The City Builder's Book Club is about to begin reading Jane Jacobs's seminal 1961 book, the Death and Life of Great American Cities.
This is one of the few books that Absolutely Everyone Who Thinks About Cities Has Read, so if you haven't read it, (a) don't tell anyone, not even your partner or priest or dog, and (b) take this opportunity to read the book as commentary and discussion appears on the Book Club Blog, chapter by chapter. I'll be providing the opening commentary on Chapter 18, the main chapter on transportation.
Yes, I know, you lazy students can also just read the blog and forget reading the book (much as journalists prefer to interview me rather than read my book!) but believe me, you'll be the poorer for it. Jacobs is one of the most readable writers ever on city planning, and even those who disagree her tend to acknowledge her brilliance as an observer of city life.
Just added to my blog reader. Would love to keep up with the commentary as I read this incredible book awhile ago. I havent gotten around to reading the rest of Jacob’s books either.
Just don’t forget about all her other books. There is so much more in the later books. That was just her first attempt. My favorite is “Systems of Survival,” but they’re all good.
Nice timing for me. I was just finishing up Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and I have a fairly new copy of D&L that I bought for reference. I was thinking of re-reading it anyway this spring.
Your post made me smile.. Just two nights ago, I ordered your book through Amazon along with a Jane Jacobs book (it was not Death and Life of Great American Cities however) 🙂 Both books are scheduled to arrive in my mailbox tomorrow!
If I didn’t have such a backlog of fiction and non-fiction in my to-read queue I’d reread in lockstep with the blog. I’m lucky to live in Toronto where she is a local legend and her influence on the layout of urban fabric is all around us (for those who know a bit of history!)
My personal favourite of the Jacobs’ canon is the Nature of Economies, where her ideas about how economies actually grow seem prescient given the 2008 implosion. Another favourite thinker, Nassim Taleb (who predicted said 2008 implosion) appears to have uncovered many of the same premises independently.
Indeed it is a wonderful book! Whether or not you agree, its incredibly thoughtful, and is timely so many years post publication.
I also recommend “Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life” – she even makes housing statistics interesting!
Although I agree that the ideas in the book are wonderful, I’m actually not a fan of her writing style. I find it very hard to concentrate and stay engaged when reading her work.