TO empower local authors and inculcate a reading culture among eThekwini residents, the 2017 edition of the Municipality’s One City One Book Programme was officially launched on September 20, at uShaka Marine World. The community reading programme initiated in 2013, sees the City select one book each year to be read by eThekwini residents. This year’s book, Pavement Bookworm was written by recovering drug addict and an avid reader Philani Dladla. The book was chosen because it unpacks several sensitive issues that affect young people. It also details Dladla’s life journey, who was once homeless and lived under the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. Head of Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit, Thembinkosi Ngcobo said the book is available in all 93 Municipal libraries. “Over and above the 93 Municipal libraries, we are building three more libraries including the Central Library. Each year we spend over R10 million purchasing books but the unfortunate part is that we also lose books to a value of R3 million every year as a result of theft and vandalism. While we encourage the culture of reading, we also want people to value books and protect them. If our people can read and write, it means that our history and our stories will never get lost as they will be written from our own perspective,” said Ngcobo. Referring to the high cost of books, Dladla appealed to publishing companies to make books affordable, so that poor people in particular, can afford to purchase them. The Municipality has purchased 186 copies of Dladla’s books. The One City One Book programme is now in its 5th year and it has featured the following books.2013 - Long Walk to Freedom” written by Nelson Mandela.2014 - Native of Nowhere: The Story on Nat Nakasa by Ryan Brown.2015 - The Last Rhinos: The Powerful Story of One Man’s Battle to Save a Species written by Graham Spence and Lawrence Anthony2016 - When the Chalk is Down written by BP Singh.