This man is one of the most comfortable writers I have ever read. And here he is, writing about one of the most comfortable things (THE most comfortabThis man is one of the most comfortable writers I have ever read. And here he is, writing about one of the most comfortable things (THE most comfortable?) that one can experience. Made for reading on a cozy couch near a window overlooking a yellow-leaved tree in the sunlight. ...more
Sex, Lies, and Handwriting is like when you uncharacteristically grab a copy of Us Weekly and revel in the gossip and intrigue. ... But in a good way.Sex, Lies, and Handwriting is like when you uncharacteristically grab a copy of Us Weekly and revel in the gossip and intrigue. ... But in a good way. It was not as comprehensive as I would have liked, dwelling more on negative aspects that can show up in one's handwriting, and focussing on that of serial killers and politicians more so than leaders or heroes. But that was what made it juicy and fun to read. It was sensationalistic, over-the-top. Easy to read, quick to get through, and, as much as you might not think so, it was educational! I have found that my boyfriend, as displayed in his handwriting, is: idealistic, knows how to keep his mouth shut, likes a little distance from people, and is not that neat. My mother, judging from her handwriting, is: sociable, focused on the present, and isn't much given to negativity. Of course, these are things you'd have guessed about those close to you anyway. There aren't that many surprises. But still, it's fascinating to think how much comes through in the way you hold a pen to paper. ...more
Satisfying and enriching! Many won't have the patience to absorb what she has to say, or even to read the book, but those who do will appreciate it deSatisfying and enriching! Many won't have the patience to absorb what she has to say, or even to read the book, but those who do will appreciate it deeply. ...more
This book was amazing. And for all the numbers and diagrams (seriously, I never liked math) it read remarkably fast. Good for anyone who wants to learThis book was amazing. And for all the numbers and diagrams (seriously, I never liked math) it read remarkably fast. Good for anyone who wants to learn about the universe and its measurements along with a bit of math. Sort of mind-blowing. ...more
I'm rocking the suburbs, just like Quiet Riot did ... No really, it's a great book so far. Langdon is the most positive writer I've encountered so farI'm rocking the suburbs, just like Quiet Riot did ... No really, it's a great book so far. Langdon is the most positive writer I've encountered so far in my literary quest through the realm of urban criticism and (neo)traditionalist planning. He's even optimistic about the current ugly suburbs we deal with today. Forty years ago Leavittowns were becoming the scourge, but as time moves on, individual eccentricities come out of residents/citizens, trees grow, buildings are modified, and even the dully consistent neighborhoods such as those of Leavittown can become places of pleasantness and character. There is a ways to go yet, but I'm enjoying the ride. ...more
Much like Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, except more hopeful. Suburban Nation is very readable, while remaining technical enough that the readerMuch like Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, except more hopeful. Suburban Nation is very readable, while remaining technical enough that the reader is conscious of learning something. It suggests workable (proven to be so) solutions that the authors and their colleagues have personally implemented. However, the reader never gets the sense that the authors are tooting their own horn. They take you through all sorts of things - facts, methods, skills, ordinances, quirks, zoning stupidities - that you'd never known but perhaps FELT. Like: - curb radius: a long, swooping curb with a radius of 20 feet will make more work for the pedestrian, and greater ease for the driver, while crossing an intersection. A tighter, sharper curb makes for an easier intersection-crossing as well as safer drivers who have to slow way down in order to turn. - the two leading causes of teenage deaths are owed in part to the ever-increasing construction of suburbs. Car crashes (the first cause) are encouraged by wide streets and the long-awaited freedom attained once driving age is reached. Before this age, parents are required to chauffeur their kids EVERYWHERE. ... And suicide (the second cause) is encouraged through the boredom, and again, the lack of independence a car culture creates by requiring a chauffeur to get oneself anywhere worth going. There's nothing to do if you can't drive. - complicated intersections (as sometimes found in older parts of towns) typically have far fewer crashes than you'd think. As opposed to a gigantic, nine-lanes-across, perpendicular intersection, which generates the competitive, gun-your-engine mentality among drivers ... a complicated seven-way intersection, possibly joining two-way streets with one-ways, or channeling several streets onto a single one, forces drivers to watch the hell out, and be more careful than they'd otherwise be. This and so much more are contained in these pages. It's a truly edifying book, and leaves you with a sense of hope.
A beautiful town! A lovely and memorable neighborhood! The time is now! ...more
The Geography of Nowhere is an amazing book. I haven't devoured a book with this much gusto since I read "Crunchy Cons" by Rod Dreher, who pointed meThe Geography of Nowhere is an amazing book. I haven't devoured a book with this much gusto since I read "Crunchy Cons" by Rod Dreher, who pointed me toward TGoN in the first place. Kunstler is cranky, make no mistake, but he is truthful and exact. I didn't find his rage, well-articulated as it is, to be off-putting in the least. I've described reading this book to friends as "like listening to a lecture from your favorite uncle". It's very conversational and well-written. He is a journalist, after all. He touches on so many aspects of building in the United States today that I find it incredibly difficult to sum up. I learned a hell of a lot reading TGoN, so I'll just excerpt a few paragraphs from an email I composed the other day to a like-minded friend regarding neighborhoods you'd want to live in:
Kunstler talks about a sense of being sheltered (something all human beings crave, no matter how evolved we get) when he points out what makes a suburban street different from a city-neighborhood street. Cars parked along the curb give that sense of shelter, because, on the sidewalk, we're slightly removed from traffic with a buffer between us. Buildings from 2-5 stories high will do give that shelter. High, arching trees that stand just as tall as these houses, or taller, give shelter all along the street. Buildings set close to the sidewalk do the same thing, as well as houses with porches - there's not the sudden, cut-off distinction between house and street like there is in a suburban n'hood. In suburbia, everything is set back at least 25 feet, there are seldom porches, never ones that are used, and the garage, a big, ugly, blank wall, is the closest thing to the street. The trees are short and far between, sidewalks are never used because there's no place to go to on foot, and the long, curving, wide streets never reward you with a focal point the way a T-junction would, the way towns used to put a nice post office at the end of the block there, or a park, or a fountain. (Incidentally, most n'hoods since the 50s are laid out with traffic flow being the biggest concern. Wide, curving streets 50 feet across are much better for throughput than two-lane, parking-at-the-curb, turn-right-only-at-the-T-junction streets. It's sort of baffling as well because which street would you choose to let your children play beside? One where a driver naturally exercises caution given the parked cars? Or one where there's nothing to slow a car down when it's going 35 around the bend?) The pain of it all, and not even addressing actual houses and building them, is that to build a neighborhood like the one I live in and you are moving into, would now be illegal according to United States law. There are minimum lot sizes and restrictions on structure area, and depending on where you want to build, restrictions on height, setbacks from the street, whether you can rent out your converted attic or not ... And this is just city planning!! There's so much more in this book ...
End excerpt. All in all, it is a great book for those who give a crap about beautiful places, and those who believe beauty is not just for the rich. Read on!!...more
Either I already knew everything Ms Gottlieb tried to tell me, or I'm pretty effing dense. This book is for any woman who hasn't found Mr Right and beEither I already knew everything Ms Gottlieb tried to tell me, or I'm pretty effing dense. This book is for any woman who hasn't found Mr Right and believes that the longer she waits to commit, the more likely it is that she'll find someone perfect. Actually, in some cases this might be true, so it really is for everyone who's still looking. It's a great help if you're trying to figure out if you're being too picky. Who hasn't been there? It sucks both to hear it and to say it, but more and more women ARE being too picky. Ms Gottlieb has a lot of personal urging to give us regarding this attitude. She's 41, never married, and purposely conceived a son a few years ago and now has a mini Love of Her Life. But she has found that the reason she's still alone (and looking) is that her standards, her checklist of qualities her man should have, are unreasonable. Have always been unreasonable. And that if she keeps on seeking out and dating the kind of man she, and all of us, are attracted to (tall, dark, handsome, moneyed, witty) she'll never give a chance to any of the many many men who are not necessarily any of these things but do have the qualities all of us women look for in a husband and potential father. If I can add my two cents - I think we're all living in such a push-button world that we truly believe that we can have absolutely everything we want. Everything! Even, and especially, in relationships. And - this is the crucial point - if we don't have it right then, it becomes the easiest thing in the world to say, "No, I don't want you, and I have the right to be selfish." Not that any of us would ever call it being selfish. We'd call it "being true to ourselves," and call our friends up to meet for a martini (or a pint). Really truly working at something, or putting effort in for unspectacular results, or getting part of what you want without the whole thing ... People used to do this without a problem. They didn't expect perfect and immediate happiness. Feminists (some of them) have produced the same thing they railed against decades ago: if a more traditional woman wants a swept-off-her-feet, fairy-tale marriage, how is this different from a career-oriented woman who wants her career, plus a perfect man, plus perfect kids, and all of it at the perfect time in her life? Which of them is more unreasonable? Lori Gottlieb has much, much more to say in her book, and I highly recommend it. It's not just a Personal Public Service Announcement, as she says in her final chapter. She hopes it might be a wake-up call to those for whom it's not too late to broaden their fantasies to include some reality. ...more
Most reviews either say this book is REALLY FUNNY or that it's not funny at all. The truth is, if read as an informative piece of nonfiction (which itMost reviews either say this book is REALLY FUNNY or that it's not funny at all. The truth is, if read as an informative piece of nonfiction (which it truly is), the asides and references to early-00s culture and the Emphatic Capitalization Throughout make it quite an enjoyable read. I love old-fashioned advice, even if I don't take it, and books like these heighten my sense of at least Having An Idea of what Proper Etiquette is. See? I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Do enjoy! ...more
Green Metropolis is written by a guy who admittedly does not live that greenly. He has a big house with a big garage and lots of storage space out inGreen Metropolis is written by a guy who admittedly does not live that greenly. He has a big house with a big garage and lots of storage space out in the country, and drives to the post office which is barely a mile away. His basic premise, based on the fact that oil is not going to last us that much longer, is that living more densely, and therefore driving less, is the way to save the environment. Especially: anything that makes driving less pleasurable is eco-friendly, and anything that makes driving easier is not. If cars are made room for, if highways are widened, if parking lots are enlarged and cars themselves get handier and more efficient, use of them will be encouraged, and public transit, walking, or biking become less appealing. In the planning process of new communities and buildings, open space is usually encouraged so as to make things visually appealing. (Don't even get him started on city zoning.) But when it comes to living and working in these new places, the more space there is between buildings, the harder it is to get anywhere on foot. Many new offices (even of companies that tout their eco-friendliness) have wide acreages of land outside the city center, build sprawling low buildings on them surrounded by even bigger parking lots, require wider roads to service the employees, and then slap solar panels on top that contribute .5% to the building's energy needs. So, it turns out taller buildings are more eco-friendly because it's easier to move things vertically via elevators (which don't use much energy because they are counterweighted) than to move them horizontally via foot-power or gas-power. Also, smaller living spaces that share more walls are obviously more eco-friendly because they don't use as much energy to heat or light. And when it comes down to it, even buying local isn't that eco-friendly. Think of the small loads of a few pumpkins that had to be driven in from the farm, per pound, and then think of the huge shipments of onions and lettuce and peaches that all came on the same train from California. Which is more wasteful? Don't you hate to read this? Anyway, it's a really good book, made me think, and made me a little mad, but I do recommend it. I has reinforced my will to live smaller and try to be less wasteful. It might help you, too.
Also, Green Metropolis AND Crunchy Cons (by Rod Dreher) both mentioned a book by Jane Jacobs from the early 60s, called The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and apparently she was ahead of her time when it comes to city planning & city living. It should be arriving next week from abebooks.com, and I can't wait! ...more
The follow-up, Please Understand Me II, is the big seller, but this one is almost the same thing. I first read it in high school and still think in teThe follow-up, Please Understand Me II, is the big seller, but this one is almost the same thing. I first read it in high school and still think in terms of extra/introvert, sensing/intuiting, thinking/feeling, scheduling/perceiving. My particular temperament (INFJ) is one of those who is naturally interested in this stuff, so there's only so much I can say. But it is PROFOUNDLY SATISFYING (especially after a rough time) to look up your own profile and that of others around you and figure out why you are the way you are. It's not that the world is stacked against you, it's just that there are areas where you shine and areas where you need to work to make yourself shine. You'll be exclaiming, "It's SO TRUE!!" over and over again. I recommend it to everyone on the planet - even if you only look at your own combination of drives and tendencies, you'll have a much more comprehensive understanding of the smaller society in which you live. ...more
The cover design doesn't make you want to read it, but if you are Christian and interested in why you are the way you are, definitely give it a read.The cover design doesn't make you want to read it, but if you are Christian and interested in why you are the way you are, definitely give it a read. To someone who is intensely interested in the Myers-Briggs type indicator and the enneagram, as I am, this book is quite valuable. It's not about fitting people into slots or simply categorizing ourselves and others. For one thing, nobody fits entirely into any one category; we're all unique blends of factors and tendencies. For another, this kind of understanding between individuals can't help but harmonize our relationships and bring us together. A choleric parent can come off as a boot camp instructor when all they really want is for great and dynamic things to happen to their kids. A phlegmatic friend can be seen as lazy or unassertive when all they really want is for everyone to chill out, have fun, and get along. Being open and honest about one's own foibles and drives, in combination with reading Art & Laraine Bennett's book, can lead to great satisfaction and a clearer understanding of human interaction. This book has the added benefit of being directed toward those with a religious-Christian point of view, bringing in vocation and prayer to an otherwise potentially dry and scientific subject. A great resource!...more
With each word of this book, I want to jump up and yell, "Huzzah!" I found myself frequently laying the book down and staring out the window, contemplWith each word of this book, I want to jump up and yell, "Huzzah!" I found myself frequently laying the book down and staring out the window, contemplating how wonderful it is to work with one's hands, and more importantly, to learn from another human being, to learn things that cannot be manualized or codified. I am reminded of CS Lewis' essay "Good Work and Good Works" in which he says that the only jobs that are worth doing are the things that people would do for themselves if they didn't have a professional to do it for them. Most of today's office jobs are essentially just like the factory jobs of yesteryear: what matters is not your skill set or particular talents, but how well you fit as a cog in the machine of the company. Work should be engaging, productive, satisfying, and lifelong. This is the type of book that's capable of changing enough minds to really make this happen. Read it! ...more
Such an amazing writer, she just goes on and on, describing the details of life in the hinterlands of the Washington islands in the twenties, her rancSuch an amazing writer, she just goes on and on, describing the details of life in the hinterlands of the Washington islands in the twenties, her ranch, her ridiculous husband, her neighbors, the backbreaking work and the beauty of the land. The personification of the mountains, the animals, the weather, and Stove are especially engaging. This book makes me happy I have plumbing. ...more
I love Hale's approach to design, and to everyday living. He and I (and you too, I hope!) rebel against what I call "specialist-ism." I dislike the idI love Hale's approach to design, and to everyday living. He and I (and you too, I hope!) rebel against what I call "specialist-ism." I dislike the idea that specialists - trained professionals - the educated elite - should be the ones to solve our human problems and show us The Way. I think we all carry enough humanness in us to solve our own problems in the best way for ourselves. Not only this, I think we know intuitively when something is right and when it's wrong. We know what we like, we know what's comfortable, we know when we're unwelcome and we know what makes us happy. This is (dare I say it) what qualifies us to say what architecture is good and what is bad. Most of us may not appreciate daring or brilliant or cutting-edge approaches to design, especially when it comes to buildings we live and work in. This is not a fault in us: this is a fault in modern designers. Those who would make design understandable to few, are those who have no business designing for the many. Hale's point is that magic/good design is all around us; we ourselves can tap into it and immerse ourselves in well-formed aesthetic environments. We all have it in us to enjoy life. As for the book itself, it was great. For the beginning two-thirds, I wish I could say I "got it". I tried, but didn't see what he was getting at until later in the book, and even then I "got it" only in a general, life-philosophy sort of way. This guy is an NF for sure - very touchy-feely, very subjective, and very much my style. I think if I'd been able to tour some of these houses with him, I'd have gotten more from his premise. Also, I think the book would have benefited from more illustrations and floor plans, and more technical explanations. I know what I mean when I say, "This is a beautiful building." But I can't explain why I say it or what exactly I mean when I do. I was hoping Hale would have been able to help me with that. All the same, it was jolly good, and I recommend it to anyone who is suffering from exurb sprawl, despairing at McMansions, and hoping to find that one nice apartment that isn't a white cube. ...more