Batavia Public Library

One Book, One Batavia 2021

One Book, One Batavia is an annual community-wide reading program presented by the Batavia Public Library
in cooperation with Batavia High School and co-sponsored by the Friends of the Batavia Public Library.

Previous Selections

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About the book:

This year’s One Book, One Batavia selection is The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone.

Read the engaging true story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a genius codebreaker who began her career right in our backyard. In her first codebreaking job, she worked for Colonel Fabyan at Riverbank (in the current-day Fabyan Forest Preserve)—and then went on to break codes during WWII, including cracking the Enigma code multiple times. In this compelling biography, Jason Fagone shines a light on a woman whose work has been overlooked by history—in part due to the top-secret nature of her codebreaking, but also due to decisions made by J. Edgar Hoover and others to try to diminish the work of a woman codebreaker. A fascinating look at the life of a remarkable woman who—for a time—lived very near Batavia.

Find Out More About Elizebeth Friedman

Elizebeth Smith Friedman Collection

George C. Marshall Foundation

Discover this incredible collection, which includes her memoirs, interviews, and photographs. Listen to Elizebeth’s story in her own words. See what Riverbank (now Fabyan Forest Preserve) looked like in the early 1900s.
Elizebeth Smith Friedman Collection

PBS documentary: The Codebreaker

Watch this recent PBS American Experience documentary about Elizebeth Smith Friedman–currently available for free online viewing.

Virtual Tour of the Fabyan Windmill

Have you wondered what is inside of the Fabyan windmill? Take a behind-the-scenes virtual tour of the windmill with Aimee and Misty from Adult Services, who visited the windmill during Community Check-In last July.
Watch on: YouTube
Watch on: Facebook
Watch on: Instagram

Riverbank Gardens – historical

from Chicago Gardens: The Early History by Cathy Jean Maloney

“Where else would you find a bear’s cage, alligator pool, Japanese garden, windmill, greenhouses full of flowers, grottoes, acres of gardens, deer paddock, Indian statue, working quarry, cannons, and Greco-Roman swimming pool? At Riverbank, the riverside estate of George and Nelle Fabyan, all this and more once existed.”

About the Author

Jason Fagone is an investigative reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Previously, he was a contributing editor for the Huffington Post Highline, where he covered technology, sports, and culture. He’s also written for The New York Times Magazine, WiredGQ, Washingtonian, and He is the author of the books Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream and Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America. The Woman Who Smashed Codes is his third book.

Online Programs

Virtual Tour of Fabyan Villa

Wednesday, February 17
Did you miss out on the livestream? Watch the recording!
Let Vivien Lasken, Director of the Fabyan Villa, take you on a virtual tour of the Fabyan Villa where Elizebeth Friedman did her first codebreaking and met her husband, William.

Author Spotlight: Jason Fagone

Wednesday, March 3
7 pm

Online – via Zoom
Register at
Join us online for an hour with Jason Fagone, author of The Woman Who Smashed Codes, this year’s One Book, One Batavia selection

Peaches and Baseball

Tuesday, March 16
7 pm

Online – via Zoom
Register at
Celebrate women “stepping up to the plate” during World War II!  Rebecca Tulloch, a vintage Rockford Peach, shares the story of the real-life Rockford Peaches and the film that they inspired, A League of Their Own.

The History of Women in Computer Science 

Wednesday, March 24
7 pm
Online – via Zoom
Register at
Christine Szorc, an adjunct instructor at Elgin Community College, has been in the IT industry for over 25 years.  Who better to talk about the history of women in computer science?

Book Discussion
Tuesday, February 9,
7 pm
Adult Services manager Stacey Peterson facilitates this book discussion of the book The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone. Participants are asked to read the book before the discussion.