New York City Is Starting One Extremely Large Book Club

updated May 3, 2019
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New York is starting a city-wide book club, and you get to vote for one of these five to be the first book. Danielle Brooks’ pick is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Image credit: Danny Menendez for BuzzFeed)

The New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has teamed up with Buzzfeed to launch “One Book, One New York,” an initiative to get everyone in the Big Apple—that’s 8.4 million residents—to read the same book at the same time.

But first a decision must be made: Which title is worthy and appealing enough to New Yorkers?

There are five choices for the city-wide book club’s first pick. They include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, The Sellout by Paul Beatty and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

New Yorkers can vote for the title they think should be the first read and the city has enlisted the help of five celebrities to campaign on the behalf of their favorite books.

Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee in “Orange Is the New Black” and starred in the revival of “The Color Purple” on Broadway, is hoping Coates is the author NYC selects.

“My pick is near and dear to my heart,” she says in a video. “Between the World and Me is relevant now more than ever before!”

William H. Macy’s pick is the classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, published in 1943.

“My pick is the story of another family of low repute but with ambitions. Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells the story of Francie Nolan,” he explains. “They’re all great books but in my opinion, it would be a shame if you didn’t pick A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

While it may sound impossible, other major cities including Boston and Chicago, have successfully implemented similar programs.

In 2010, Boston launched “One City One Story” in collaboration with the Boston Book Festival. The all-city book club focuses on short stories that are available free of charge in hopes of “spreading the joy of reading for pleasure among teens and adults … and to create a community around a shared reading experience.”

The Windy City’s “One Book One Chicago” program has been in operation since 2001.