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 book. Reading great literature inspires us to think about ourselves, our environment and our relationships. Talking about great literature with friends, family and neighbors can add richness and depth to the experience of reading.”