The first time I picked it up I had to put it back down because I felt so strongly about everything he said in the first paragraph. A year or two late...moreThe first time I picked it up I had to put it back down because I felt so strongly about everything he said in the first paragraph. A year or two later I picked it up again with a cooler head, and really admired the ideas he'd put together. Highly recommended for everyone everywhere. (less)
My first Chesterton. The most easily-read and -understood, I think. "German pessimist mice" and the "Loves of the Triangles." Oh, GK, You're something...moreMy first Chesterton. The most easily-read and -understood, I think. "German pessimist mice" and the "Loves of the Triangles." Oh, GK, You're something else!(less)
If I could give six stars, I would. I learned so much from this book and was reminded of so much more. I wasn't crazy about it at first, but I read th...moreIf I could give six stars, I would. I learned so much from this book and was reminded of so much more. I wasn't crazy about it at first, but I read the whole thing in one day and cannot view my life and the world quite the same as I once did. Highly, highly recommended!(less)
One of my very favorite books. The story cannot get less exciting with each year - it continues to be creepy and hilarious and euphoric all at once. I...moreOne of my very favorite books. The story cannot get less exciting with each year - it continues to be creepy and hilarious and euphoric all at once. I cry every time the two men come around collecting charity; every time Scrooge sees the despairing ghosts unable to help those they shunned in life; every time Fezziwig throws his party; every time Tiny Tim dies; and every time Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, every one!" I know no words to better describe joy than when Scrooge awakens Christmas morning gripping a bedpost that was once the hand of Death. Everyone needs to read this. We'd be a better world for it. (less)
Enough people have told me this is a life-changing book for me to sit down with it on a cold cloudy afternoon. It's a lovely book. Critiques: Yes, gro...moreEnough people have told me this is a life-changing book for me to sit down with it on a cold cloudy afternoon. It's a lovely book. Critiques: Yes, grown-ups are strange, but it's partly because they have to slave away in the grown-up world to provide room for you to imaginate/invent/see the Real World. Also, where's the simple, uncomplicated joy in the little prince? He is grave, and seems to have an awful lot on his mind, and despite the author's obvious impatience with "seriousness", one can't help but feel that he's merely pushing another kind of seriousness on his readers (in fact, when the narrator is working on his plane and the prince gets pissed because no attention is being paid to him and his problems, this is exactly what happens). I think I only have critiques because everyone told me it was such an awesome little book. It WAS: it was lighthearted and poignant and uplifting, reminding me of the proper orientation of priorities. But I've read better. Still, I would recommend this to my nephews and nieces. (less)
I've been preparing for reading Kirk for a long time - suddenly I'm shy. I'm ready to come to terms with my own conservatism, a conservatism that has...moreI've been preparing for reading Kirk for a long time - suddenly I'm shy. I'm ready to come to terms with my own conservatism, a conservatism that has nothing to to with the GOP. Hoping to find some resonance here. I'll let you know how it goes! (less)
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 id...moreI 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. (less)
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, contempl...moreWith 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! (less)
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....moreThe 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!(less)
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 in...moreGreen 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! (less)
I grew up with a copy of this in my house. Twenty years passed. I found another copy in a tiny used bookstore in the middle of nowhere, and brought it...moreI grew up with a copy of this in my house. Twenty years passed. I found another copy in a tiny used bookstore in the middle of nowhere, and brought it home with me. I remember every story, every illustration. And seriously, who doesn't need a reminder now and then that "love is the best paste" (p 47) and "giving is more fun than getting" (p 229)? Not many copies are floating around anymore, I'm sure. But if you come across one, don't let it go. (less)
Once again, the book-was-better crowd have it right. I've read few better-written books in my life. Harper Lee is humorous, empathetic, strong, and li...moreOnce again, the book-was-better crowd have it right. I've read few better-written books in my life. Harper Lee is humorous, empathetic, strong, and lively. I really couldn't put it down. (less)
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 me...moreThe 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!!(less)
Much like Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, except more hopeful. Suburban Nation is very readable, while remaining technical enough that the reader...moreMuch 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! (less)