Why “City Scale” Matters

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Reading Benjamin Barber’s suggestive If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities (Yale UP, 2013) reminds me of the lofty aspirations Mayor Richard M. Daley had for the One Book One Chicago program in its early years.

In a prefatory note in the guide for the third season, fall 2002, on Willa Cather’s My Antonia, he wrote: “One Book, One Chicago encourages all our citizens to read the same book at the same time to create a citywide book club. … One Book, One Chicago cultivates a culture of reading and discussion by bringing our diverse city together around one great… Read more

Capturing the “Virtual Text” of Book Groups

Academic studies of book groups have noted the “virtual text” created over time in the process of a book’s discussion. In the useful account of Elizabeth Long (2003), the virtual text of a reading group is that evolving and largely ambient set of aesthetic claims, wishes for and production of additional tools (maps, historical footnotes, illustrations, fanfic spinoffs, lists, etc.), and social bonds of elective affinity that make reading — despite its solitary default — a social phenomenon, particularly outside of academia.

By drawing on actual circulation… Read more