The City of Boston has put together a rigorous, Boston-centric reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030, the city’s first full-scale plan since the 1960s. If urban planner heaven is a bookshelf, it might live here.
As Imagine Boston 2030 creates a plan to preserve and grow the city, the readings (12 for adults adults and 8 for children three-plus) ground Boston’s cultures and social history in a distinctly American urban framework of prosperity and poverty; integration and isolation; weak policy and smart growth.
The reading list grew from conversations between staff at the Mayor Marty Walsh’s office on books and thinkers that shaped their understanding of Boston. After some lively debate, they developed a list of books to share with the public. The books—which range from Cities 101 classics like Jane Jacobs‘s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, to Boston-based fiction (Rishi Reddi’s Karma and Other Stories) and nonfiction (J. Anthony Lukas’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground), and praiseworthy new titles like Matthew Desmond’s Evicted—will be available at all Boston Public Library branches.
But that’s not the end of the story. The city is asking its citizens to vote on three more books that should be added to the list. The suggested titles explore similar themes to illuminate the urban experience, but are more international than the core 12. Up for consideration: Alan Grostephan’s Bogotá, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and Dinaw Mengestu‘s The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, among others.
Adult reading list:
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development by Mel King
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas
All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald
The Power Broker by Robert Caro
Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi
The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong by Judith Rodin
Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Youth reading list:
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge
What’s the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston by Stephen Krensky
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald
Beneath the Streets of Boston by Joe McKendry
On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) by Sage Stossel