Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Wednesday put out a press release all but guaranteed to set the hearts of literary urbanists aflutter citywide.
It was a reading list, designed to spark ideas for Imagine Boston 2030, the citywide planning project Walsh launched last year. “Members of the mayor’s team” – if not necessarily Walsh himself – came up with 12 titles, plus an eight-book list for children. And they’re taking online votes for a few more.
Recommendations include J. Anthony Lukas’ busing-era classic Common Ground and Southie memoir All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald, a study of the South End’s Villa Victoria, by University of Chicago scholar Mario Luis Small, and The Given Day, because what’s a Boston book list without Dennis Lehane?
There’s some global fare, too, like The Price of Inequality, by Joseph Stiglitz, and urban sociology in the form of Evicted, by Harvard’s Matthew Desmond, which is so well-regarded in City Hall that Desmond has been brought in to talk with staff at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Department of Neighborhood Development.
All these books will be stocked up at Boston Public Library branches, and Walsh, in a statement, urged Bostonians to drop by and pick up a few, to inform their thinking about what this city might look like in 15 years, and beyond.
“This reading list is another tool we’re using to drive engagement and ask people to think about Boston’s first city-wide planning undertaking in 50 years,” he said.
Still, Make Way for Ducklings aside, there’s some heavy reading here. Indeed, it might take until 2030 to get through the whole list, especially The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s epic biography of Robert Moses, the behind-the-scenes master who built much of modern New York City. It clocks in at 1,166 pages in paperback, with 80 more of notes.
By the time you’re done, you might be ready to work at the BRA yourself.