“Books are the plane and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey...” - Anna Quindlen
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good book, especially if you’re waiting for your bus or have a half hour to kill on the train ride home. Being able to catch up on a great read is one of the best parts of taking public transportation instead of driving (although I will blame The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for making me nearly miss my BART stop once!).
In honor of Banned Books Week, we’re celebrating the freedom to read (and the freedom of being able to read while riding great public transportation) by asking TransForm staff to share their favorite page-turners.
Maybe you’ll find a new book to read on the commute to work (as long as you’re not in the driver’s seat). Add your own recommendations into the comments section below, and happy reading!
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk
Mia Birk managed Portland, Oregon's Bicycle Program in the 90's, and was a major player behind transforming the city into a cycling Mecca. Her story of perseverance in the face of major opposition (and her funny stories of leading hopeless town hall meetings) is both inspiring and entertaining! (Recommended by Jenn Lavelle)
Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
In this book, musician David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) weaves together tales from his adventures riding bicycles in some of the major cities around the world, from Buenos Aires to Berlin. It made me want to hop on a bike and visit all those cities myself! (Recommended by Bianca Taylor)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
This is my favorite planning book. I read it in college, when I was an architecture and sociology major. I felt that Jane verbalized many of my observations growing up in New York, looking at the shape of cities and how this formed behavior. She validated my intuitive analysis of the city, and for this she was a great mentor. (Recommended by Alissa Kronovet)
A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
A community development book I recently read, A Paradise Built in Hell is about the emergence of human altruism in times of disaster. It connects in overarching ways to TransForm’s work by touching on themes of community agency, social justice classism, and the effects privatization. It inspires me to strive for the best in the neighborhoods I serve: how do we as a society (and as TransFormers) integrate the self-organizing, mutual aid instincts that shine in the catastrophes illustrated in the book into our daily, non-catastrophic lives? (Recommended by Carrie Harvilla)
Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden
Can you imagine opening the newspaper and seeing an ad that claims a lawnmower will help you win over the ladies? This book explains how marketing and the pursuit of profit drove the sprawl of American cities, starting as early as the 1820s. Hayden chronicles seven eras of suburban development, and calls for both preservation and infill as strategies to make our communities more sustainable and fair. (For a quick follow-up, check out her visually-oriented Field Guide to Sprawl.) (Recommended by Shannon Tracey)
Anything by Stefan Zweig
I have read four of his books (The World of Yesterday, Post Office Girl, Chess Story, and Beware of Pity), and am eager to read the one he wrote about Brazil! (Recommended by Joel Ramos)