The Mayor's Book Club

The Mayor's Book Club stems from the question: what would happen if we all read the same book? Each year the mayor and the Austin Public Library select a book to encourage Austinites to participate in this shared reading experience.

A series of public programs are offered that explore the book’s themes and ideas and include a program with the author for a reading and discussion. All programs are free and open to the public.

Got a library card? Check out the books selected for Mayor's Book Club from years past.

The Mayor's Book Club is presented by the Library Foundation in partnership with the City of Austin Mayor's Office and the Austin Public Library.

2023 Mayor's Book Club sponsor

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“Mr. Texas” by Pulitzer Prize-winning Austin author Lawrence Wright selected for 2023 Mayor’s Book Club

“Mr. Texas” the new novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning Austin author Lawrence Wright has been selected for the 2023 Mayor’s Book Club.

“What fun to be selected for the Mayor’s Book Club! Especially as Austin plays a central role in ‘Mr. Texas’," said Wright.

A sharply drawn send-up of Texas politics, “Mr. Texas” is about a dark-horse candidate who risks his personal happiness for a career in the Texas House of Representatives.

“As you read this novel, I hope you’ll consider how Austin connects voices across all of Texas, from all walks of life, which Wright captures with deadpan wit,” said Mayor Watson. “And through the laughter, Wright asks us to imagine a Texas that isn’t hampered by partisan politics.

A Q-and-A with Lawrence Wright

Our main character, Sonny Lamb, seems to be the “everyman” of Texas. What do you want readers to know about Sonny before they begin this book?

Sonny is a bridge between Old Texas and New. He’s a rancher in West Texas, and like his neighbors, has been struggling to stay afloat. He’s come up with a technological fix for the drought — desalination — but it will take political power to solve the problem.

Anyone who has paid attention to Texas politics in the past decade will see some familiar scandals, debacles, and upsets. Is there something about Texas politics you want readers to take away from after reading this?

Actually, Texas has been amazingly free of corruption until lately. With all the hijinks under the dome, there was nothing like the dirty dealing you’d find in Illinois or New Jersey. That’s changed with the Midland billionaires who are steering the politics of the state now. You only have to look at the $3 million handed over to Dan Patrick before the Paxton trial. The corruption isn’t under the table, it’s in our face.

Sonny Lamb’s mission is keeping West Texas from drying up, a concern that residents have been bringing up for decades. What about that real-life issue inspired you to make it the main character’s mission?

Lyle Larson was a longtime Representative from San Antonio and this was his passion. He actually succeeded in passing laws similar to Sonny’s proposed bill. Lyle was a huge help in helping me understand the issue.

This novel has echoes of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where a regular citizen ends up being a powerhouse legislator. What do you want readers to know about how they can influence Texas politics?

There are two routes out of the box we’re in now. One is to vote in the primaries. There’s no law against it, and if more people did so, we might get more centrist candidates. The other is to recruit appealing candidates who can break the spell.

Mr. Texas is interested in the distance, literal and political, between the Capitol and rural parts of Texas. What do you want readers to understand about Austin’s relationship to West Texas and other parts of the state?

It’s a good thing Austin is in the center of the state. Imagine how lopsided politics in Texas would be if the capital city was Beaumont or Del Rio or even Lubbock. Now most legislators are nearly equally discomfited by having to trek to Austin.

2023 — Mr. Texas

By Lawrence Wright

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