The One Book, One New York book for 2019 has just been announced: it is Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Goodreads describes it thus “In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work — from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.” Epochal days? I seem to remember constantly threatening bankruptcy, but as Ms Smith said on WNYC when the announcement of her book’s selection was made, the great thing about the city then was that it was so “economically welcoming”.

Do literacy programs like Big Reads really work? asks Terena Bell at The Outline. (Link via Literary Hub.) Nancy Pearl got the ball rolling in 1998 with Seattle Reads and that seems to have been successful: by 2005 Seattle was adjudged the nation’s most literate city. The overall answer to Ms Bell’s question seems to be that these mass reading programs probably do work, but we can’t really tell. Maybe we should all just ask our local bookstores if nomination has a noticeable effect on sales: I had a little difficulty locating a copy yesterday, partly because it’s on reserve for class reading at Columbia University. This morning Amazon says they’ve only got three copies of the paperback left in stock, though it doesn’t show in their top twenty bestseller list.

In the meantime: get out there and buy a copy from your local independent bookstore. Your reading schedule kicks off on 10 May with an event at Symphony Space as part of the PEN America World Voices Festival.