In a packed auditorium at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, Sarah Jessica Parker unveiled her first pick as honorary chair of the ALA’s new Book Club Central initiative: Stephanie Powell Watts’ debut novel No One Is Coming to Save Us (Ecco).

In announcing the selection, Parker called the book “deeply compelling and richly satisfying," and described it as a “brilliant examination of the American dream among African-Americans in a struggling community in the contemporary South.” In a review, PW said Watts’ “relevant and memorable” debut “powerfully depicts the struggles many Americans face trying to overcome life’s inevitable disappointments."

Created in partnership with Booklist and United for Libraries, ALA Book Club Central is an online platform of reading resources, including recommendations, book lists, and other content for book clubs and their readers. Parker, who recently launched a new fiction line (SJP for Hogarth, in partnership with Molly Stern at Crown) will offer additional picks throughout the year, “books that have moved me personally, and that I believe are richly deserving.”

In her opening remarks, Parker spoke of her love of books, libraries, and the benefits of book clubs.

“Words, ideas, and books require conversation to survive and thrive and to transform our world and our lives,” she said. “So it is my great hope that Book Club Central will serve as a conversation starter in communities across the country, as an amplifier of powerful, original, and creative voices, as a source of inspiration for readers in their own lives, and as a conduit for the civil exchange of ideas and differing points of view, something that feels more essential today than ever.”

Parker said it was "a dream come true" to work with librarians to promote reading.

“I was particularly excited when ALA first approached me because I have wanted for a very long time to take a more active and public role in supporting writers, reading, and libraries in a way that allowed me to share my personal and sentimental history with libraries and reading,” she said. “Public libraries are a vital part of our society and a functioning democracy. They are a resource for all people all ages and all backgrounds to find what they need to help improve their quality of life. However, it is the role of librarians as champions of reading and fostering a love of books whose value is beyond measure. If the library is the heart of a community, the librarian keeps the heart beating."