Syracuse citywide book club introduces new changes this year

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A new reading list was announced for the City of Syracuse’s citywide book club, starting back up this month.

The meaning behind the club has become more relevant since its establishment in 2018.

“The first year we did it, people said, ‘wait a minute, the mayor is doing a book club? Doesn’t he have more important things to do?’ but for me, it was again, just a great way to engage the broader community and issues that we’re working on every day,” said Mayor Ben Walsh.

It’s not only serving its purpose, but the club is reaching even more people. This year, they’re adding children to the story.

“Some of us are parents, might be teachers or have young children, and we know how important reading in literacy is, but we also know our kids have opinions and their lives have been impacted by the pandemic and other things over the past year,” Walsh said.

In previous years, the book club discussions have always happened in person, but of course, this year because of the pandemic conversations will be virtual. 

But even through a screen, the connections are still there.

“It’s a really critical time for our community to begin coming together, and sometimes that may be in person but there’s a lot of different ways to come together,” he said.

The city is looking at going virtual as a positive. There’s a group of community reading partners to help facilitate discussions, online blogging, and live readings. 

Confirmed community reading partners this season

  • Brent Sears, 41 Prospects
  • Joss Willsbrough, Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York
  • Dr. Marcelle Haddix, Café Sankofa and Lender Center at Syracuse University
  • Toni Walsh, The Reading League
  • Leah Russell, Syracuse Peace Making Project
  • Felicia Castricone, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

The focus of each book this year is the quality of life. The book club runs through October and the book list includes: 

Adult/Civic Selections

  • “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue
  • “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life” by Jan Gehl and David Sim
  • “New Chocolate City: Hip-Hop Architecture in Washington, DC” by Sekou Cook

Children/Young Adult Selections

  • I’m New Here” by Anne Sibley O’Brien
  • “My Diary from Here to There” by Amada Irma Pérez
  • “American Street” by Ibi Zoboi’

To learn about how to read along or become a partner, contact Emma Spector at

More information will be made available on the City’s social media accounts and on the Syracuse Citywide Book Club page at

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