Thursday, 22 March 2012

Reading Material

When I moved house last year I cursed the fact that I am a compulsive book buyer.  I love reading and keep buying books even when I have a pile of "next to be read" that is half-a-dozen or more tall.  I even went so far as to buy myself a Kindle to try to stop the accumulation of more dead trees but it doesn't seem to have worked.  Next on my list to buy is Triumph of the City

Travelling from city to city, speaking to planners and politicians across the world, he uncovers questions large and small whose answers are both counterintuitive and deeply significant. Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Why can’t my nephew afford an apartment in New York? Is London the new financial capital of the world? Is my job headed to Bangalore? In Triumph of the City, Glaeser takes us around the world and into the mind of the modern city – from Mumbai to Paris to Rio to Detroit to Shanghai, and to any number of points in between – to reveal how cities think, why they behave in the manners that they do, and what wisdom they share with the people who inhabit them".  I love the way that he anthropomorphises the city - there's a great literary tradition right there. 

I have also been recommended to check out The Fires by Joe Flood which takes a look at the impact on deprived areas of New York in the 1970s (and also wins a prize for the longest sub-title to a book ever): "In 1968, New York City struck a deal with the RAND Corporation to use their computer models to establish more efficient public services and save millions of dollars, beginning their first civilian effort with the FDNY. Over the next decade a series of fires swept through New York, displacing more than 600,000 people, all thanks to the intentional withdrawal of fire protection from the city's poorest neighborhoods-based on RAND's computer modeling systems.  In The Fires, journalist Joe Flood provides an X-ray of the inner workings of modern cities, using the dramatic story of a pair of mayors, an ambitious Fire Commissioner, and an even more ambitious think tank to illuminate the patterns and formulas that are now inextricably woven into the very fabric of the modern urban experience."

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