With the continuation of Light Rail Transit construction for the foreseeable future, here at Words Worth Books we’ve prepared a list of titles to see you to the end of it.
It is easy to focus on the frustrations of delays and detours that construction brings, but we’d like to take a moment to remember what this Big Dig will do for our Region. In particular, we recommend Charles Montgomery’s “Happy City” and Taras Grescoe’s “Straphanger” for insights about public transportation and how it has shaped city planning. Stuck in traffic? Whip out “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do” by Tom Vanderbilt. Taking a more philosophical approach to set-backs? Effortlessly produce a copy of “Geography of Genius” by Eric Weiner, which links the breakthroughs of human thought and city planning.
Whatever your approach to construction, we have a title for you! CHECK OUT THESE TITLES AT OUR WEBSTORE
HAPPY CITY by Charles Montgomery
More of us than ever are moving to inner cities, mixed-use suburbs, and densely constructed towns. Our surroundings have certainly changed--but is city living cheering us up, or are we as gloomy on our walks to the subway as we were on our long predawn commutes? And if that's the case, how can we turn things around? In breezy, vivid prose, Montgomery reports from such exciting and dysfunctional places as Bogotá, once a dangerous, car-obsessed city, now a bike-loving model of civic excellence; California's San Joaquin Valley in the apocalyptic aftermath of the housing crisis; and a suburb of Vancouver, where a power company gathers energy from sewage to provide its citizens with heat and hot water. Full of cutting-edge insights from behavioral economists and leading urban thinkers, Happy City offers a completely new way to examine city life, showing us how small innovations can radically improve our experiences. Practical, genial, and fiercely open-minded, Montgomery has written a brilliant book about what today's cities are getting right--and how tomorrow's cities can do even better.
IN PRAISE OF SLOW by Carl Honore
These days, almost everyone complains about the hectic pace of their lives. We live in a world where speed rules and everyone is under pressure to go faster. But when speed is king, anyone or anything that gets in our way, that slows us down, becomes an enemy. Thanks to speed, we are living in the age of rage. Carl Honore has discovered a movement that is quickly working its way into the mainstream. Groups of people are developing a recipe for living better in a fast-paced, modern environment by striving for a new balance between fast and slow. In an entertaining and hands-on investigation of this new movement, Honore takes us from a Tantric sex workshop in a trendy neighbourhood in London, England to Bra, Italy, the home of the Slow Food, Slow Cities and Slow Sex movements. He examines how we can continue to live productive lives by embracing the tenets of the slow movement. A challenging take on the cult of speed, as well as a corrective look at how we can approach our lives with new understanding, In Praise of Slow uncovers a movement whose time has come.
STRAP HANGER by Taras Grescoe
In Straphanger, Grescoe hits the commuter road in a global quest to understand and illuminate the challenges of the post-automobile age. Straphanger is not just another attack on automobiles and suburban sprawl but the most entertaining and most thorough examination of global car culture yet written, and an empowering tool kit for anybody looking for alternatives to a car-based lifestyle. Ultimately, its subject is the city, and it offers a global tour of alternatives to car-based living told through encounters with bicycle commuters, subway engineers, professional boulevardiers, idealistic mayors and disillusioned trolley campaigners. Along the way, Grescoe meets libertarian apologists for the automobile, urban planners who defend sprawl, champions of hydrogen and biofuels, and traffic engineers fighting to reduce congestion. In a world of skyrocketing gas prices and political unrest in the oil-rich corners of the world, Straphanger is an essential book that addresses one of the most critical discussions of the near future.
TRAFFIC by Tom Vanderbilt
Driving is a fact of life. We are all spending more and more time on the road, and traffic is an issue we face everyday. This book will make you think about it in a whole new light.
We have always had a passion for cars and driving. Now Traffic offers us an exceptionally rich understanding of that passion. Vanderbilt explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our attempts to engineer safety and even identifies the most common mistakes drivers make in parking lots. Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the quotidian activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological and technical factors that explain how traffic works.
THE WORKS by Kate Ascher
A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city
Have you ever wondered how the water in your faucet gets there? Where your garbage goes? What the pipes under city streets do? How bananas from Ecuador get to your local market? Why radiators in apartment buildings clang? Using New York City as its point of reference, The Works takes readers down manholes and behind the scenes to explain exactly how an urban infrastructure operates. Deftly weaving text and graphics, author Kate Ascher explores the systems that manage water, traffic, sewage and garbage, subways, electricity, mail, and much more. Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, The Works gives readers a unique glimpse at what lies behind and beneath urban life in the twenty-first century.
GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS by Eric Weiner
In The Geography of Genius, acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places, like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And, with his trademark insightful humor, he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, “What was in the air, and can we bottle it?” This link can be traced back through history: Darwin’s theory of evolution gelled while he was riding in a carriage. Freud did his best thinking at this favorite coffee house. Beethoven, like many geniuses, preferred long walks in the woods. Sharp and provocative, The Geography of Genius redefines the argument about how genius came to be. His reevaluation of the importance of culture in nurturing creativity is an informed romp through history that will surely jumpstart a national conversation.
TRIUMPH OF THE CITY by Edward Glaeser
A pioneering urban economist presents a myth-shattering look at the majesty and greatness of cities. America is an urban nation, yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly . . . or are they? In this revelatory book, Edward Glaeser, a leading urban economist, declares that cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in both cultural and economic terms) places to live. He travels through history and around the globe to reveal the hidden workings of cities and how they bring out the best in humankind. Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and cogent argument, Glaeser makes an urgent, eloquent case for the city's importance and splendor, offering inspiring proof that the city is humanity's greatest creation and our best hope for the future.
THE CITY IN MIND by James Howard Kunstler
Kunstler turns his discerning eye to urban life in America and beyond in dazzling excursions to classical Rome, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, Louis-Napoleon's Paris, the "gigantic hairball" that is contemporary Atlanta, the ludicrous spectacle of Las Vegas, and more. Seeking to discover what is constant and enduring in cities at their greatest, Kunstler explores how America got lost in suburban wilderness and locates pathways that might lead to civic revival. His authoritative tour is both a concise history of cities and a stunning critique of how they can aid or hinder social and civil progress. By turns dramatic and comic, The City in Mind is an exceptional glimpse into the urban condition.
GREEN METROPOLIS by David Owen
In this remarkable challenge to conventional thinking about the environment, David Owen argues that the greenest community in the United States is not Portland, Oregon, or Snowmass, Colorado, but New York, New York. Owen contends that the environmental problem we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world's nonrenewable resources, is not how to make teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The problem is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan, whose residents presently come closer than any other Americans to meeting environmental goals that all of us, eventually, will have to come to terms with.
WALKABLE CITY by Jeff Speck
Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at. Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities. Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.