it creates a colorful and varied conversation, whether folks are talking about the book at the grocery store, at a soccer practice, before a church service, or over the back fence.  And that’s what it’s all about:  One City, One Story, many ideas.


2018 One City, One Story Selection Committee

Brian Biery – Consultant

Sharon Calkin – Pasadena Public Library Commissioner

Rosemary Choate – President, Friends of the Caltech Libraries

Sally Kousser – Retired Reference Librarian, Community Volunteer

Michelle Perera – Director, Libraries & Information Services, City of Pasadena

Christine Reeder
– Adult Services Librarian, Pasadena Public Library

Maggie Reyes-Rothner – English Chair, Blair High School

Mary Schuler – Community Volunteer

Leslie Tirapelle – Dean, Shatford Library, Pasadena City College

Jolly Urner
– Founding Committee Member, Pasadena One City, One Story

Larry Wilson – Public Editor, Pasadena Star-News

Aquita Winslow-Tyler
– Library Director, Polytechnic School

Previous One City, One Story Selections

The Sympathizer
by author Viet Thanh Nguyen

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline

The Book of Unknown Americans
by Cristina Henríquez

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan

Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker

People of the Book
by Geraldine Brooks

by Hillary Jordan


Gardens of Water by Alan Drew


The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea


Easter Island by Jennifer Vanderbes


The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell


Kindred by Octavia Butler


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


Peace Like a River by Leif Enger


The Soloist by Mark Salzman